Iowa Universities Work to Improve Inclusion on Campus

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The University of Iowa (UI) and Iowa State University (Iowa State) are working to provide an atmosphere of inclusive excellence to students, faculty, and staff via diversity initiatives and workshops.

University of Iowa

UI is offering a series of workshops to faculty and staff in an effort to help create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone on campus. The Building University of Iowa Leadership for Diversity (BUILD) program — a collaborative initiative developed by the Chief Diversity Office and the unit of UI Learning and Development last year — is aimed at empowering employees to contribute to the university’s vision of a welcoming and diverse campus. BUILD experienced high participation in its first year, with over 325 faculty and staff members taking at least one course, and administrators hope its success will continue this year.

“Knowing we should be better must be coupled with the confidence and skill to do better in order to truly create change,” Bria Marcelo, diversity resources director for the Chief Diversity Office, said in a statement. “In its inaugural year, BUILD formed quite a unique community — a community of members from all over campus who strived to learn more, do more, and be more inclusive.”

If participants attend the Beyond the Numbers: Foundation for Diversity and Inclusion core workshop and at least five elective, non-credit-bearing courses, they will earn a BUILD certificate demonstrating their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and classroom. Examples of electives include courses on the important contributions of African Americans to the university’s success, how to recognize and reduce unconscious bias, understanding the transgender student experience, and disability accommodation.

Iowa State University                 

Iowa State’s Division of Academic Affairs released a report this summer that assesses the progress made regarding diversity programs and initiatives at Iowa State, and while the university is proud of its accomplishments during the 2015-2016 academic year, more work needs to be done.

One such diversity program is the Inclusive Classroom initiative, established last year by the university as a faculty professional development program.

“I think this is a very important initiative because it gets back to that mission of teaching,” Iowa State Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert said in a statement.

Wickert said the school will offer workshops to its employees this school year that provide a framework on best practices for creating and fostering a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful environment within the classroom. The workshops, which consist of both online learning modules and face-to-face interactions, will be offered eight times during the 2016-2017 academic year, giving faculty more opportunities to participate.

The report also discusses key findings regarding diversity on campus, including the impact of the Bridging Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) initiative, the school’s learning community for students of color; it had a 100 percent first-year retention rate during the 2015-2016 school year.