Monday, May 16, 2022
Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

New Liz Tovar

The Monday after graduation. 

We had many great moments this year, but I write this while watching new news of racism fueled mass shootings in stores and churches across our country.  New hate crimes and racial slurs are increasing in our nation.  We continue to have war around the world impacting Hawkeyes here, at home. 

We have more work to do to build respect and civility. 

We need to continue to journey with our personal well-being and mental health.  It is time to use the tools we have to replace hate with understanding, and violence with conversation.  We need to learn to listen to each other before we yell at each other. 

Compassion, empathy, and caring for our neighbors, no matter their culture continue to be part of our core work.  Our university will continue to strive to be a welcoming place for all.  We will keep doing the work to better teach, continue to learn and build community. 

If you are impacted by recent events, please reach out as there are people who are here to help you.  I can be reached directly at Elizabeth-Tovar@uiowa.edu or use the services of Mental Health at Iowa.

When we have moments like this, I look to moments of inspiration.  Most recently, we had two of these moments.  I was able to have a fantastic “Journey to Unity” conversation with members of the Jewish Community.  I continue to see the same challenges across our different identities while we celebrate their culture. 

I will also never forget the day our campus united to welcome Anne Frank to Iowa City.  The planting of the Anne Frank Tree on the Pentacrest was a powerful moment, shared by our entire community.  Through our conversation, the song, and the words of “hope” from Amal Kassir, not only honored our Jewish community but reinforced our universities values symbolized in this new tree.

These events give me hope.

I look back over the last 10 months and cannot be more proud of this class of Hawkeyes.  Graduation Weekend reminds all of us of why we are at Iowa, why we do our jobs and the importance of continuing the work.  Watching, teaching, learning from, and growing with our students.

This class has graduated during a global pandemic reimagining our entire experience.  There wasn’t a playbook to tackle the challenges of remote learning or missing those important in-person moments.  Then we also adjusted to coming back to campus in a new environment in order to stay safe. These Hawkeyes continued their studies while the world watched social unrest and discrimination impact many on our campus. 

It could easily be said that this class, the Class of 2022, has endured more in their time at Iowa than most.  I am reminded of that famous quote, “What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.”  This is the strongest group of Hawkeyes to walk across the graduation stage.  Their perseverance has given me a renewed sense of hope and has re-inspired me that the Hawkeye experience, no matter what comes our way, prepared our students to handle anything that comes their way.  Our future is in great hands.  Congratulations to all our graduates.

I want to take a moment to thank our staff.  The members of the Division of DEI work tirelessly to serve our students, faculty, and staff.  In the past year, we have increased our resources around free speech education; certified all our academic coaches; our newly merged Office of Institutional Equity continues its work to become as effective and efficient as possible; we have increased our communications across campus and in the public.  Finally, we have executed and are finalizing our review of our most recent campus climate survey.

Tabitha Wiggins, Brianna Marcelo, Jennifer Modestou, Monique DiCarlo, Tiffini Stevenson-Earl, Andre Perry, and Charlie Taylor have led our staff throughout the year.  Thank you for your leadership and work for Iowa.  I want to give a special shout-out to the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence leadership for being honored with an I.O.W.A. (Improving Our Workplace Award) for community building and collaboration, student satisfaction, and healthy working relationships in a supportive environment. Congratulations CIAE!

I have renewed hope and inspiration for our work.  Let’s keep doing the work. 

Thank you for another great year and congratulations to all our graduates!

 

Liz Tovar