Diversity and inclusion report looks at improvements over past year


Jonathan Wickert, Senior Vice President and Provost, speaks about Pat Miller, director of the Lectures Program, during the 60th anniversary celebration of the Lectures Program in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Aug. 30.

Mary Pautsch

According to last year’s diversity and inclusion report, students and faculty may be seeing changes to course options, the lectures program, and Parks Library.

The 2016-17 diversity and inclusion report put out by Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost, contained information on efforts put on by colleges and organizations.

“The goal in doing the report is to help prompt conversations about improving diversity and inclusion on campus,” said Wickert. “It’s a chance to say, ‘Let’s take a closer look,’ and find out what we need to improve on and what we’re doing right.”

One section reported on a new Diversity Course Development Initiative.

In the spring semester of 2017, the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost contacted all faculty of Iowa State to submit proposals on new classes that fit the U.S. diversity requirement for all students.

The proposals were to be based around diversity topics that reflect on current issues in the country. Seven were then selected to receive funding of $50,000 total for either a redesign of a current class or to create a brand new course.

“Each proposal has a budget, and that may be used to, for example, hire graduate assistants, or be used towards a faculty member’s salary as they worked over the summer for these courses,” Wickert said.

The plan was implemented due to student feedback the provost’s office had been given the previous year. As a result, the student body may be seeing the seven new course options as soon as spring or fall of 2018.

Wickert said that this initiative is something he would like to see become a regular system. Status reports will be given once classes are offered this year, and depending on how they look, the idea may take off.

The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost also has had feedback from the University Lectures Program. The diversity and inclusion report talked about the many speakers who spoke on topics related to diversity, such as Gloria Steinem and Leslie Odom, Jr.

“The lectures program sets as a priority finding diverse people who speak on diverse issues and a variety of topics,” said Wickert.

According to Wickert, this is going to be a continued effort for the 2017-18 school year as well. He himself is excited about some of the upcoming lectures, including Tim Wise, an author who has written six books on racism.

“He’s such an influential speaker,” Wickert said. “Actually, we’re moving his lecture to CY Stephens because we know the Great Hall will not be enough.”

There are plans to make a more diverse environment in the university library as well. Parks Library had been starting up sustainable diversity and inclusion initiatives over the past year. 

The initiatives have three main goals they plan to reach. They include outreach and engagement, staff development and retention, and recruitment and hiring. The library wants to diversify the librarianship career, and share the benefits of having a diverse staff.

“I see it already,” said Wickert. “I’ve had the ability to meet the new faculty, and they already seem like wonderful, knowledgeable people to bring into our library.”

Wickert said that the university library is a perfect example of a space on campus where inclusion efforts are most important.

“It’s important to have these initiatives because libraries can provoke a diversity of thought as well,” Wickert said.

The report also included individual diversity and inclusion efforts from individual organizations and colleges at Iowa State. Each college had initiatives or ongoing efforts in place that catered to their diverse students. 

“The activity is really in every college,” Wickert said. “Human sciences, engineering, agriculture and life sciences, LAS… It’s a shared effort across the entire division.”

Wickert said that he hopes the diversity and inclusion report will lead to conversations from all parts of the university to improve Iowa State as a whole.