University of Iowa to launch another search for associate VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

After TaJuan Wilson resigned from the associate VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position less than two months after beginning in June 2019, the UI announced it will start the search again.


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FILE – The Old Capitol is shown on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

The University of Iowa provost on Wednesday shared the institution will begin searching for another associate vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion later this spring — filling a position that has remained vacant since TaJuan Wilson’s resignation in August 2019 less than two months into the job.

UI Provost Montserrat Fuentes told The Daily Iowan that the university will begin the search in April using firm Isaacson, Miller. She added the UI will hold forums across campus to provide opportunities for feedback.

Asked whether the person who fills the role next would report to the president or the provost, Fuentes said, “I think part of the engagement at that point when we start getting feedback from the campus community will determine exactly how we shape that position as we move forward.”

RELATED: UI unveils Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion action plan

The position, previously titled chief diversity officer, reported to the university president for some time — as recently as 2017 when Georgina Dodge filled the role. Wilson was reporting to the provost during his stint in the position.

Since Wilson’s resignation, the three unit officers for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have reported to the provost.

UI President Bruce Harreld told the DI in September 2019 that the university embraced this structure in part because it allowed for the UI to advance components of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan pertaining to faculty.

“… We have a provost who is really interested in these and wants to take action, and secondly the [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] Action Plan itself has a set of faculty training and a promotional set of issues embedded within it that are very faculty-related, so for that reason we put it to the Provost’s Office,” he said.

Harreld said in the interview he told Fuentes that the next year to 18 months of work on the plan should remain focused on addressing the faculty issues reported in the 2018 campus-climate survey.

“That’s where we need to focus, and I think a year from now or 18 months from now we can change reporting depending on where it needs to be,” he said.

RELATED: Resigned UI diversity administrator ‘telecommuting’ into work

The search to find a new person advance campus diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts will come around one year after the UI hosted open forums with candidates in the spring of 2019. The university selected Wilson to fill the role in April 2019 and he started at the end of June, resigning weeks later in August.

In a separation agreement, Wilson was permitted to hunt for jobs during work hours while serving in a different position as special assistant to the vice president for External Relations and retained his annual salary of $224,000.

Per his agreement, he will “voluntarily resign” from his employment with the UI no later than Jan. 31. He is still listed in the UI directory as being on special assignment.

Wilson was provided $25,000 for moving expenses in the contract he signed April 11, 2019, which the document said he would have to repay in full if he left within the first year of employment, but the UI waived that requirement as part of his separation agreement.

He also was permitted to use up to $7,500 for professional development and conferences while a UI employee, according to the separation agreement — half of the $15,000 provided to him for such purposes in his initial employment offer.