President Wendy Wintersteen wants Iowa State to be the nation's most welcoming and inclusive land-grant institution -- a goal she emphasized again in her Sept. 11 State of the University address. It's something she's asking senior leaders to help keep front and center.
"This is a goal that I talk about with different groups every week," she said last month. "This is an important priority and one that we have to stay focused on."
A campus climate survey conducted in fall 2017 provided a baseline of personal perceptions and experiences related to living, working and learning at Iowa State. When the results were shared in spring 2018, Wintersteen appointed four work groups to further study the data and develop action items. The teams and their chairs are:
- Undergraduate students (Martino Harmon, senior vice president for student affairs)
- Graduate and post-doc students (Bill Graves, Graduate College dean)
- Faculty (Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost)
- Merit and professional and scientific staff (Reg Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion)
The teams submitted their reports to the president last spring, with recommendations for new initiatives and enhancements to current programs. In a recent memo to senior leaders, Wintersteen identified five priorities with broad campus impact that will move forward with the continued help of the work group chairs to oversee implementation. They are:
- Providing consistent information and training on diversity, inclusion and equity for new student onboarding
- Developing a civility campaign rooted in ISU's Principles of Community
- Creating a task force to improve access to high-quality, affordable child care
- Improving professional and leadership development opportunities
- Providing graduate students with additional information, support and services
Ideas in motion
Work is underway. Diana Sloan, program director for Hispanic and Latino affairs in the diversity and inclusion office, already is laying the groundwork for the civility campaign. The child care task force, co-chaired by interim vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr, associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince and Graduate College associate dean Carolyn Cutrona, will convene its first meeting this month.
But campus efforts aren't limited to the broad-based priorities outlined by the president. New programs and enhancements to existing initiatives address other issues identified in the campus climate survey results. Examples include a partnership with the city of Ames that created collaborative groups and a symposium on building inclusive organizations, a new faculty fellow post for diversity and inclusion, and central lab space that provides assistive technology resources to students with disabilities.
"It's important that we keep moving forward to address concerns we learned from the campus climate survey, and what we continue to learn from ongoing conversations," Stewart said. "President Wintersteen recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are core components of the continuous improvement cycle. We have to take two steps forward every day and do our best to avoid backward steps along the way.”