Thursday, June 16, 2016

Last week, the University of Iowa began preparations to announce the latest in its ongoing efforts to make this diverse campus and surrounding community more welcoming, safe, and inclusive. The recent events in Orlando now re-affirm the critical importance of those efforts. Our hearts go out to the Orlando victims and their loved ones, and to say that this is a terrible tragedy is to encounter the limits of what words can express.

As shown in the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association’s statement released after the Orlando shooting, attentiveness to the signs and risk factors that may lead to these sorts of tragedies is extremely important, and we must do everything we can to ensure the safety of all in our community.

As our community grows more diverse, we must examine how we enact our values to ensure that our people experience—and most importantly, help to create—a community that enables their success. Over the past year, we have provided various opportunities for students and employees to discuss diversity and inclusion, and we will continue the conversation as we take action on the issues that have already been raised.

We’ve heard a strong desire for more skill-building and training opportunities at the UI, and we are now working with partners to expand offerings in the Building University of Iowa Leadership for Diversity (BUILD) certificate for the coming year. We are particularly interested in increasing faculty participation and examining opportunities to expand training for graduate and undergraduate students.

Our Iowa City community extends beyond the boundaries of the university, and in response to concerns about the experiences that marginalized students, faculty, and staff sometimes have in local businesses, we have begun a partnership with the Tippie College of Business and the Downtown Business District to develop training and incentives for business owners and their employees to build skills for inclusion. We hope to launch our pilot program this winter.

Recognizing a number of ways that we can improve campus for trans* members of our community, and continuing the momentum of engaged members of our community who have been moving these issues forward, we are calling together a Trans* Taskforce to help coordinate change efforts.

And although we’ve made strides to improve the UI’s support for students, employees, and community members, we’ve heard concerns about the lack of knowledge of and access to available resources. As one step towards addressing this, we are beginning a process of reviewing our website,, with particular attention to our Community Resource pages. You can assist by visiting the site and reviewing pages to identify needed content and letting us know at

We are grateful for the participation of our community members whose input and energy have positively moved several projects forward. That being said, there is still much work to do. The University of Iowa values all its people, and we will continue to engage our community to improve the environment for us all. The tragedy in Orlando shows just how critical these efforts are.