New priorities and initiatives are identified; progress continues on DEI Action Plan

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Results of the 2020 Campus Climate Survey show that, on average, University of Iowa faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars feel valued and satisfied with the university and within their respective departments and units. However, the level of value and satisfaction varied across different social identity groups.

For example, while 80% of respondents overall say they feel valued as individuals at Iowa, a lower percentage of multiracial (71%), underrepresented minority (URM) (78%), and Latinx (77%) respondents report feeling valued compared to white (83%) and Asian (89%) respondents. The biggest disparity was among gender groups, with a lower percentage of Trans/Gender/Non-Conforming (TGNC) respondents at 69%, compared to men (81%), and women (82%).

The 2020 Campus Climate Survey was distributed to 19,339 faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars in September and October 2020. The survey had a response rate of 38%, with 7,412 surveys completed, including:

  • 1,212 faculty (41% response rate)
  • 1,184 merit staff (26% response rate)
  • 4,013 professional and scientific staff (53% response rate)
  • 967 SEIU staff (24% response rate)
  • 36 postdoctoral scholars (16% response rate)
Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will not take this survey, but instead will be asked to complete the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey during the spring 2021semester.

Access the complete 2020 Campus Climate Survey data here.

In addition, the data show there is some disparity between those who find DEI efforts valuable and those who believe too much emphasis is placed on them and that they distract from the university’s academic mission.

Overall, 94% of respondents “somewhat” to “strongly agree” that achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion is personally important to them, while about 25% of respondents “strongly disagree” that attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion distracts the university from achieving its academic mission.

“These are significant challenges, not just at Iowa, but across the country,” says Liz Tovar, interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “The solutions for these issues require listening, followed by action. It takes time, and Iowa is approaching these issues to develop long-lasting culture change rather than short-term responses.”

Tovar says the data show a need for the university to continue to improve DEI and campus climate in these key areas:

  • Expanding institutional commitment and accountability for DEI;
  • Improving equity and inclusion in workplace practices, policies, and culture; and
  • Strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness and education.

Five new initiatives will be implemented in 2021 to address the areas of improvement. They include:

  • Increased engagement by the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community.
  • Mandatory DEI training for all senior-level administrators led by nationally renowned DEI consultant and Iowa alumna Nancy “Rusty” Barceló.
  • Naming two DEI faculty fellows who will spend the next year focusing on strategies to support faculty DEI on campus, with the work guided by the DEI strategic plan and the results of the recently completed campus climate survey. The DEI faculty fellows are Maurine Neiman, associate 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.
  • $500,000 from the Office of the Provost Investment Fund will be allocated to DEI initiatives in 2021. This funding will be invested in efforts to recognize, reward, and support research, service, and teaching efforts that contribute to DEI and to efforts that support the recruitment and retention of URM faculty and/or provide a pipeline for diversity within a college.
  • Diversity Catalyst Seed Grant funding is a new program that supports initiatives contributing to a DEI strategic goal to advance DEI at Iowa. Selected initiatives hold promising potential for an immediate, positive impact on the campus community. The three selected projects include translating the most popular collection guides from UI Special Collections and University Archives to Chinese; an inventory and description of the Louis Scarborough collection at UI Special Collections and University Archives; and the Student Legal Services Immigration Clinic, which will provide free legal advice on immigration issues to students.

“I want to thank everyone in our campus community who took the time to provide us with valuable feedback by completing the campus climate survey,” says Tovar. “The results clearly indicate that while Iowa is a great institution, we have work to do. Ensuring consistent and sustained improvement will require strategic effort by leadership across campus. I look forward to ongoing conversations with faculty, staff, and students to make sure their stories are told and their voices are heard.”

Improving equity and inclusion in workplace practices, policies, and culture in a consistent and sustained way began in 2019 with the implementation of the DEI Action Plan. Efforts connected to the action plan continue in meaningful ways, says Bria Marcelo, director of diversity resources and strategic initiatives in the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Of the 116 original items in the action plan, 80% are completed, ongoing, or in progress. Some of the work having the most long-term, overarching impact include:

  • An increased number of resources available to make campus and the working environment more inclusive and equitable;
  • Increased ownership of DEI efforts by colleges, departments, and units across campus;
  • Strengthened and coordinated communication between DEI groups and constituents, including newly formed collaborations with DEI leaders across all colleges and units;
  • Enhanced understanding of belonging on campus;
  • Reviewed policies/practices to ensure equity; and
  • Improved competence and commitment of UI leadership to advance DEI.

“There continues to be energy on campus to do this important work,” Marcelo says. “Significant progress has occurred in the two years since the action plan was created and could not have been achieved without the time and effort of so many individuals across campus. We are excited to carry this momentum into the coming year and beyond.”