Sharon Fantini takes the reigns of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Image courtesy of Angie Hunt

Sharon Perry Fantini is Iowa State’s newest Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, beginning her time at Iowa State on Jan. 18.

Jack Mcclellan

Iowa State’s newest Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Sharon Perry Fantini recently filled the position at Iowa State.

Fantini started at Iowa State at the beginning of the spring semester, after two separate interim Vice Presidents held the position down over the fall semester. The process of finding a permanent Vice President began in August 2021 after Reginald Chhen Stewart left for Chapman University in California.

“This is my 12th week at Iowa State, and I absolutely adore it. I like the people, I like the passion, I like that they believe in this institution and they really care about the students,” Fantini said. “And they care about each other, and it’s not lip service, you can feel the passion.”

Margo Foreman held the interim position for several months at the beginning of the fall semester before leaving for a similar position at Clark University in Massachusetts. Replacing Foreman was Charles Small, who is still at Iowa State working as the senior athletics director.

Such an irregular semester of leadership left Fantini with the task of picking up the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and getting it moving again. Fantini decided she wanted to make sure she was on campus and working when the spring semester began to be able to provide students with the support they needed.

“January 18 is when I started, and it was critical for me to be here for the start of classes,” Fantini said. “I wanted to be here when the students get here so that I could work with the students as opposed to the students coming back and then here I come two weeks later. I needed to be here for the beginning of that particular semester.”

Fantini came to Iowa State from Tiffin University in Ohio, which is a much smaller private school. According to Fantini, switching to a much larger public school like Iowa State has posed few challenges, even considering the difference in size.

“I have not experienced anything as far as “red tape.” What I have experienced is passion and at both institutions, in all the institutions, a lot of passion for this type of work,”

Fantini continued to deliver a quote from Dr. Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

“And that’s DEI. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many different people, just to make sure that we have a better world than we had yesterday,” Fantini said.

For the foreseeable future, Fantini will guide the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through the process of keeping Iowa State’s campus inclusive and open to all sorts of people. Fantini will continue to be present on campus and shape the fabric of the Iowa State community.

“So the vision that I see, or the future that I see in this particular area, is to cultivate an environment that is welcoming and affirming for all,” Fantini said. “And again, by fostering collaborative relationships, we can’t do this in a silo. This is university-wide to make sure that we are aligned with institutional priorities and fostering an inclusive campus climate where every member of the community can succeed.”