Joseph Ballard II is the inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the campus life unit in the student affairs division. Ballard began in the position last November, working from his Twin Cities home during the pandemic, and arrived on campus July 1.
Campus life integrates the work of approximately 450 full-time staff and several thousand student employees in the residence department, ISU Dining and the Memorial Union. Former senior vice president for student affairs Martino Harmon established the unit before he left the university last summer.
Associate vice president for campus life and director of residence Pete Englin, who created the position, said Ballard is a uniter and a connector.
"Providing a welcoming, caring and supportive experience for every student is critical to building a great Cyclone community," Englin, said. But students' personal stories, combined with analysis of student surveys, have made it plain there's work to do, he added.
"Joseph needs to prepare 450 staff members to deliver a better experience to students. His job is to help all of us be better equipped and more aware to better serve our students who arrive at Iowa State with so many different life experiences," Englin said.
Ballard said the big-picture goal is create an environment "where all staff and students, regardless of their identities, feel safe, valued, appreciated, heard and respected and that they have a voice within campus life.
"It's going to take time. In order to make the difference and impact that's desired, we have to be fully committed, invested, intentional, thoughtful, persistent, resilient and also patient. I'm committed to it, and I know I have the support I need here to do it. One of the exciting parts for me is to know the support and commitment is there," Ballard said.
Relying on conversations with more than 200 faculty and staff since last fall and a short spring survey of about 200 campus life staff, students and student employees "to learn where we're at," Ballard identified five areas he'll focus on:
- Access, holistic success, retention and graduation for students, no matter their life journey to Iowa State or their identities.
- A staff experience that fosters community and minimizes barriers to satisfaction and advancement.
- A comprehensive training and education program that propels campus life as an innovator in DEI and helps achieve the campus culture we aspire to have.
- Deep evaluation of campus life's procedures, policies and practices for better inclusivity
- A campus climate that advances recruitment and retention of both students and employees.
When the academic year begins, Ballard said he'll collect more data through more conversations with constituents in campus life, and partners and collaborators throughout the university and Ames communities. The intent, he said, is to create sustainable partnerships and collaborations with others in student affairs, academic affairs, the office of the vice president for DEI and the greater Ames community. When it's named, a campus life DEI advisory council will help guide the vision and direction of the work.
Ballard comes to Iowa State from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he served for three years as program director for student diversity in one of its eight undergraduate colleges. Previously, he led DEI initiatives in multiple roles at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He had an inaugural role in many of them, so the challenge of building direction for a role is familiar but exciting, he said.
Ballard earned a bachelor’s degree (2010) in marketing and management from Oklahoma State and a master's degree (2012) in adult and higher education administration, with a dual emphasis in student affairs and social justice, from the University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Ballard's primary office is in 3522 Friley, and he also will have an office in the Memorial Union. He can be reached at 294-1627; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.