Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Liz Tovar Standing

To all our December graduates, congratulations on your accomplishments, and all our students, you have made it! Finish strong this week, and we look forward to your return to campus. As we prepare for the winter break, our work across the university continues preparing for a busy Spring semester.

Journey to Unity Week will begin on January 17th, 2022, celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The MLK Celebration of Human Rights will start our week of unity. Tuesday, we will celebrate our people, Wednesday, our achievements, and Thursday, our programs and resources. Finally, we will tell our growth stories and highlight our plans for the coming year on Friday.

All our colleges and units across campus will celebrate these stories on their social media channels and websites. The Division of DEI will aggregate our messages at, so check back in January as we celebrate our "Journey to Unity" at the University of Iowa.

I want to recognize the fantastic work done as we conclude phase one of our new university strategic plan. Our DEI strategic planning development team approached this work with a destination university in mind. We have reimagined the University of Iowa experience as a fully inclusive institution, respecting the diverse thoughts and ideas to prepare the next generation of Hawkeyes to change the world. 

To Sara Sanders, Armando Duarte, Matt Anson, Venise Berry, William Coghill-Behrends, John Culshaw, Nicole Del Castillo, Paul Gilbert, Nicole Grosland, Weimin Han, Liz Lara, William Nelson, Deb Tiemens, Selveyah Gambia, Mirra Anson, Angie Lamb, Kathy Andrews, Moala Bannavti, Noel Mills and Sriram Chari THANK YOU for the time and contributions. We have built a vision and roadmap for a new, inclusive experience for the future of our great institution. Also, THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our listening sessions and key informant meetings for your valuable insight as it truly shaped our work.

We have announced the winners of the Diversity Seed Grants. We are proud to assist the work of by Graduate College's Graduate Success Center, Graduate College-DEI, Pan Asian Council (PAC), International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), and Graduate Student Senate (GSS); the Department of Biology; the UI Main Library; The Baker Teacher Leader Center; UI College of Education and the UI School of Social Work.

This spring, we will be the first annual DEI Forum on our campus. We will bring together our colleagues from Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to share our work and learn best practices. We plan to discuss the intersection of free speech and DEI, creating sustainable DEI leadership, understanding student activism, and DEI organization outcomes. Stay tuned for more information after the new year on how you can be a part of this event for a statewide discussion of DEI growth.

Finally, it is the season to give thanks, and I want to recognize the following individuals for their outstanding work this semester.  

  • Lew Montgomery, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Employee Experience at the University of Iowa. Thank you for joining our institution.  You are impacting many across our campus in a positive way!.  
  • Congratulations to Dr. (Staff Sgt.) Maria Bruno with the Division of Student Life.  Maria received the Hawkeye Distinguished Veteran's Award. Thank you for your service to the University of Iowa, your military service, and your service to our students, faculty, and staff.  
  • Dr. Jeanine Abrons from the College of Pharmacy. Over the past year, Dr. Abrons has won multiple awards for her DEI-related work, including the 2021 APHA Foundation Pinnacle Award for her global leadership in medication management for underserved populations. We are proud you are a Hawkeye, and thank you for your great work, not only here but around the globe!

Have a great winter holiday and a safe New Year! I look forward to the exciting work we are about to do in 2022 to bring our campus closer together and provide the best experience for our students, faculty, and staff! 

Liz Tovar
Executive Officer and Associate Vice President

Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion