Nora Ryan joins Office of Equal Opportunity


Abigail Schafer/Iowa State Daily

Nora Ryan has recently been hired to work for Iowa State’s Office of Equal Opportunity. The Office of Equal Opportunity is now located in 3410 Beardshear Hall.

Jacey Goetzman

Nora Ryan, within her first few weeks as the inclusion services coordinator for the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), wants students to know one thing: Her door is always open.

Even better, she’s “the crazy, loud lady who always has chocolate and apples in her office,” as Ryan said.

Ryan is an alumna from Iowa State. In 2009, she received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and in 2011 she earned her master’s in public administration. From there, she worked for a few years before finding herself at The George Washington University, where she obtained her doctorate in public administration in 2017.

It didn’t take Ryan long to find herself back at Iowa State.

“There were a lot of reasons that drove us back to Iowa,” Ryan said. “Reflecting on my Iowa State experience, and remembering what the institution stood for and where it was going, it was really a no-brainer.”

Now, in her position as the inclusion services coordinator at OEO, Ryan is finding herself tasked by a number of things. The position makes her responsible for assuring the compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other federal and state laws as well as regulations that pertain to people with disabilities.

Before she begins on those tasks, Ryan wants to get her feet on the ground for the current campus climate.

“We’re not perfect. We can do better, and we are doing better,” Ryan said.

Ryan ultimately wants for nobody to experience discrimination at Iowa State University. While she admits that is a lofty goal, she has hopes that she can ensure that people understand that when they step on or off campus, behavior of harassment or discrimination is unacceptable and will have consequences.

“We are never going to eradicate everything, but we are going to make sure that not only is it unacceptable, but that victims and witnesses understand that this office is here to help them,” Ryan said. “We see them, we hear them, and that’s why we’re here.”

Margo Foreman, director of the Equal Opportunity Office, echoed the sentiment and excitement about bringing Ryan aboard the Office of Equal Opportunity’s team.

“We’re all responsible for the campus climate,” Foreman said. “We’re […] really excited about having [Nora here] to help us.”

Foreman added that some of the forefronts of changing the campus climate will be reconstituting the disabilities’ committee and bringing them back together — a first in nearly three or four years — to talk about the priorities for folks with different abilities on campus.

Additionally, the office hopes to add some finishing touches to the religious accommodation policy as well as develop a website for all things related to the campus climate.

Despite what could be called skyscraping goals, Ryan is excited at beginning within a position that allows her to do what she loves.

“I get to serve as an advocate while working for the university,” Ryan said, “really trying to make sure that the institution is welcoming, inclusive [and] diverse for people of all abilities and all identities.”