Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DDEI) at the University of Iowa continues our evolution to provide leadership and resources to support the University of Iowa's journey to unity. Under the leadership of Dr. Liz Tovar, the Division has made significant strides since January 2021, coordinating DEI efforts, enhancing a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive campus climate, and connecting our university community through our leadership and education resources.

Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) Merger, Speak Out Survey and Anti-Violence Plan

The Division identified the need for centralized reporting and resources for bias, harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct. As a result, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator (OSMRC), the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EOD), and investigators from the Office of Student Accountability (OSA) merged into the new Office of Institutional Equity (OIE). This merger brought together reporting, investigations, response, and soon all data into one unit to better serve the universities students, faculty, and staff. 

The university immediately centralized all reporting and resources of sexual misconduct, bias, harassment, equity, and discrimination at Also, the OSMRC became Title IX and Gender Equity unit led by Monique DiCarlo. EOD split into Equity Investigations and ADA Compliance unit, led by Tiffini Stevenson Earl, and the Equity Compliance unit, led by Jennifer Modestou

OIE also completed the 2021Speak Out Iowa survey to examine sexual misconduct on campus. In conjunction with the survey results, the Anti-Violence Council launched the 2021-2024 Anti-Violence Plan focusing on prevention, messaging "Our Community Cares," education initiatives, and enhancing policy based on the results of the Speak Out Iowa survey.

DEI pillar of the new university strategic plan

As the university embarked on the development of the new strategic plan, the Division led a team of 20 students, faculty, and staff to reimagine the Iowa experience as a fully inclusive institution, respecting the diverse thoughts and ideas of everyone as we learn, teach, and research the next generation of Hawkeyes. 

The committee held multiple key focus groups and listening sessions with over 100 people to develop a plan to embed diversity and equity through proactive cultural change.

Staff Growth

In addition to Charlie Taylor joining the Division as the Director of Communications, the leadership staff grew in 2021 when Andre Perry was hired as the Director of arts, engagement, and inclusion and senior advisor to the executive officer. Andre comes to the university from The Englert Theatre, where he has served as its executive director for the last 11 years. In this new position, Perry will increase the university's DEI engagement efforts by leveraging the transformative power of arts and culture to grow a unified campus climate. He will steward programs, necessary conversations, and policy improvements to develop short- and long-term strategies while providing administrative oversight on campus climate surveys. 

On July 1, 2021, Tabitha Wiggins was named Director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment, where she has been serving as the interim Director since August 4, 2020. Before her promotion to the interim director role, Wiggins served as the Associate Director of Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement.

Diversity Resources (CR) trains Iowa's faculty and staff

The Diversity Resources (DR) unit continued providing training, leadership, and events centered on the universities' DEI growth. Since July 2021, DR has held 91 sessions for 201.75 hours, impacting 2,510 participants to date. 

The BUILD program continues to be the most attended voluntary DEI training program for the faculty and staff. Diversity Resources has completed 73 hours of BUILD training over 22 sessions to 643 participants. Individual departmental training programs have impacted 985 participants in 31 sessions for 43 hours.

DR also awarded the 2021 Seed Grants supporting new initiatives contributing to DEI-related strategic goals at the departmental, college, or university level. To address community-specific needs, DR has partnered with various campus units to re-envision the Hawks of Color program as well as reignited their 20-minute skill-based Sparkshops.

The Center for Diversity and Equity (CDE) 

The Advantage Iowa (AI) program in the Center for Diversity and Equity (CDE) continues to grow with our first-year AI scholars. Beginning in the Fall of 2021, all AI staff participated in an eight-week training program, qualifying them for the national Board-Certified Coach (BCC) exam. Through the fall semester, our academic coaches met with 97% of all students, holding a total of 553 coaching meetings seeing 448 of the 462 AI Scholars.

TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS) is a federal grant-funded program serving Iowa students who demonstrate academic need and are first-generation or low-income or have a verified disability. TRIO SSS provides community building while addressing academic skill-building, career exploration and professional development, DEI, financial literacy, financial aid, leadership, tutoring, and life skills. During the fall of 2021, TRIO SSS made 437 total coaching contacts, held 311 total tutoring sessions, and celebrated the accomplishment of 22 fall graduates with an average cumulative GPA of 3.22.

Upward Bound (UB) is also a federally funded TRIO program preparing low-income and first-generation high school students across the state for postsecondary education. Upward Bound hosted three Saturday Academies exploring social justice, community concept, and collaboration with community resource organizations to complete a service project. Iowa provided services to 158 participants, making 628 contacts totaling 807 contact hours in 2021.

The communications unit grows the DEI message.

A key initiative in 2021 was the development and growth of our communications, marketing, and branding to tell the university DEI stories and promote our services.

The Division completely redesigned the website to tell the institutions DEI stories, educate, and deliver our programs. For the year, the site experienced tremendous growth in pageviews +251% (180,186), unique pageviews 261% (141,693), and average time on page 29% (1:42).

The Division added Instagram, LinkedIn, and a new YouTube channel to our social media storytelling. Growth and engagement on all our channels were substantial. Total social media impressions jumped 119.1% (416,570), total engagements increased by 54.2% (15,238) and post link clicks by +141% (1,389).  

The communications department served the university as a trusted source of content for multiple official statements, developed the new "Note from Liz" series, and shaped the institution's storytelling of Unity Week 2022, highlighting DEI growth year over year.

What's coming in 2022?

Continued coordination of DEI across campus

The Division will continue our commitment to coordinate the university's DEI efforts. We will continue to serve our campus communicators as a central resource for DEI content, education, and messaging. The campus will see an enhanced Campus Climate Survey and the implementation of our new DEI strategic plan aligned with the new university plan in the coming months. Our coordination will continue to grow through the DEI unit leaders' group and the Charter Committee on Diversity in the coming year.

Free Speech and Inclusive Classroom Practice program

The DDEI Diversity Resources team, with ITS, and the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology, have developed a new "Free Speech and Inclusive Classroom Practice" education platform for our faculty and staff. 

The program will be a three-pronged approach, including panels hosted by on-campus experts, followed by workshops to practice specific skills and scenarios and enhance the UI Free Speech website with additional resources for our students, faculty, and staff.

More information will be announced in the coming weeks as we launch this new voluntary program to grow our understanding of free speech at Iowa.

SEA Change participation

We are very excited to announce that through the work of our faculty fellows, the University of Iowa has become a charter member of AAAS SEA Change

The SEA Change program centers on a proven self-assessment process to produce sustainable institutional improvement in DEI at colleges and universities, focusing on STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, medicine).

Iowa will build on existing efforts already aligned with SEA Change. Our institution will use the resources and scaffolding provided by SEA Change to make concrete progress towards achieving tangible and lasting improvement in DEI at the University of Iowa. Our participation in this program will improve DEI at a cohesive and institutional level, translating into qualitative enhancements including, but not limited to, increased recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students from groups traditionally underrepresented or subject to negative bias or stereotyping in academia. This initiative aligns very well with the strategic planning process for DEI, providing a concrete mechanism for accountability.

DEI and the Arts Community

Andre Perry, our new Director of arts, engagement, and inclusion, has already strengthened ties between the Division and the UI's remarkable arts campus. For 30 conversations and listening sessions with faculty, students, and leadership, Perry learned so much about the possibility for the arts community at Iowa.

In 2022-23, Perry will support department heads in building DEI strategies for their programs, serve as an advocate and resource to find solutions to structural challenges, and actively celebrate the fantastic creative research accomplishments of our faculty, MFA, and undergraduate students in UI arts. The Division of DEI is committed to the long-term work of building a more robust, inclusive community wherein artists and educators on the UI's arts campus can feel at home and flourish in their work.