Low retention of faculty of color still persists


Maggie Curry/Iowa State Daily

Jackson’s daughter and widow pose with Vice President for Student Affairs Martino Harmon.

Peyton Spanbauer

As the daughter of the late George A. Jackson, the first director of Minority Student Affairs referred to as Multicultural Student Affairs, Toni Jackson-Lampley has seen a lot of change over the years on campus.

One thing she said has maintained is the lack of faculty of color within the university.

Her father, for whom the Black Cultural Center on Welch Avenue is named for, came to Iowa State to work in the Minority Student Office. After changing the name to the Office of Minority Student Affairs, Jackson set to work implementing the first programs to make diversity and inclusion an active part of Iowa State’s mission.

One of the lasting programs is the Multicultural Liaison Officers within each college. During his 31 year employment at Iowa State, while serving as a dean, Jackson succeeded in increasing diversity on campus through initiatives such as the Summer Enrichment Program and scholarships such as George Washington Carver scholarships for minority freshman.

First moving to Ames in 1978, Jackson-Lampley quickly realized that no one in her second grade classroom looked like her, a negative memory. She emphasized how important it is for children to see seeing themselves in their superiors.

“We have to create an environment that is conducive for students of color,” Jackson-Lampley said.

Jackson-Lampley, who recently completed a temporary position in the Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department, said administration has “gone to sleep” on efforts to build community and maintain diversity on campus. This, she believed, has led to low retention of faculty of color.

Similarly, results of a campus climate survey conducted in October of 2017 demonstrate the dissatisfaction of those employed by the university. Fifty-four percent of faculty survey respondents and 50 percent of staff respondents “had seriously considered leaving Iowa State University within the last year.”

Shaneda Destine found herself in that position in June 2018 when she decided to leave Iowa State, after spending just under a year as a lecturer in the sociology department on campus.

As a newly minted Ph.D graduate., Destine and her wife moved to Ames from Washington D.C. in the fall of 2017 after her wife was offered a position in Parks Library. Part of her wife’s contract agreement included a part-time position for Destine at the university as well.

“We went [across the country] to Iowa with our priority being to stay together,” Destine said. “We had no idea what we were up against.”

Positioned in the sociology department and teaching classes within the African American and women and gender studies programs, Destine was ultimately unhappy with being split between the two departments.

Destine recalled various incidents throughout her short career at Iowa State where she felt people tried to make her and her wife feel unwelcome.

“It was hard to find community and support,” Destine said.

The last straw for Destine came after speaking with administration about opportunities for advancement within her desired department. When she was ultimately told by administration that it was “out of their capabilities” to help her advance to a full-time position, Destine knew it was not due to her lack of qualifications.

Now an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Destine said she hoped Iowa State can “put its money where its mouth is” and apply more aid to programs to support faculty of color.

While reflecting that she did find a community of people of color while in Ames, she acknowledges that more can be done to build a community for people on campus.

“These are real families — people that want to thrive in their careers,” Destine said.

Michael Bugeja, former director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and current professor in the Greenlee school, said during his time as director, it became his mission to make campus climate a priority.

In doing so, Bugeja was appointed chair of the first Diversity Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2004.

“The faculty and staff were supportive, and that led to [the Greenlee School’s] winning the 2014 National Diversity Award, bestowed by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication — the highest such honor in our discipline,” Bugeja said of his efforts.

In 2017, Bugeja was again awarded for his efforts, this time with the Iowa State Liberal Arts and Sciences Diversity Award.

By remaining committed to diversity, inclusion and equity, Bugeja said he was able to implement impactful programs to create change in the college’s climate.

“An institution can be diverse but lack inclusion. It can be diverse and inclusive, but lack equitable policies or the enforcement thereof,” Bugeja said. “In sum, if a university lacks any of those three essential components, retention will suffer.”

Bugeja recommended each college on campus to commit to their own “stand-alone” diversity plan with specific commitments to inclusion and equity. He also encouraged all present and future diversity plans to be assessed annually, with detailed reports posted to each college’s website.

“Having these policies — and very few departments on campus have all three — may appear at first blush like window dressing,” Bugeja said. “But as soon as you create these policies, administrators and faculties can be held to them publicly.”

To a similar effect, Jackson-Lampley wants the Iowa State community to set goals and develop data to analyze how Iowa State is doing as a whole.

“On all levels, multicultural or not, we need to step into each other’s shoes and walk around for a while,” Jackson-Lampley said.