Regents discuss, approve diversity recommendations

Recommendations from the state Board of Regents' diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) study group were approved after vigorous discussion at the board's Nov. 16 meeting in Cedar Falls.

Study group members (regents David Barker, Jim Lindenmayer and Greta Rouse) presented their report and recommendations, noting Iowa's public university campuses are welcoming places committed to equal opportunity and have a long history of accepting all qualified students.

Discussion centered on the group's 10 recommendations, including whether all are needed, a few might contradict each other, and how students benefit from DEI programs, among other topics. Their discussion distinguished between activities required for compliance and accreditation and others that support a welcoming campus, and noted challenges to achieving intellectual and philosophical diversity among faculty and staff job applicants. A recording of the two-hour discussion is available on the board's YouTube channel.

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The 65-page document consists of an 18-page report and 47 pages of attachments. The study group's 10 recommendations are listed on page 18; pages 1-17 provide background information and the analysis behind their recommendations.

Ultimately, the board approved all 10 recommendations, though no vote was unanimous. Recommendations 3-7 and 10 were approved in a single motion; the remaining four recommendations passed individually following additional discussion. The board amended recommendation 9 to ask the regent universities to explore, rather than develop "a proposal for a widespread initiative that includes opportunities for education and research on free speech and civic education."

Next steps

Board president Michael Richards, who appointed the study group last March, said its work is complete. He directed the regent institutions to provide reports on how they are complying with the recommendations, with implementation timelines, for the April meeting, which will be held in Ames.

As senior leaders outlined in a Nov. 7 email to the university community, they will form and work with an internal advisory group and gather input for Iowa State's response. In the meantime, ISU leaders wrote, the focus will remain on "the educational success of all students and providing a welcoming environment for all members of the ISU community."