New Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan identifies four goals for campus to achieve by 2021

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Results from the University of Iowa’s first-ever comprehensive campus climate surveys show that a vast majority of respondents say they are satisfied with their decision to work at the UI or satisfied with the overall campus experience. 

The data also show that the UI faces several challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as campus climate.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values on our campus,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “We thank those who participated in the surveys and listening sessions for telling us where and how we can improve. While some of that feedback was difficult to read and hear, we have already begun taking action in a number of areas and will address others through the steps and goals outlined in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan. We clearly have much to do to be inclusive on every level. Working together, I am confident we will quickly make significant progress.”

Following are the goals outlined in the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan that the campus will be working to achieve in the next two years and beyond, along with key findings from the campus climate surveys and related action steps to achieve each goal. The key findings and action steps listed here are only a few examples of the work that will need to be done to achieve each goal.

  • Goal One: Create and sustain an inclusive and equitable campus environment.
    • Key Finding: About 70 percent of faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students report being somewhat or very satisfied with the campus environment they have experienced at the UI. However, there are substantial differences in reported satisfaction among faculty, staff, and students that are patterned by social identities and demographic characteristics. 
    • Key Finding: The vast majority of faculty, staff, and students agree that the university provides an environment for the free and open expression of ideas, opinions, and beliefs.
    • Action Step: Develop a tool to support units in auditing their physical environments in support of creating visually welcoming and inclusive spaces on campus. Among the items to be included would be an assessment of gender-neutral restrooms, accessibility features, hearing-loop rooms, images on walls, visual brochures and reading materials, as well as building and room names. Provide guidance for conducting the audit, including engaging diverse constituents in the process and facilitating discussions about strategies to honor the UI’s history, benefactors/donors, and commitment to inclusive spaces.
    • Action Step: Revise and implement the current Collaboration and Embracing Diversity Universal Competency that applies to all professional and scientific staff, merit staff, merit supervisory-exempt staff, confidential, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) performance appraisals. 
  • Goal Two: Recruit, retain, and advance a diverse campus community of faculty, staff and students.
    • Key Finding: Almost 50 percent of women faculty and 60 percent of underrepresented minority faculty report that they have seriously considered leaving the UI in the past 12 months. About 50 percent of faculty and 60 percent of staff who have seriously considered leaving the university report that departmental climate was one of the reasons they have considered leaving.
    • Key Finding: Patterned disparities based on social identities exist in experiences of lack of respect and belonging that correspond to the patterned disparities seen in graduation and retention rates.
    • Action: Continue to implement, publicize, and evaluate the three-year Distinction through Diversity fund designed to recruit and retain faculty members who will advance the UI’s academic mission through the recruitment and retention of underrepresented U.S. racial/ethnic minority (URM) faculty and students.
    • Action: Continue support of University Housing and Dining’s Residence Education goals for more inclusive conversations by providing diversity or implicit bias training for students and enhancing programming and education on hate speech, free speech, etc. 
  • Goal Three: Integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the university’s core academic mission of teaching, curriculum development, research and discovery, engagement, and clinical services.
    • Key Finding: For many groups of students, difficulty speaking up in class and concern that they will be negatively judged by their peers or the instructor are among the most commonly reported obstacles in achievement of school work or academic success.
    • Key Finding: The majority of faculty report that their diversity-related contributions have been or will be valued for promotion and tenure in the areas of research, teaching, and service. A much lower percentage of underrepresented minority faculty agree that their diversity-related contributions have been or will be valued for promotion and tenure.
    • Action: Complete the 2019 Professional Students, Post-Doctoral Scholars, and Post-Graduate Trainee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Climate Survey and listening sessions and use the data to improve the experiences of students and trainees in the professional schools and programs.
    • Action: Engage faculty leadership and administration to identify ways in which diversity, equity, and inclusion-related contributions and activities can be recognized as valuable and valid in faculty annual and promotion reviews. Develop tools and promote faculty peers in leading discussions at the departmental level.
  • Goal Four: Enhance campuswide diversity, equity, and inclusion accountability, effectiveness, and collaboration.
    • Key Finding: The vast majority of faculty, staff, and students agree that the UI has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
    • Key Finding: The vast majority of faculty, staff, and students agree that diversity, equity, and inclusion are implemented and effectively promoted by central administration, college or unit leadership, and departmental leadership.
    • Action Step: Require central administrative units to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion-related goals, strategies, and metrics in their unit strategic plans beginning in Fiscal Year 2020 and colleges to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion-related goals, strategies, and metrics in their strategic plans and/or develop diversity, equity, and inclusion action plans by Fiscal Year 2021, as currently stated in the UI Strategic Plan 2016–2021.
    • Action Step: Establish key institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion success metrics regarding faculty and staff recruitment, retention and advancement, as well as student recruitment, retention, and success; communicate success metrics to units and provide data sources to assist in planning processes.

“The University of Iowa is steadfast in its commitment to create a community in which all of our faculty, staff, and students can build their lives in an environment that values the unique contributions of every individual,” says Melissa Shivers, vice president for student life and interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Improving the campus climate will require sustained, community-wide effort, and it’s critical to the future success of our university. There is an energy on campus to roll up our sleeves and get to work.” 

The complete campus climate surveys and reports; the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan; and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Digest can be found on the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website.

The surveys of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff were administered in spring 2018.

The survey data were used to develop the new two-year DEI Action Plan, which outlines key strategies, critical tasks, and an accountability structure to achieve five key outcomes by June 30, 2021:

  • A stronger sense of belonging and inclusion on campus by members of the UI community;
  • Increased ownership of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by students, faculty, and staff members;
  • Improved competence and commitment among members of the UI community to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Reduced intergroup disparities between underrepresented and majority groups, including but not limited to disparities in hiring, enrollment, retention, and graduation rates; and
  • Increased ability of each member of the university community to bring their authentic selves to their living, learning, and working environments.

“This action plan represents the hard work of dozens of people across campus and was informed by the campus climate surveys, Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) data, listening sessions, research, and a review of best and promising practices from other campus models,” says Shivers. “The creation of the action plan was a true collaborative effort of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan Development Group and the Charter Committee on Diversity, and was vetted with many invested campus partners. It is important that those who expressed concern know we are listening, that we continue to listen, and that we are using the feedback to effect change.” 

Campus community members who would like to further discuss the campus climate survey results and/or the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, can attend one of two listening sessions in April. Those sessions will be:

  • 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 24, Petersen Residence Hall Multi-Purpose Room
  • 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 25, Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa Theater, room 166

In addition, members of the campus community can attend one of four workshops titled BUILD: Making the Paradigm Shift from Diversity to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which will focus on tools, resources and strategies for integrating DEI into unit plans. More information about the workshops and registration for them can be found in Employee Self Service, click on “My Training” under the Learning and Development tab, then search for “paradigm.”