As one of the main focuses of any university, academics (including admissions, departments, and resources allocated to programs) can say a lot about a university’s priorities. Explore linked resources in this section to learn more about the racial and gendered history of UT’s academics.

Diversity in Academics

Students gathered during a pre-orientation program based on achieving diversity in academics. (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History – Almetrius Duren Archive)

Some Firsts: Women and POCs

UT has admitted hundreds of thousands of students since its founding in 1883. Explore these linked websites and sources we’ve found to learn about women and people of color.

  • First women to graduate; first women and first women of color faculty members (Daily Texan “Interactive UT History Timeline”)

    • Mrs. Cora Eiland Hicks

  • First admitted Black undergraduate students (Interactive UT History Timeline; Austin Libraries “Desegregation in Austin”)

    • Some celebrated alumni: Dr. Leon McNealy, John Saunders Chase,  

  • First Black graduate and law students (Desegregation in Austin)

  • John Saunders Chase, one of the first black graduate students of UT (first to graduate from School of Architecture, enrolled 1950) and the first licensed architect in the south, also the first black president of the Texas Exes (Humanities Texas)

  • April 1-May 1, the School of Architecture will be exhibiting a collection of Chase’s work, papers, etc.

  • Harriet Murphy UT Law School class of 1969 → became the “first African-American woman appointed to a regular judgeship in Texas”, was an activist (DDCE article)

  • 1964: “Mrs. Cora Eiland Hicks, who in 1953 became the first African American to hold a position higher than a clerk at The University of Texas, is appointed to the University faculty as a teaching assistant in the English Department” (Austin Library)

  • 1953: August Novel Swain (1927-2006) becomes first African American to receive a master’s degree from the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin.(Austin Library)

  • Harriet Murphy


Faculty’s identities and backgrounds can play into the worldview of generations of students. Learn more about progress towards a representative and diverse faculty by exploring these linked sources.

  • Jessie Andrews, grad. 1886 became UT’s first female graduate and a year later was appointed UT’s first female instructor, teaching in the German department for 30+ years (timeline)

  • 1964: “Mrs. Cora Eiland Hicks, who in 1953 became the first African American to hold a position higher than a clerk at The University of Texas, is appointed to the University faculty as a teaching assistant in the English Department” (Austin Library)

  • 1964: “Dr. Ervin Sewell Perry (1935-1970) becomes the first African American to be appointed to the faculty of a previously all-white southern university when he begins teaching at The University of Texas at Austin in September. He is appointed to the position of assistant professor of engineering.” (Austin Library

  • The first black teacher hired (1964) was Cora Eiland Hicks, as a teaching assistant in English (Duren book p 14)  

  • 1967: “a noted black sociologist, Dr. Henry Bullock, was appointed to teach a new Negro history course the following spring” (Duren book p 14)

Majors, Programs, and Departments

Establishing representative programs of study can signify progress. Explore these linked sources to learn more about the trials and triumphs of representative majors and departments at UT.  

  • 1946: “In May, Heman Marion Sweatt files a lawsuit against The University of Texas at Austin president Theophilus Painter and other school officials for denying him admittance into The University of Texas School of Law because he is African American.” (Austin Library) In 1950, after 4 and a half years of legal battles, Sweatt registers at UT (1950)

  • Mexican American Studies

    • Faculty member Américo Paredes had been appointed to create curriculum for the Mexican American concentration within the major “Ethnic Studies” and to supervise the Center for Mexican American Studies. In late spring 1971, Paredes had secured approval for a MAS major. An article in the CMAS’s newsletter El Chisme erroneously claimed that the administration would offer a B.A. in MAS, and then University Vice-President Flawn denied the existence of any Mexican American Studies program whatsoever. This administrative reversal was not accepted, and so MAYO students participated in a lawsuit against UT and the state of Texas for discriminatory practices in education. Success! Now there’s a major. (DDCE article, CMAS Website, LLILAS Website)

  • AADS

    • “The Afro-American Studies and Research Center at the University of Texas was established in June 1969, the same year the University hired its first black faculty member, Dr. Ervin S. Perry. In 2007, the Center was renamed the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies in honor of Dr. John Lewis Warfield, former Director from 1973 to 1986. The Center currently operates under the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. The Center’s goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and programming in Black Studies at the University of Texas and in the community at large.” (Briscoe Center on TARO, AADS Website)

  • Middle Eastern Studies (MES Website, Daily Texan Article)

  • Asian Studies (DAS Website)

  • LGBTQ Studies Program (program Website)

  • Center for Women's & Gender Studies (CGWS Website)

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