Liz Tovar has been named executive officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the University of Iowa. The position will report to the president and provost and will serve on the President’s Cabinet. Tovar has served as interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion since August 2020. Her first day will be Feb. 1.
“Iowa needs consistent and principled leadership in order to create a more just and inclusive campus,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “Over the past six months, Dr. Tovar has proven she is the right leader to move us forward, and doing another search will not yield someone more capable or dedicated.”
The appointment aligns the university with its past practice of including the DEI leader in the cabinet and their reporting to the president and the provost, which was changed in the summer of 2019.
“I could not be more pleased that Dr. Tovar has agreed to fill this role and that our entire university community will continue to benefit from the stability and leadership she provides,” says Kevin Kregel, interim executive vice president and provost. “She has a clear vision for positive change founded on cross-campus collaboration, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to implement that vision.”
Tovar began a career in academic services in 1998 at the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence, Kansas, where she also received undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in psychology, clinical psychology, and educational leadership and policy studies, respectively. Before joining Iowa in 2013, Tovar managed student services and advised student-athletes in academic, personal, and professional development at KU, The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. While at Iowa, Tovar supervised daily operations within academic services and managed academic and personal support services for student-athletes across all 24 UI sports programs.
“I am honored to lead and be a part of such important work and important change on our campus,” says Tovar. “I look forward to continuing to break down silos and to build relationships across the entire university.”
In her permanent role, Tovar will oversee the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion while also serving as associate athletics director overseeing the area of Student-Athlete Academic Services and continuing her role as a member of the UI Athletics senior management team.
“This strong connection between athletics and the university will be a trailblazing model in higher education. It is an example that members of our Hawkeye community can provide leadership in multiple areas,” says Tovar. “Constructing a structure that is broad, welcoming, and connected is crucial to our success as it will allow us to seamlessly deploy best practices throughout our community.”
In addition, the dual report to the provost will ensure a direct connection to the academic mission of the university.
“The success of our students, faculty, and staff requires each of us to engage in dialogue so that every voice has an opportunity to be heard,” says Kregel. “From an academic perspective, we must recognize that members of our community come from varied backgrounds which requires additional listening and action.”
Tovar’s salary will be $250,000. The appointment must be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.