President Leath announces comprehensive diversity audit

Over the next several months, Iowa State will conduct a university-wide diversity asset inventory and audit. President Steven Leath announced the project earlier this month in a memo to university leaders.

The inventory phase is just that -- taking stock of the university's current diversity programs and initiatives. The audit phase will examine Iowa State's diversity strengths and weaknesses, creating a road map for the future.

Leath said the project will help Iowa State better understand its existing diversity assets and more efficiently align those resources so the university can effectively support and promote diversity on campus and throughout the Ames community.

“Iowa State University is as diverse as it has ever been, but we have a responsibility to build upon past successes and ensure that we strive every day to create an environment that is as welcoming as possible to all people -- regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation,” Leath said in the memo.

Iowa State produces diversity annual reports, but this upcoming audit is the most comprehensive diversity study in the university's history, according to Miles Lackey, associate vice president and chief of staff.

"The university is not only doing what's right, but we're doing it the right way," Lackey said.

Consultant help

Jerlando Jackson, founder of The Jackson Consulting Firm, Madison, Wis., and Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will lead the inventory and audit. Jackson received a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Iowa State (2000), and offered to donate his services.

Jackson and his team will use document analysis, secondary data analysis, individual interviews and focus groups with undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, community representatives and others to gather data about diversity at Iowa State.  Several topics will be explored throughout the information-gathering phase, including organizational culture and climate, diversity objectives, strategic planning, faculty and staff recruitment and retention, and hiring practices, to name a few.


Assembling the diversity inventory will begin March 25 and conclude in late April. The diversity audit will begin in late April and conclude in late May. A final report with recommendations will be submitted to Leath in July.