The very nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion work includes a never-ending journey where historic events such as those we are experiencing today can further expose disparities, oppressive systems, and the insufficient effort to create sustainable change.
The global pandemic and killing of George Floyd and countless others before him remind us just how much more work we need to do. It is imperative for the University of Iowa, now more than ever, to be clear about its values and demonstrate its commitment to justice through action. Action is about providing structures that center voices who have been pushed to the margins. Action is about listening and implementing feedback. Action is about increasing awareness of the role we play in perpetuating the very systems we are trying to change. Action is about recognizing and appreciating the many individuals whose daily purpose ensures all members of the Hawkeye community feel safe, connected, and valued. Thank you to everyone who day-in and day-out gives themselves to the heavy head and heart work.
The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion wants to acknowledge and highlight some of the incredible efforts of various staff, faculty, and students – many of whom are directly impacted by unjust systems – who demonstrate that the University of Iowa is committed to institutional change beyond this moment.
Below are some updates from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan from the spring 2020 semester. Our transparency paired with public accountability is key to building a culture and community where diversity, equity, and inclusion can thrive. Please note that these updates are not representative of all the work occurring across campus.
- Enhance institutional, unit, and individual accountability for achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion-related outcomes (Strategy 4-A).
- Task Underway: Forty senior UI leaders (including all cabinet members and deans) will participate in an eight-session Racial Equity Institute. This training will occur in fall 2020 with the additional expectation to implement eight projects related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Iowa and surrounding area.
- Facilitate the increased use of data to inform diversity, equity, and inclusion-related decision making (Strategy 4-B).
- Task Underway: The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Data Taskforce focuses on identifying high-impact metrics, creating resources to increase data literacy, and launching the 2020 Campus Climate Survey. Resources and tools created from this group will inform actions to address representation, climate, and responsible data use.
- Task Underway: The Faculty and Staff Campus Climate Survey will be administered in fall 2020. The survey has been revised from the 2018 version and will collect the experiences of all campus members with reliable, actionable information for leaders to address campus and departmental culture.
- Recognize and value diversity, equity, and inclusion-related research and scholarship through formal and informal processes (Strategy 3-C).
- Task Underway: The Diversity Seminar Series is a series of weekly presentations that provide a safe and supportive space in which scholars may present their research to colleagues and students on campus. Nine sessions were held during the spring 2020 semester. All sessions were recorded, close captioned, and are available for public viewing. Proposals for fall 2020 are currently being collected.
- Implement research-informed practices to assess and enhance the retention and advancement of underrepresented faculty (Strategy Fac 2-C).
- Task Underway: The new Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PPFP) will provide support for promising postdoctoral scholars who will contribute to the diversity of our faculty. The PPFP program has announced its first cohort with College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), College of Public Health, and the Carver College of Medicine as hosts.
- Increase the persistence and four-year graduation rates for underrepresented students (Strategy Und 2-C).
- Task Underway: The Path Forward Student Success Committee received funding from the Office of the Provost to launch phase 1 of evaluating and transforming gateway courses (e.g., college algebra) that have high D, F, and withdrawal rates. The new associate dean for undergraduate education in CLAS, will lead this project, assisted by a staff member in Academic Support and Retention.
- Strengthen initiatives that address students’ needs for food, clothing, safety, wellbeing, and financial security (Strategy Und 2-D).
- Task Underway: Food Pantry @ Iowa, in collaboration with the office of Leadership, Service, and Civic Engagement, responded to the impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity by quickly mobilizing efforts and modifying operations to meet student, staff, and faculty needs. The food pantry partnered with HACAP and CommUnity to assist in logistics and modified operations to provide specific pick-up times with limited contact and bagged groceries. Within the first two weeks, Food Pantry @ Iowa served more than 131 individuals and provided more than 4,400 pounds of food. Modified operations will continue through summer 2020 and additional guidance will be provided for fall 2020.
- Task Underway: The Hawkeye Completion Grants, Hawkeye Retention Grants, and the Student Emergency Fund through the Office of the Dean of Students have been critical during COVID-19 in providing support, removing financial barriers, and assisting with basic needs. The Student Emergency Fund has received more than 1,600 applications for assistance. About 1,200 have been approved for funding for a total of $359,514 in assistance to students. Applications continue to be reviewed by Student Care and Assistance and the Office of Student Financial Aid as they are submitted. The UI Center for Advancement partnered with the Division of Student Life to create the Student Life Emergency Fund and raised more than $100,000 in donations to support the efforts and create sustainable support for the fund.
- Embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in all talent acquisition practices and support departments in recruiting a diverse staff. (Strategy Staff 2-B).
- Task Complete and Ongoing: The diversity talent recruiter role was piloted in University Human Resources (UHR) resulting in 20% of UHR new hires that identify as a racial/ethnic minority. This focused effort has had direct effect on the composition of UHR staff, increasing the number of staff who identify as a racial/ethnic minority from 6.8% in October 2016 to 15.5% in January 2019. The role has since transitioned to a service provided to colleges/divisions that choose to centralize recruitment efforts and utilize UHR’s talent acquisition office.
- Support and implement programs and devote central resources to enhance retention of a diverse workforce and promote an inclusive culture (Strategy Staff 2-C).
- Task Underway: The Health Coach Service and all other trainings and services from UI Employee Assistance Program, liveWELL, and Family Services added an evaluation question for individuals to indicate if their identities were respected during participation in any of the aforementioned services. The 2020 data to date for Health Coach Service is: 73% strongly agree, 25% agree, 2% not applicable or neutral.
- Ensure that administrators, faculty, and staff are effective at promoting, modeling, and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion core values (Strategy 1-E).
- Task Underway: The Campus Inclusion Team is developing and revising processes to share and collaborate with stakeholders, shared governance, students, and campus partners, including but not limited to, the Demonstration Safety Team, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Division of Student Life Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Team, and Path Forward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Campus Committee. The collaborative process will include training, communication strategies, and a response process. These efforts are currently underway in summer 2020 with planned implementation in academic year 2020-2021.
In addition to the action plan items listed, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will collaborate with various campus partners to reevaluate the communication response protocol for the division and across campus. The purpose of this protocol is to guide administrative communication to be collaborative, efficient, and transparent between campus units in regard to incidents at the local level and/or influenced by national events that impact and challenge a welcoming and inclusive campus community.
Our commitment must expand beyond the present to ensure safety, engagement, and resources for all those wanting to pursue excellence at the University of Iowa. Thank you for your continued commitment, partnership, and passion.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Director of Diversity Resources and Strategic Initiatives
Director of Equal Opportunity & Diversity, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment