Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dr. Liz Tovar, Executive Director, AVP

To the students, faculty, and staff, welcome back to the University of Iowa! We have all had a busy summer preparing for the fall semester, and we could not be more excited for your return to Iowa City.

Our university is a community of differences, and these differences are what make us strong. Meeting new people is an uncomfortable conversation, but these conversations are what make us better people. Respecting our differences is how we grow. These differences help us understand issues from another viewpoint and expand our thinking. 

The way we approach, respect, and listen to each other helps define our community.  It is up to each of us to ask ourselves, what kind of community do we want to be a part of, then work to build this community!

We are all come to Iowa City from different backgrounds and cultures. For our first-year students, this may be the first time you interact with people other than you. I encourage you to reach out, get to know as many people as you can, and respect the differences that make us all great.  

We kick off the semester with our Week of Welcome events. These events, hosted by the Center for Diversity and Enrichment, are designed to introduce students to peer groups during their transition to college. On Thursday, August 26, from 3-5:00 p.m. on the second floor of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU), we will host our Community of Color event. We encourage students to stop by and meet the members of our cultural houses and learn about our multicultural student organizations.  I look forward to seeing you there!

To our faculty and staff, we have a couple of resources to pass onto you. We have merged the Office of Sexual Misconduct Coordinator, the Office of Equity and Diversity, with the investigative team at the Office of Student Accountability into the new Office of Institutional Equity. All three units will provide a centralized complaint investigative team, a coordinated intake and record-keeping process, and improved response time.  

We have also merged all reporting into one online hub, https://diversity.uiowa.edu/report

Please help us promote this to all students, faculty, and staff. The new page provides the ability to report problems and resources to deal with bias, discrimination, sexual harassment, and misconduct. 

The topic of free speech and its intersection with diversity, equity, and inclusion remains a critical education area for our institution. We are working on a whole-of-university approach to providing more resources on this topic.

It is challenging to have conversations or take actions on these topics. I encourage our faculty and staff to reach out to our DEI Faculty Fellows, Maurine Neiman and Bradley Cramer, as resources on engaging in DEI-related activities, implementing DEI-related practices, and how we can integrate these topics into research, service, and teaching obligations.

We have also just published, with the UI Libraries, the new online DEI guide to help educate our community on DEI resource and connection hub. Please visit this trove of information as it is a valuable resource to assist in our difficult conversations.

Here we go! Let’s have a great semester and grow together as Hawkeyes! Please feel free to contact me at any time, as I am always happy to help.

Go Hawks!

Liz Tovarexecutive officer, and associate vice president
Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.