Message from Dean Sharon L. Wood: Turbulent and Difficult Times

June 1, 2020

Dear Cockrell School Community,

As I reflect on the senseless death of George Floyd and the protests that have gripped our nation, I am filled with sadness, anger, and outrage. Racism and violence have absolutely no place in our society, and now more than ever, we must use our voices and stand together to implement change. Within the Cockrell School community, we must strengthen our commitment to building an inclusive environment that recognizes and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences, and I am proud to join UT’s Coalition of Diversity and Inclusion Officers in an effort to build an equitable and just university in which hate and intolerance are unacceptable.

Thank you,


Sharon L. Wood
Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering

Statement from the UT Austin Coalition of Diversity and Inclusion Officers

As diversity officers at the University of Texas at Austin, we are grieved, horrified, saddened by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, as well as countless others who have lost their lives to acts of racial violence. These egregious acts of racial profiling, physical violence, and death of Black individuals are taking place against a backdrop of a global pandemic that places in bold relief the wrenching inequities that have divided our nation as the virus disproportionately ravages communities of color. 

We recognize that we are experiencing more than just a moment of discomfort and discontent. Our nation's dark history has led to this critical moment in time. This is a history that we must grapple with, as we collectively struggle to move forward together. 

As diversity officers we want our community and particularly its Black members, many of whom grew up in the same city as George Floyd and may have known him or his people, to know that we are here for you. We understand that these recent senseless events are triggering, tragic, and a stark reminder that Black lives are fragile and can be stolen from us at any moment.

We urge everyone to remember that if one of us is hurting, then we all hurt. Our silence in the face of injustice sends a negative message to the most vulnerable members of our university community. Now, more than ever, we reaffirm and reinvigorate our commitment to supporting an equitable, inclusive, and just institution in which violence, hate, and intolerance are not accepted and are actively combatted. 

We encourage all members of our university community to check in on and support each other, recognizing that these recent events differently impact our students and colleagues in very deep and personal ways.  

We also encourage our community members to reach out directly to their college or school’s diversity officer for any support, guidance, and resources that they may need.

In Support and Solidarity,
The Coalition of Diversity and Inclusion Officers
The University of Texas at Austin

Ya’Ke Smith
Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Moody College of Communication

Esther J. Calzada
Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Edmund T. Gordon
Vice Provost for Diversity
University of Texas at Austin

Shavonne Henderson
Director of Student Equity and Inclusion
School of Law

Christine Julien
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Cockrell School of Engineering
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Samuel Moore
Director of Outreach and Diversity
Jackson School of Geosciences

Shelley Payne
Advisor to the Dean for Diversity & Inclusion
College of Natural Sciences

Monique Pikus
Director of Diversity and Organizational Climate
College of Liberal Arts

Rene Salazar
Assistant Dean for Diversity
Dell Medical School

Raji Srinivasan
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
McCombs School of Business

Richard J. Reddick
Associate Dean for Equity, Community Engagement, and Outreach
College of Education

Skyller Walkes
Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
College of Pharmacy