The University of Texas at Austin

“A Hole in Austin’s Soul”: Black Faculty Perceptions of the Austin Community

Research Team: Beth Bukoski, Jessica Jimenez, Stella Smith, Patrick Valdez

Despite Austin’s high placement on many quality of life reports, there exists a perception (reinforced through recent events) that the quality of life in the city differs significantly for Blacks. The recent arrest of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, in his home city that demographically and reputationally resembles Austin, indicates that Black academics may experience challenges to their quality of life and sense of well being when they leave their campus offices. This research proposal seeks to proactively collect the experiences and perceptions of Black academics at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) as it relates to their engagement and involvement in the Austin community by interviewing 30 Black faculty individually and in focus groups to learn of their lived experiences navigating the Austin community beyond their campus offices. Understanding these experiences will help faculty, administrators, and institutional leaders (locally and in communities with similar demographics) to better support and enhance the effectiveness of African-American professors as they balance their academic responsibilities in addition to their connections in and contributions to life in the City of Austin.

Download a synopsis and description of the study here.