Leath receives diversity report, recommendations

Provide incentives for colleges and units to increase diversity. Create a chief diversity officer position. Work to improve the social climate for diverse groups.

These are some of the recommendations from The Jackson Consulting Firm, the consulting group that has been reviewing Iowa State's diversity programs and resources over the past year.  They're included in the firm's final report, submitted recently to President Steven Leath.

Jerlando Jackson, founder of The Jackson Consulting Firm and distinguished professor of higher education at University of Wisconsin, Madison, is an ISU alumnus and donated his services to conduct the review and develop the final report.

The study (see online PDF) includes results of interviews, focus groups and surveys and compares diversity attributes among land-grant and Big 12 universities.

Status of women report

A report on the status of women at ISU also is under review by the president.

Leath said he will thoroughly read and consider both the diversity report and another recently released report -- the "Status of Women at Iowa State University, 2014." Additionally, the president will appoint a working group, with representatives from each division, to study both reports, consider the recommendations and come up with a plan for implementation within the coming months.

Updates on the working group and implementation timeline will be posted on the Diversity Audit website as information becomes available.

"I appreciate the hard work of Jerlando Jackson and the University Committee on Women subcommittee," Leath said. "We'll make good use of these reports as we work to strengthen the diversity and welcoming character of this university."

Good practices

The report notes several "current practices of excellence" on campus. These include:

  • Aligning groups based on affinity. Recent institutional support for forming employee groups based on affinity characteristics has been transformational for participants, the report said.
  • Institutional emphasis on recruitment. The report notes that the institutional infrastructure in place for attracting diverse candidates -- students and employees -- appears robust and effective.
  • Conducive climate. Participants from target groups perceive that the campus climate is supportive of various forms of diversity and difference.
  • Strong town-gown. Community and city representatives expressed strong support for working with ISU to improve experiences for diverse groups.


Jackson offers these recommendations:

  1. Support groups in diversity-related endeavors. Provide resources and experts to help individual groups and organizations implement effective diversity agendas.
  2. Be transparent in moving diversity efforts forward. Hold regular listening sessions, invite suggestions and include student leaders in planning.
  3. Provide incentives for colleges and units to increase diversity among students and employees. Offer resources for targeted hires.  Promote a diversity-related award structure. Establish a visiting scholars and administrators program to expose diverse candidates to Iowa State.
  4. Conduct an institution-wide policy review to sharpen commitment to diversity. Assess current policies for relevance.
  5. Assess and meet the social needs of diverse groups on campus. Collect data on the groups' social needs. Collaborate with the community to cultivate businesses and organizations that can address these needs.
  6. Focus equally on retention and promotion of diverse groups. Consider partnerships with such institutions as historically black colleges or women's colleges. Consider using learning communities to foster adjustment. Increase support for employee mentoring, pay increases and spousal and partner benefits.
  7. Invest in a chief diversity officer or chief inclusion officer. Consider including the officer on the president's cabinet.
  8. Ensure that central administration reflects diversity expected in the campus population.  Include the voice of diverse groups in future hires of senior administrators.  Explore options, such as external boards and special advisers, that allow diverse groups to be heard by the president.