In discussing protests and demonstrations that have taken place across the country and in Austin over the past weekend, Richard Rhodes, the president and CEO of Austin Community College, said at a board meeting June 1 that the district is prioritizing the hiring of a new chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer.

“There’s a lot of pain, hurt and anger due to racial injustice, especially among our African-American community,” he said. “What happens in one community affects all of us. As a community college, ACC must look deeper at what we can do to affect change.”

Although the district is currently under a hiring freeze due to an uncertain financial future during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is actively looking to fill the position, which manages the district’s Equity and Inclusion Office. The office was established in 2016.

Rhodes said ACC’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center—an initiative to inspire leaders to “break down radical hierarchies” —is a place were the district can encourage honest conversations about race and inequities. The district will continue to keep a commitment to equity front and center and is working on strategies to “erase barriers,” he said.

“We are also prioritizing a community dialogue that fosters open and honest discussion. ACC believes deeply in equity, inclusion, peace and justice. Our hope and desire is that healing takes place and can keep us together as a community,” Rhodes said.