Thursday, July 23, 2020

The University of Iowa is at the forefront of many endeavors, and it is our responsibility to lead by example. That includes taking a leadership role in addressing the critical social and cultural dialog of our generation—no matter how difficult, daunting, or uncomfortable such work may seem.

Bruce Harreld

This university’s success is based on collaboration and input from all corners of campus, and over the past week I have had the opportunity to engage with the search committee for the associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (AVP for DEI). What was made clear is that we must move forward with our search for a permanent AVP for DEI, and any change in this position reporting to the president instead of the provost would require us to restart the search.

This type of delay was not acceptable to the members of our community on the search committee, and I agree with them. As such we will continue forward with a job description that has the AVP for DEI reporting to the provost while also serving on the president’s cabinet. In the meantime, the university will appoint an interim AVP for DEI in order to have someone commit 100% of their time to leading our campus efforts. My intention is for this appointment to be made within the next two weeks after conversations with members of search committee, shared governance, and our campus community. Individuals who have suggestions for the interim AVP for DEI should send them to the search committee chairs, Tiffini Stevenson Earl ( and Russ Ganim (

These are small steps, but important ones.

We must move forward with a focus on creating a better future. The history of racial injustice at our university is complicated and replete with failures that we must acknowledge and for which we must take responsibility. And the unfair hurdles that continue to exist for our students, faculty, and staff from underrepresented communities are numerous. We all must recognize and address our individual role in perpetuating these institutional barriers—and as the president of the University of Iowa, I know that starts with me.

We cannot change our history, but we can recognize and take responsibility for it. And we can change both our present and future in a deliberate fashion that will forever reshape our community. This permanent change will be created through listening, dialogue, and action taken hand in hand—day after day, year after year.

As members of an institution of higher learning, we seek the truth. And if the truth is that we are responsible for injustice, we must work to correct it. Further, in order to address our own deficiencies, we must work collaboratively and hear from as many Hawkeyes as possible in order to create a more just and exemplary university now and in perpetuity.

That is the way forward, and I have full confidence in our ability to take action, right wrongs, and create a better world starting right here at home.