College of Education Launches the Texas Center for Equity Promotion

Dec. 15, 2020

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin announces the launch of the Texas Center for Equity Promotion (TexCEP), a new cross-college research endeavor that focuses on equity in education and health, in Texas and across the nation.

TexCEP is poised to serve as a dynamic and prominent interdisciplinary research center for scholars, educators, policy practitioners, and students committed to disrupting and ultimately eradicating entrenched disparities that exist in education and health, and that affect children, families, schools, and communities.

Housed in the College of Education, the center is bringing together diverse scholars from across UT’s colleges and schools, including the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, the College of Liberal Arts, Dell Medical School, and the College of Natural Sciences. Faculty for the center are scholars in fields as diverse as education, educational psychology, health education, and human development and family sciences.

Photo of Charles Martinez
Charles Martinez

“The foundation of the center is about research innovation and about translation of research to practice. At TexCEP, we seek to understand the causal roots of systemic inequities, and to fundamentally disrupt them through applied intervention and program efforts,” says Charles R. Martinez, Jr., dean of the College of Education. Martinez led the effort to establish TexCEP and founded a similar center when he was on faculty at the University of Oregon.

The research center will study disparity using a wide lens, focusing not only on race and ethnicity, but also on the broad intersection of multiple social identities such as those related to socioeconomic status,   language, immigration status, rurality/urbanicity, and gender and sexual identity.

“We will give a unique standing to variables like race and ethnicity as markers of education and health disparities, and we’re also focused more broadly on all the sources of inequities that impinge on positive developments for kids, families, schools, and communities,” Martinez says.

“We want to ensure that the research doesn’t just sit in journals,” he notes. “Our research is designed to be deeply collaborative and centered on community, and we have a responsibility to learn from and listen to expertise from our partners in the community, and to share research knowledge in ways that are understandable and useful.”

As the flagship research university for the state of Texas, UT Austin is home to many outstanding research centers. The goal for TexCEP is to complement important work already being done on campus. “In the planning phase, we consulted across campus broadly to determine how a new equity research center could enhance work already underway in existing centers,” Martinez says. “Over and over again, we heard enthusiasm that this new center would complement equity work either already underway or expand collaboration potential across campus.”

“We are grateful to Dean Martinez for convening a faculty steering committee spanning multiple colleges and schools to conceptualize, and now launch, TexCEP. The center will play an important role in demonstrating how equity-centered research is conducted responsibly for the benefit of society,” says Jennifer Lyon Gardner, deputy vice president for research at UT Austin.

“We know that now, more than ever, there’s a strong sense among faculty at UT of thinking more deeply about the roots of systemic inequity and how what we do as scholars can shine a light on it and disrupt it,” Martinez says.

“In addition to providing a basecamp for UT scholars who are already engaged in equity-centered research, TexCEP also has plans to develop and deliver trainings to support culturally responsive research methods and authentic collaboration with vulnerable populations. There’s a growing desire among researchers at all levels on our campus to learn how to apply an equity lens to their ongoing work and to engage more meaningfully with community partners,” Gardner says.

The center will provide tangible services such as identifying and supporting research grants and organizing equity-focused workshops, training, and continuing education for school leaders, educators and health professionals. 

Two other major focus areas of the center are teaching and mentorship. “To work effectively in the field of education and health, you have to have a foundational understanding of equity,” says Keryn Pasch, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, and TexCEP’s operations director. “One of our main goals in creating TexCEP was to provide a space where we can mentor the next generation of culturally competent scholars and leaders.”

The center will begin meeting its teaching and mentoring mission through a new Postdoctoral Fellows Program. Six post-doctoral students specializing in Latino education and health disparities will have appointments in the center and be mentored by center faculty. Learn more.

Faculty from across the university played an important role in establishing the center.

Planning and Steering Committees

Photo of Germine Awad

Germine Awad, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education

Photo of Sarah Kate Bearman

Sarah Kate Bearman, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education

Photo of Elma Lorenzo-Blanco

Elma Lorenzo-Blanco, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, College of Natural Sciences

Photo of Keffrelyn Brown

Keffrelyn Brown, Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education; Center for Women's and Gender Studies, Center for African and African American Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies Department, College of Liberal Arts

Photo of Esther Calzada

Esther Calzada, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Associate Professor, Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Photo of Kevin Cokley

Kevin Cokley, Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education; Professor, African and African Diaspora Studies Department, Director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, College of Liberal Arts

Photo of Tres Hinds

Tres Hinds, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education; currently Postdoctoral Fellow, Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Photo of Ruben Parra-Cardona<

Ruben Parra-Cardona, Associate Professor, Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Photo of Keryn Pasch

Keryn Pasch, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education

Photo of Erin Rodriguez

Erin Rodriguez, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education 

Photo of Marie-Anne Suizzo

Marie-Anne Suizzo, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education