Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The University of Iowa's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DDEI) is committed to promoting unity and providing resources to teach mutual respect while practicing freedom of expression by everyone. Dr. Liz Tovar leads the Division, which has made significant progress during 2023 in coordinating DEI initiatives, creating a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive campus environment, and connecting the university community through education and leadership resources.

Our Path Forward Through Culture, Community, and Finding Common Ground

Our institution has been a leader in understanding the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We come from a 176-year history of “firsts”.  We are innovators and have shaped our global society and economy throughout our history. Hawkeyes have paved the way for change.  We lead our nation in creative writing, medicine, communications, physics, astronomy, organizational culture, nursing, and business.

2023 served as a platform to begin to reimagine our work on campus.  We worked to message that DEI is defined in the broadest sense possible, including all students, faculty, and staff of the university.  

A second key area of focus is the understanding and education of our right to freedom of expression for everyone, no matter their beliefs or background.

Each of these areas developed our focus on the teaching and practice of inclusive leadership through the focus on building our CULTURE, respecting our COMMUNITY, and finding COMMON GROUND with each other.

We are working to shape our focus on inclusive leadership to include the following:

  • Constant learning and development.
  • Being compassionate and empathic.
  • Listening to understand different viewpoints.
  • Learning everything you can about things you don’t agree with
  • Find common ground to find solutions.
  • Respecting everyone, all the time, especially when you engage with those you disagree with.

DEI Forward Task Force 

The Iowa Board of Regents approved the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Study recommendations on Nov. 16, 2023.  As a result, the University of Iowa launched a task force, led by Dr. Tovar and Dan Clay, dean of the College of Education, to evaluate the Division and all campus-related diversity and inclusion efforts.

The task force's charge is to make recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness of the university’s services and programs and evaluate central DEI efforts to ensure alignment with compliance, accreditation, and grant requirements. The group will also evaluate the structure of diversity and inclusion programming across campus, consider the skill sets students and employees need to lead on campus, review job responsibilities and titles, and establish measurable goals and outcomes. 

The group will develop a plan addressing the ten focus areas in the Iowa Board of Regents study for consideration by President Wilson and Provost Kregel by March 15, 2024. Following its approval, this plan will be presented to the Iowa Board of Regents for consideration at its April meeting. The task force welcomes input for this important work.  Members of the UI community can submit their feedback on the task force’s key questions using this online form.

Academics and Athletics came together to talk about Inclusive Leadership.

At the University of Iowa, continual learning is expected, especially from individuals in leadership roles.  This was proven on October 26, 2023, when top decision-makers from academics and athletics gathered at the College of Pharmacy for a 90-minute candid conversation on inclusive leadership

Led by executive officer and associate vice president Dr. Liz Tovar and associate provost for faculty Dr. Lois Geist, approximately 50 deans, associate deans, department executive officers, and campus leaders sat down with P. Sue Beckwith, MD head women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder, head women's gymnastics coach Larissa Libby, head women's rowing coach Jeff Garbutt, Will and Renee Moon head football coach Kirk Ferentz, and interim director of athletics Beth Goetz to discuss the three Cs of the UI campus experience: CultureCommunity, and finding Common Ground.

Key takeaways from the group included:

  • Leadership in academics and athletics are more alike than they are different.  While our teams and organizations can vary in size, the challenges each faces are very similar, and we can learn much from each other.
  • Being authentic is critical to gaining and holding trust in our organizations.
  • Communicating regularly and actively practicing our values builds a culture requiring less management because it maintains itself in practice.
  • Showing compassion and empathy as a leader is OK, and it authentically shows how much leaders care about their teams.
  • It is crucial to develop a culture that respects every individual in the organization; this allows everyone to do their best work as part of the team.
  • Taking the time to listen is more important than being the one to talk

Center for Inclusive Academic Excellences (CIAE) continues serving students.

The Iowa Edge pre-semester experiences continue to demonstrate a positive impact on new University of Iowa students. The Iowa Edge kicked off its second year as an expanded program. The Fall 2023 cohort connected with peer leaders, faculty, staff, and campus leaders in small group settings.

The cohort consisted of 59 percent self-identified female participants, 38 percent self-identified male participants, and three percent participants who identified as non-binary.

For the first time, the Campus Outreach program served 101 participants (46% first-generation college students) from 13 states and four countries.  Members of the program met regularly with CIAE staff totaling 732 meetings in the Spring, and 1,255 meetings in the Fall.  CIAE is also a study and meeting space for all students.  In 2023, students made 5,015 visits to the DDEI offices.

2023 CIAE Accomplishments include:

  • Margaret Kaus, (former) Assistant Director for Campus Outreach Services, along with colleagues from Learning at Iowa and the Academic Advising Center, were honored as a Best in Region presentation in April 2023 at the regional NACADA Annual Conference. In October, the trio presented their workshop at the national NACADA conference.
  • The CIAE hosted the Fall Youth Summit which brought together 15 high school groups with 298 students and chaperones in attendance. Attendees heard from a dynamic keynote speaker and a corresponding workshop centered around the theme “Empowering Leaders through Self-Discovery.”
  • The Pen Pal Program hosted 75+ West Liberty 4th graders in April 2023 for a day experience campus and having lunch with their pen pal. The Pen Pal Program launched once again in the fall 2023 semester partnering current University of Iowa students with this year’s West Liberty 4th grade cohort.
  • CIAE hosted the inaugural Spring Youth Summit in April 2023.
  • Tabitha Wiggins, Luis Aranda, and Margaret Kaus attended the American Talent Initiative’s Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience along with 50+ faculty and staff colleagues from June 5-7. Tabita Wiggins, Luis Aranda and Margaret Kaus worked on the retention and student success small group to develop a plan of work on eliminating equity gaps and promoting student success university wide.
  • The CIAE continued to strengthen its outreach to Native American and Indigenous persons by assisting with the University of Iowa Powwow in April. In addition, the Iowa First Nations program took place July 16-22. The program hosted eight high school students from two states (Iowa & North Carolina) with four different tribal affiliations. Participants enjoyed a college readiness program designed to immerse them into collegiate life and to facilitate the academic, social, and cultural transition from high school to college.

TRIO SSS & TRIO Upward Bound*

In June, two Upward Bound students were selected to attend the TRIO National Student Leadership Congress (NSLC). Each summer, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) hosts TRIO high school student delegates to participate in a rigorous six-day leadership experience in Washington, D.C. In the summer of 2023, 170 students were hosted at American University, where they participated in a Mock Congress, attended a college fair, met with their Senators and Representatives, and explored the history and beauty of D.C.  NSLC is a competitive program.  UB attendees were Audrey Mah, a senior from Muscatine High School, and Lizbeth Aleman, a senior from West Liberty High School. 

TRIO UPWARD BOUND is in the second year of a five-year grant cycle. The following were achieved during the previous five-year cycle:

  • Academic Performance – Grade Point Average: Over the five years, an average of 81% of participants had a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better at the end of each school year. USDOE goal: 69%
  • Secondary School Retention and Graduation: Over the five years, an average of 99% of participants continued in school for the next academic year at the next grade level or graduated from secondary school with a regular secondary school diploma. USDOE goal: 96%
  • Secondary School Graduation - Rigorous Secondary School Program of Study: Over the five years, an average of 82% of participants who graduated from high school completed a rigorous secondary school program of study. USDOE goal: 20%
  • Postsecondary Enrollment: Over the five years, an average of 80% of participants who graduated from high school during the year with a regular secondary diploma enrolled in a program of postsecondary education by the fall term immediately following high school graduation. USDOE goal: 45%­­
  • Postsecondary Completion: Over the five years, an average of 58% of participants who enrolled in a program of postsecondary education by the fall term immediately following high school graduation or by the next academic term (e.g. spring term) as a result of acceptance but deferred enrollment, will attain either an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years following graduation from high school. USDOE goal: 13%

*Please note that there may be information that overlaps with the 2022-2023 academic year as they are working on their annual report for the previous academic year. Federal program reporting is typically about a year behind based on their report timelines.

Tabitha Wiggins was selected as the Assistant Vice President for Campus Inclusion and Community at Northwestern University

Wiggins returning to her hometown of Chicago, IL to advance her career and lead. The Division of DEI is excited for Tabitha Wiggins, Director of the Center of Inclusive Academic Excellence, on her appointment to the Assistant Vice President for Campus Inclusion and Community (CIC) at Northwestern University.

A Chicago, IL native, Tabitha is returning home to serve as a key member of the Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT) and oversee the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Religious and Spiritual Life, Social Justice Education, and Student Enrichment Services units.

Inclusive Education and Strategic Initiatives (IESI) maintains education initiatives across campus.

The IESI staff conducted voluntary training workshops totaling 344.5 hours of instruction to 3,065 faculty and staff members over 127 sessions. These workshops were primarily in the Building University of Iowa Leadership Diversity (BUILD) program, the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), and the LGBTQ+ Safe Zone program.  As a part of our evolution, the unit began using the SWIPE system to measure participation in workshops.

Highlights throughout 2023 include:

  • New Director leading IESI:
  • BUILD:
    • A total of 268 BUILD certificates were awarded of which 64% were from the six-week BUILD cohort program.
    • The department hosted two BUILD cohorts this year, one in the spring and the other in the summer.
  • NCBI:
    • The Department participated in a day-long NCBI Campus affiliate webinar, held NCBI “Train the Trainer” in March, and hosted three NCBI refresher courses in October.
  • Off-Campus:
    • IESI hosted nine off-campus workshops from Jan. to Sept. 2023, including SCORE Board of Directors, UI Health Care in Eaton, IA, The VA, Johnson County Supervisors, Oaknoll Retirement Community, and the Hawkeye on Safety Conference.
  • Return to in-person:
    • Diversity Council Leadership and the DEI Success Collaborative went back to meeting in person since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of Institutional Equity

Iowa Board of Regents ADA Summit

The University of Iowa hosted the Iowa Board of Regents ADA Summit on Oct. 26, 2023.  Over 125 registrants from colleges and universities all over the state met for a day of programming to raise awareness of issues related to disability and higher education at Iowa Regents Institutions campuses and elsewhere throughout the state.

This year marked the 13th annual summit, featuring sessions on emotional support animals, compassion fatigue, accessible event planning, and transitional educational programs for students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. The event was hosted by the University of Iowa's Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office of Equity Investigations and ADA Compliance with support from the Office of Institutional Equity, Student Disability Services, Faculty and Staff Disability Services, Leave and Disability Administration, Facilities Management, and Information Technology Services.

UI President Barbara Wilson provided the welcome and participants heard from a variety of speakers including Dr. Stephen Courtright on Recognizing and Addressing Job Burnout: An Evidence-Based Perspective, Len Sandler on Housing & Service Animals, and Allison Levine on Disability Bias in Education.

Anti-Violence Plan Progress

The Office of Institutional Equity, Title IX, and Gender Equity (TIXGE) lead a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort with campus and community partners to implement the 2021-2024 Anti-Violence Plan. The TIXGE unit is especially grateful to the Division of Student Life for their years of partnership and leadership with the Plan. Members working on this multi-disciplinary team are noted here

Plan outcomes in 2023 included:

  • The UI Employee Assistance Program (EAP) established a workgroup to gather and review aggregate data related to respect in the workplace.
  • EAP’s website promoted behaviors for engaging in healthy relationships.
  • A new employee training course was established to focus on boundaries and empowerment to execute boundaries if needed, as well as referral to EAP services.
  • EAP staff trainers will use a resource developed through the Plan, a Boundaries video in the new training program. 
  • Policy education recommendations were made.
  • A video to encourage successful linkage with a sexual assault nurse examiner was developed,
  • A video to help explain what happens after a report is made to the Title IX and Gender Equity unit.

For a complete list of outcomes from the Plan, please visit 2021-2024 Anti-Violence Plan.

UI Workforce changes

From November 1, 2022, to November 1, 2023, the University of Iowa’s workforce increased by 664 employees (+3.4%), from 19,332 to 19,996.

  • The faculty and staff increased by 418 women (+3.3%). 
  • Total racial/ethnic minority representation increased by 241 faculty and staff (+8.0%).  Net changes among racial/ethnic groups were:
    • + 125 Blacks/African Americans (+16.3%)
    • + 56 individuals identifying as two or more races (+41.5%)
    • + 47 Hispanics/Latinos (+5.4%)
    • + 11 Asians/Pacific Islanders (+0.9%)
    • + 2 American Indians/Alaska Natives (+4.5%)
  • There was a decrease of 17 tenured/tenure track faculty (-1.3%). 
  • The number of women faculty members on the tenure track decreased by 6 (-1.3%), maintaining representation at 35.8%.
  • The number of minority faculty members on the tenure track increased by 9 (+2.9%), increasing representation from 24.2% to 25.2%.
  • Representation of women among executive, administrative, and managerial staff increased by 6 (+3.0%), from 50.0% to 50.1%.
  • The number of racial/ethnic minorities among executive, administrative, and managerial staff decreased by 1 (-1.5%), from 16.4% to 15.7%. 
  • Minority representation among professional and scientific staff increased by 111 staff (+8.7%), from 10.7% to 11.2%.
  • While hiring goals were achieved in some departments/job groups, underrepresentation of women and minorities remains in other areas.  With all underrepresented departments and job groups aggregated, the university is currently underrepresented by 409 women (2.0% of the total workforce) and by 268 minorities (1.3% of the total workforce).[1]
  • There was a net increase of 26 employees (+7.2%) who self-reported having disabilities.
  • There were decreases in the numbers of disabled veterans (-2), Active-Duty Wartime/Campaign Badge veterans (-13), and Armed Forces Service Medal veterans (-2).  The number of recently separated veterans increased by 3.


[1]           Underrepresentation is defined as having fewer women or minorities in a particular job group or department than would reasonably be expected by their availability.  For more information on the determination of underrepresentation, see Section V of this report.