Letter from the VP


The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leads and supports the university’s strategic charge to advance a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible campus culture. DEI engages the surrounding communities of our multi-campus institution in mission-focused collaborative partnerships.

Welcome to the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion!

As Tarleton’s new inaugural Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), I want to thank you, my new university family, for welcoming me with such warmth and hospitality. I am thrilled to be a Tarleton Texan.

I would like to communicate a few thoughts as we accelerate our efforts to elevate Tarleton’s DEI profile.

I am enthusiastic about the remarkable things happening at Tarleton and excited to contribute my part. Your being deliberately diverse and
intentionally inclusive is what brought me here. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) must happen at a destination institution. A diverse and inclusive operation is a hallmark of excellence.

Diverse stakeholders partnering to create an accessible, equitable, and
inclusive ethos makes Tarleton an exemplar for the nation. We are a
source of inspiration, a beautiful tapestry of unique distinctions.

Tarleton Forward 2030: Our Future-Focused Strategic Plan will surely gain momentum as we invite diverse backgrounds, identities, abilities,
languages, religions, socioeconomic experiences, and political
perspectives into the family. Doing so will challenge us at times, but the rewards will be life-changing. I have confidence, born of faith, that we will learn one from another while transforming our communities and the world.

Over the next few months, I will work with students, faculty, staff, and
alumni to advance DEI Goal III in the strategic plan. I am counting on each of you valued collaborators as we manifest DEIA’s success. Now … let’s continue to inspire and be inspired!

Dr. Sherri Benn
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

New Developments

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What’s up with Campus Climate?

Inclusive campus climates have a meaningful, positive effect on student persistence and success, and play a key role in realizing higher education’s potential to address educational and societal equity gaps.  (American Council on Education, 2022)

Tarleton is preparing to launch a campus climate survey in Fall 2022:

  1. To better understand the experiences and quality of interactions between individuals and groups at the university.
  2. To ensure we are providing a welcoming and empowering experience that provides fair access and opportunities for our students and employees.
  3. To further our support of the well-being and success of all students, in engagement and achievement rates.
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DEI Advisory Council

The Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is an advisory group to the Vice President for DEI comprised of representatives of faculty, staff, and student stakeholder groups. The Council will evaluate and offer feedback and recommendations on institutional-level DEI Strategic Plan goals and objectives to help advance equitable and inclusive learning, research, and work environments.

The Council will meet regularly throughout the year and membership will rotate every two years.  If you are interested in serving on the Council, please click here.

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DEI Alumni Council

The DEI Alumni Advisory Council is an advisory group to the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion comprised of diverse intergenerational Tarleton alumni.  The Council will help promote and advance an inclusive campus climate and community of belonging for all members of the Texan Family.

Members of the inaugural DEI Alumni Advisory Council are, Barbara Barnhart, Sean Guinyard, Antoinette Lollis, Spencer McDuffy, Andre McQuitty, Eddie Nerio, Xandrea Rhodes Reyes, Desmond Robinson, Chelsea Sepolio, Laticia Smith, Slyvester Stewart and Jasmine Trevino.

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DEI Academic Diversity

Through its Academic Diversity Initiative, Academic Affairs at Tarleton State University is committed to supporting diverse faculty and for providing students with in-classroom experiences focused on diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.

Collaborative Initiatives


Check out our latest Collaborative Initiatives!
“There is magic in partnership! It provides the power to transform ordinary learning experiences into dynamic relationships resulting in a synergistic process of accomplishment.” (Iris Saltiel, 2021)

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Mt. Olive Cemetery Project

Tarleton State University is collaborating with the City of Stephenville, Mt. Olive Cemetery Committee, and Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council to continue the work of preserving and recording the history of Mt. Olive Cemetery, Stephenville African American burial grounds. 

Mount Olive Cemetery, located in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas was established over 100 years ago and is the final resting place for over 250 known African-American graves and an estimated 80 unmarked graves.

The Mt. Olive Cemetery project will include a service-learning day, with students geocaching graves and documenting the condition of each headstone. Through the use of the ground-penetrating radar, the city has started the process of locating unmarked remains, in the hopes of identifying accurate locations for all remains in the cemetery.

Upcoming Events

Celebrating National TRIO Day

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Tarleton State University has long supported college access for all students but especially students who are historically underserved in postsecondary education.  The institution’s longest-serving program to provide college access for underrepresented students is the TRIO Upward Bound Program, established at Tarleton in 1980.  Today, Tarleton is home to three TRIO Programs including Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and Student Support Services. Thanks to Tarleton TRIO Programs, hundreds of underserved students have access to postsecondary education. Tarleton TRIO Programs will be commemorating National TRIO Day on February 28 by recognizing and giving back to its many campus and school partners by delivering tokens of appreciation to target school personnel and campus partners who have provided unwavering support for Tarleton TRIO Programs.

Meet The Team

Dr. Sherri Benn
Dr. Sherri Benn
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254)968-0506
Jennifer Hicks
Jennifer Hicks
Executive Assistant
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254)968-1727
Jenny Watts
Dr. Elizabeth Wallace
Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254)968-9576
Dr. Dana Fitzpatrick
Dr. Dana Fitzpatrick
Director of Institutional Inclusive Programs and External Community Engagement
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254) 459-5578
Martin Contreras
Martin Contreras
Director of Disability Resources
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254)968-9650
Jenny Watts
Jenny Watts
Executive Director of TRIO Programs
Email:[email protected]
Phone:(254)968-9369