Institute shouldn’t ignore diversity

Alex and Cheryl Fairly are paying it forward in a big way at the university from which they both graduated.

The Fairlys are contributing $20 million to West Texas A&M University, creating an institute they say will promote West Texas values.

“The mission of The Hill Institute is to encourage reflection upon the importance of ten West Texas, Texas, and American values and, through study and scholarship, promulgate the values among students within the diverse disciplines of the University and the extended community,” according to a flier distributed by WT.  The institute is named after Joseph Hill, the second president of WT.

I hope they’ll allow this word of caution about the way of life the institute hopes to promote. Do not neglect or give short shrift to the immense diversity that is occurring throughout West Texas. I refer to ethnic, religious and racial diversity among the population that is growing throughout Amarillo and, indeed, in many of the surrounding communities.

The gift is the largest ever given to WT and for their generosity, the Fairlys deserve high praise.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attended the announcement ceremony of the Fairlys’ gift. He said, according to the Texas Tribune, “This is the America that all America used to be, it should be again,” Patrick said of the sprawling, pastoral region whose rural counties and smaller outposts have long been a Republican stronghold. “These are American values here.”

West Texas A&M gets $20 million gift for new institute | The Texas Tribune

Let’s understand, though, that the Panhandle is now home to an increasing number of non-Anglo, non-Christian families. Let’s not deny them their place in the shaping of the Panhandle’s future. Nor let us not forget that even the Texas Panhandle is drifting toward a more “urban” society than it has known.

These changes are inevitable and likely cannot be reversed.