Wednesday, February 3, 2021
The University of Iowa Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As we move into the final semester of the 2019-2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, it is important to celebrate the incredible efforts achieved across campus while simultaneously holding space for all that is still unfinished and the work we have left to do. What can be true with any action plan is that acknowledging what is most important may not always be the number of tasks completed, but rather the transformation that has occurred, seeds laid, or people empowered. Thus, we would like to begin this update with some examples of how campus has improved overall because of the attention on the action plan’s critical tasks. Improvements linked to the plan include:

  • Increased number of resources available to make campus and the working environment more inclusive and equitable (e.g., central accommodation fund, inclusive brand guide, funding/support resources from the Division of Student Life)
  • Increased ownership of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts (e.g., new infrastructure and strategic planning in units/colleges)
  • Strengthened coordinated communication between diversity, equity, and inclusion groups and constituents (e.g., DEI Success Collaborative, Diversity Council Leadership Coalition, DEI Charter Committee)
  • Enhanced understanding of belonging to campus (e.g., graduate student social events, campus climate survey/data collection)
  • Review of policies/practices to ensure equity (e.g., international scholarship, ACE review, implicit bias training for search processes)
  • Improved competence and commitment of UI leadership to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g., leadership training)

We are proud of the direction we are headed and encourage others to join. Creating a more inclusive and equitable environment demands constant attention and resiliency beyond the timeline of plans. That said, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in partnership with the Path Forward-DEI Work Group and collaborators across campus, would also like to highlight work being done on a few specific critical tasks:

  • Engage communications specialists, scholars, and diverse campus constituencies to review the UI Brand Manual Editorial Style Guide. (Strategy 1-B).
    • Task completed and ongoing: With guidance from other campus’s diversity style guides, faculty, staff, and various groups on campus at UI worked together to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Style Guide. This guide is meant to answer questions, highlight best practices, and provide thoughtful guidance on topics that may arise when creating or editing content. A copy of the guide can be found on the UI Brand Manual website.


  • Develop a campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Success Team modeled after the UI Student Success Team to provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and student diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders to come together. (Strategy 1-C).
    • Task underway: In an effort to create a community of practice for The UI diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders across campus, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Success Collaborative (DEISC) was created. Meeting quarterly, this group consists of individuals across the campus who are directly engaged in the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within their designated area or areas for networking, streamlined communication, and engaging in collaborative efforts to create more focused and coordinated institutional change.


  • Expand Graduate College programs for underrepresented minority (URM) and first-generation graduate students to include orientation programs and ongoing programs that address timely issues of professional development and academic success. (Strategy Grad 2-C).
    • Task underway: In an effort to support new students of color as well as create space for all underrepresented graduate students, the Graduate College created a series of programs titled Connecting Communities. This effort specifically focuses on relationship building with peers, learning how to navigate the academe, preparing for UI graduate life, and connecting with mentors.


  • Develop an online video that provides foundational information about the research on bias in academic and administrative processes and strategies for mitigating its effect. (Strategy Fac 2-B).
    • Task underway: An Implicit Bias Taskforce has been assembled to increase the capacity of implicit bias trainers on campus as well as access to foundational implicit bias information. As part of its charge, two sets of train-the-trainers will be hosted in the spring (one focused on the search process and one focused on general knowledge). A series of online, informational videos regarding the foundational components of implicit bias also will be created and made available campus wide.


  • Use Excelling@Iowa data to understand experiences of belonging, contributors to persistence, and effective interventions for URM and other underrepresented students. (Strategy Und 2-C).
    • Task underway: Beginning in fall 2020 and under the leadership of the Path Forward Student Success Work Group, several strategies related to select gateway courses have been implemented. These strategies include strengthening departmental commitment to rewarding and incentivizing departments, increasing the use of evidence-based practice by faculty/instructors, increasing the use of institutional data, and expanding training and pedagogical support for graduate students.


  • Complete the 2019 Professional Students, Post-Doctoral Scholars, and Post-Graduate Trainee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Climate Surveys and listening sessions and use the data to improve the experiences of students and trainees in the professional schools and programs. (Strategy 3-A).
    • Task underway: Beginning in fall 2020, postdoctoral scholars were included in the faculty and staff Campus Climate Survey and recorded an overall 16% participation rate. In spring 2021, professional students will receive a specialized climate survey that includes components of the Graduate Student Experience at Research Universities (SERU) survey and the faculty and staff climate survey. Professional students will complete this survey alongside graduate and undergraduate students.


  • Charge the task force revising the Assessing the Classroom Environment (ACE) student evaluation form to include items addressing instructor diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies and to develop resources for department chairs and other faculty reviewers on the effective and equitable use of ACE scores. (Strategy 3-A).
    • Task underway: The ACE Task Force has developed resources for administrators to use ACE scores equitably. To supplement these efforts and to address bias that can occur, this group is working to create videos that address bias and its implications in the evaluation of faculty. More about their diversity, equity, and inclusion  efforts can be found on the ACE Task Force website.


  • Promote UI’s population-specific clinical services (e.g., Ethnic Skin Care Clinic, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Clinic, UI Stead Family Children's Hospital Sickle Cell Care Team, Geriatric and Specialty Needs Dental Clinic, Center for Disabilities and Development) as valuable resources in employee recruitment materials. (Strategy 3-D).
    • Task completed and ongoing: The LGBTQ Clinic recently launched gender affirming vaginoplasty services along with hiring three new plastic surgeons to perform top surgery. Upcoming goals include developing gender affirming voice therapy and facial feminizing surgery. The Ethnic Skin Care Clinic continues to offer specialized services for skin of color patients. Services include medical counseling, surgery, laser treatments, electrosurgery, cosmetics, and more.

Given the changes at the university and in the world more broadly, we also have identified 10 of the 116 critical tasks as needing additional time, energy, and resources beyond the timeline of this 2019-2021 plan. These items are important and will be shifted into the next strategic planning period.

As we lean into the final chapter of this action plan, we thank you for your continued commitment answer the countless hours spent trying to make the University of Iowa a better place to learn, work, and lead.



In unity,

Liz Tovar

Interim Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Cheryl Reardon

Chief HR Officer & Associate Vice President for University Human Resources

Co-chair for Path Forward-DEIC Work Group


Julie Zerwic

Dean and Professor for College of Nursing

Co-chair for Path Forward-DEIC Work Group


Bria Marcelo

Director for Diversity Resources and Strategic Initiatives