After 10 years of waiting, UI Center for Diversity & Enrichment nears move-in to new office space

The Center for Diversity & Enrichment programs have been spread out across campus in varying buildings. Before the upcoming fall semester, they be in University Capitol Center above CVS in a newly renovated space.


Tate Hildyard

Carlos Nelson and Nadine Petty give a guided tour through the developing Center for Diversity and Enrichment in the Old Capitol Mall on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

Since 2008, there have been conversations about moving the University of Iowa’s Center for Diversity & Enrichment offices under one roof. More than 10 years later, a plan is in motion to make the move happen.

By the beginning of fall semester, Diversity & Enrichment and its units — Campus Outreach Services, Military and Veteran Student Services, TRIO Student Support Services, and TRIO Upward Bound —  will be under one roof at University Capitol Center, Executive Director Nadine Petty said.

The $3.9 million project will also house the new Student Services Center, a “one-stop shop” for student needs, UI media relations Director Anne Bassett said.

“[The center] will consolidate student-centric services such as billing, transcripts, and verification, and ID cards that are currently located in several campus locations,” Bassett said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

The main floor consists of mostly student-use spaces, located above CVS in the University Capitol Center. There is a common area, computers, a kitchen, and large windows that overlook the Seamans Center, an aspect academic coach Carlos Nelson loves, he said.

His office, along with the other academic coaches, will be on the main level.

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“I am one of the newest team members starting in January. I am coming into a new, expanding, and fruitful situation,” Nelson said. “I am super excited to see how this is going to affect our students in the long run.”

Upstairs will house TRIO Upward Bound, TRIO Student Support Services, Military and Veteran Student Services, and Diversity Resources. There is a large conference room for all of the center, something that was lacking before, Petty said.

Part of the center has been housed in Phillips Hall, and its programs scattered across buildings on campus. This made it difficult for staff collaboration and student accessibility, Petty said. Officials hope the move will increase a sense of community among staff and students.

“It feels refreshing, and it also feels as if the university is taking [Diversity, equity, and inclusion] seriously on campus,” Petty said. “It sends a positive message to have a space focused on support for marginalized individuals with varying identities. I feel encouraged.”

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On numerous occasions, Nelson and Petty reiterated the necessity to have Military and Veteran Student Services in the same space. Petty said providing a community for them is more than necessary. Having two Military and Veteran Student Services staff members, Diversity & Enrichment is prepared assist when they are out for any reason.

“Being a military veteran myself and a first-generation, having everything under one roof will be so beneficial for students to cross paths and get to learn about each other,” Nelson said. “Military is a culture.”

Two years since first seeing the blueprints, Petty said, she cannot believe it’s almost time to move in. She has been involved in the entire process. From conceptualizing the space to choosing carpet swatches, she has been at the forefront, she said.

The design was done with physical disabilities in mind, including proper counter heights for individuals in wheelchairs. The whole space was ADA-approved, Petty said.

“I’m excited to see how it will serve students,” she said. “Every bit of this is intentional.”