New website will link users to inclusion info

Several of Iowa State's colleges, units and departments offer inclusion and diversity resources for faculty, staff and students. But quickly accessing that information has been a challenge. That's all about to change.

The office of diversity and inclusion recognized the need for a one-stop, online hub to corral Iowa State's numerous inclusion resources. So, Nicci Port, a project director in the office, is leading the development of a university website, Inclusion@IowaState, to serve as a clearinghouse of inclusion information, connecting and directing both internal and external audiences to Iowa State's inclusion groups, initiatives and activities.

"Inclusion@IowaState is an opportunity to bring information together to better serve the university," Port said. "There had been no central resource for diversity and inclusion efforts at ISU before this."

The project supports Goal 4 of Iowa State's strategic plan -- to enhance the university climate for both the ISU community and visitors.

"Inclusion@IowaState is being built to showcase how the community is realizing Goal 4, and it will help answer the question of what the university is doing to enhance and cultivate the ISU experience for students, staff, faculty and visitors," Port said.

Phase one, help wanted

The site is live, but it's still a work in progress. The first of three phases wrapped up last month with some initial page development, including inclusion information from Iowa State's office of diversity and inclusion as well as the divisions of academic affairs, student affairs and university services.

A unique feature of this project is the opportunity for university employees with interests and skills in web development, information technology, program management and web accessibility to volunteer for the site's development team. Port will review application submissions and create a team to assist her with the site's final two phases. Those interested in nominating themselves or someone else for the web development team should visit Inclusion@IowaState and select "Join/nominate to the development team" in the right column.

Phase two

The largest project of phase two, which runs now through May, is mapping the university's inclusion "ecosystem." Port will work her way through the university's organizational chart, surveying leaders of campus units to determine who is responsible for inclusion activities in their areas and what those activities are.

Phase two also will include development of an input form for the online inclusion inventory. Members of the campus community would use it to submit information about inclusion endeavors on campus. As the list is developed, Port's web development team will construct a searchable inventory that will detail Iowa State's inclusion activities.  

The third major component of phase two involves partnering with University Library staff, who will help Port envision a digital repository of inclusion information, similar to the library's existing repository.

Phase three

Phase three will commence in May. Projects scheduled are a user interface for the inclusion inventory, the final digital repository and a visual representation of the inclusion ecosystem. An official website launch is slated for August, though the site will remain live while it's being developed, an intentional decision by Port.

"I want to get community input during development," she said. "That's the reason behind making it visible to the public as it evolves."

Once the site is fully up and running next fall, anyone will be able to search and locate information about Iowa State's inclusion initiatives, a step in the right direction, according to Port.

"This site will put our best foot forward," she said. "It will give users a more complete view of the inclusion landscape at ISU, provide everyone on campus the chance to contribute to that view, make it easier to recognize people for the efforts they make around diversity and inclusion topics, and uncover opportunities for improving how the campus community can realize Goal 4 of the strategic plan.

"There is so much room for growth, and with the engagement of the campus community, we are excited about the possibilities," Port said.