Thursday, February 10, 2022

Liz Tovar Standing
Liz Tovar
Executive Officer and Associate Vice President
Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Continuing the conversation. 

We talk a lot about the need to discuss the challenges we all face. While having conversations is essential, we cannot take 'why' we need to have them for granted. These difficult conversations are about listening and learning. This is how we really grow together as a campus and a community. 

This month, our division has launched a new series, the Journey to Unity Conversations. Each month we will tackle a new topic with the leadership of specific groups. Our effort aims to bring issues we may overlook but are vitally important to listen to and learn from. I encourage you to watch these videos by subscribing to our YouTube page. Please send me questions after each video to discuss each topic, individually and as a campus. Also, if you have a topic you would like us to cover, please let me know.

Part of our growth as a campus is to embed respect and trust in each other while fully understanding our right to free speech. We all received the information on our new, required training program from our Board of Regents, State of Iowa. It is essential for us, students, faculty, and staff, to carve out 15-20 minutes to take this training as a part of our personal journey. Faculty and staff should click here and select First Amendment Training. Students should visit here and select the First Amendment Training course from their course list.

Additionally, in partnership with the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center for Teaching, our division is providing Free Speech Resources as additional opportunities for learning free speech, specifically on campus. We will host eight opportunities for learning by experts from the Office of Institutional Equity, the College of Law, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of the Ombudsperson, Inclusive Education and Strategic Initiatives, the OTLT Center for Teaching, the Division of Student Life, and the Iowa Program for Public Life.

Participants will learn about policies and expectations related to free speech, how to identify if a situation needs to be reported based on a policy or values violation, and how to locate resources for consultation or report possible violations. Interactive workshops will practice specific skills and scenarios related to free speech.

Our campus celebrates Black History Month by highlighting author, professor, feminist, and activist Bell Hooks. Please take a minute this month to learn about Bell's impact on our country and experience the events our campus is holding. I applaud Shalisa Gladney and the Afro-American Culture Center for their work in bringing Black History Month to life on our campus.

As we continue to unify our campus through the arts, I want to reflect on an event I had the honor of speaking at this past week. We are so proud of Lan Samantha Chang—such an impressive leader on our UI campus. She recently celebrated the release of her new novel, "The Family Chao," with a reading and conversation at The Englert Theatre (presented by Prairie Lights and sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.) 

I marvel at Sam Chang's abilities to be an artist, an administrator, and an educator all at once. Since arriving as the Iowa Writers' Workshop director in 2006, Sam has continuously nurtured a community of writers of diverse aesthetics and backgrounds—ensuring that the UI remains one of the most critical places for arts, culture, and literature in the world. Thank you, Sam, for being such an inspiration to our campus!

Also, congratulations are in order for University of Iowa Professors Donika Kelly and Melissa Febos as they are finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards for their books, “The Renunciations: Poems” and “Girlhood.”  Here is a great article from the Daily Iowan telling their stories.

Finally, I want to personally thank Broderick Binns for his DEI leadership in the athletics department as he leaves us for a fantastic opportunity in the private sector. Broderick truly impacted the lives of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff during a critical time. As Broderick departs, we are excited to welcome Lew Montgomery, Associate Director, DE&I Employee Experience, Finance, and Operations Human Resources, and Iowa football alum, to serve as our interim director in athletics. Thank you, Broderick, and welcome, Lew!

As always, Go Hawks!

Liz Tovar
Executive Officer & Associate Vice President
Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Sign up for the Journey to Unity newsletter for DEI news and resources: Click Here
Watch the Journey to Unity Conversations on the Official YouTube Channel of UI DDEI:  Click Here