Building Community

Georgina Dodge

The University of Iowa has a rich history in civil rights and efforts with diversity and inclusion, as demonstrated by its many firsts: the first public university to admit women and men on an equal basis (1855); the first public university in the country to grant a law degree to an African American (G. Alexander Clark, 1870); the first public university to include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its admission application—to name but a few. By embracing all aspects of diversity, advancing inclusion and making difference welcome, we are better able to succeed and excel in an increasingly complex world.

The UI’s Chief Diversity Office has the privilege to partner, consult, and provide leadership with many across campus and in the community. Within this office, the Diversity Resources Team, Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment collaborate with multiple partners to encourage elementary students to attend college; maintain compliance with laws, regulations, and policies; and provide skill-building opportunities.

In our community, inclusion happens in ways both big and small, through well-publicized initiatives or small acts of kindness witnessed by no one. We may have different ideas about how to get there, but we all want the same outcome: a campus that welcomes all of its members, that provides space and respect for differences, and that actively acknowledges the challenge of those efforts, yet embraces that challenge as the embodiment of its values.

Those values must be those of the community, not of any one group or person. Although priorities may vary broadly, there exists on this campus a consistent hunger for knowledge, a desire to learn how best to create a space where one can feel included and successful, and ensure that others also feel included in the spaces we occupy. We want to relate to one another, to be in fellowship together, to bridge differences, and to thrive together.

The following pages contain examples highlighting diversity and inclusion on campus. There is much more work being done at the university and in the community that we do not have space for here, but I express my gratitude to the agents of those actions. And I thank the student journalists and others who have contributed to this publication; we value your voices. We encourage you to share your story by contacting diversity@uiowa.edu, and visit the Diversity at Iowa website, diversity.uiowa.edu, which is the diversity portal for the University of Iowa and contains more news, events, and resources.