The University of Iowa has become a charter member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change program. This initiative, which aims to help colleges and universities advance institutional transformation of diversity, equity, and inclusion, aligns with UI’s ongoing strategic planning process, and will provide a mechanism for institutional review, accountability, and evolution in DEI on campus.
The mission of AAAS SEA Change is to inspire, guide, and support the voluntary transformation of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine) fields. SEA Change member institutions commit to the group’s principles to affirm that creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community is a priority.
“In every DEI-related listening session and focus group over the last two years, two themes for change were clear. First, the evaluation of our current policies and procedures, and second, the need for accountability,” said Dr. Liz Tovar, executive officer and associate vice president of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “Gaining an outside view of our DEI health and receiving guidance from an organization like SEA Change provides campus a trusted resource as we move forward.”
The first step will be creating a “change team” consisting of student, faculty, and staff leadership that will examine at current DEI efforts through the lens of three SEA Change pillars: institute, community, and awards.
The “change team” will produce a comprehensive inventory of all DEI activities and content initiatives, and will review policies, procedures, and programs. The team will also evaluate Campus Climate Survey results to better understand Iowa’s DEI challenges and opportunities. After the evaluation stage, the team will develop a plan to build a more inclusive university community and establish accountability processes for DEI growth over the next three years.
Iowa’s DEI faculty fellows Maurine Neiman, professor in the Departments of Biology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, and Bradley Cramer, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, will lead this effort with the Office of the Provost.
“UI’s successful participation in this program will improve Iowa’s DEI landscape at a cohesive and institutional level,” said Neiman. “Our goal will be to translate this work into increased recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students from groups traditionally underrepresented or subject to negative bias or stereotyping in academia.”
The “change team” will be created in the coming months and work will begin immediately. Progress of this effort will be tracked on the DDEI website.
Iowa is one of 24 SEA Change charter members from across the country, and one of three from the Big Ten.