Katina Zentz for The Daily Iowan
The University of Iowa will not make any changes in reporting structure for the position of associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, in an effort to continue its search to fill the position without inhibition, according to a Thursday release.
In a release Thursday morning, UI President Bruce Harreld said he met with the co-chairs of the search committee for a new associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that they mutually decided the UI must continue its search for a permanent leader in this position.
“The University of Iowa is at the forefront of many endeavors, and it is our responsibility to lead by example,” Harreld said in the release. “That includes taking a leadership role in addressing the critical social and cultural dialogue of our generation — no matter how difficult, daunting, or uncomfortable such work may seem.”
The UI began employing a search firm in April to find a replacement for TaJuan Wilson, who held the position of associate vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion for less than two months before resigning in August 2019, the DI previously reported.
Co-chairs of the search committee to fill the vacant position, Russell Ganim and Tiffini Stevenson Earl, said in a campus-wide message Thursday that the associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion currently reports to the provost, with a seat on the president’s cabinet.
Harreld told the DI in September 2019 that the UI embraced this reporting structure because if the associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion reports to the provost it can better advance parts of the campus Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan that pertain to faculty.
As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the UI announced on July 16 that former UI Provost Montserrat Fuentes would step down from her position and serve as “special assistant” to the president.
Executive Vice Provost and Senior Associate Provost for Faculty Kevin Kregel was appointed as interim provost following Fuentes’ resignation, and he will occupy that role for two years. His salary was also increased to $439,000.
The search committee for a new diversity, equity, and inclusion leader has considered changing the position so it reports directly to the president instead of the provost, the co-chairs said in the release.
Because this change would require them to rewrite the job description and restart their search, however, the co-chairs said it was decided against so as to avoid further delay in filling the position.
“We are very encouraged by the existing pool of candidates and in return their interest in the university,” the release stated. “ … We are pleased to report that the university will be moving forward quickly with the naming of an interim AVP for DEI.”
Harreld said in his release that his intentions for an interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion are that the person be appointed within the next two weeks and commit 100 percent of their time to leading campus efforts.
He acknowledged a history of racial injustice at the UI, and that addressing individual roles in perpetuating the institutional barriers it created against underrepresented students, faculty, and staff starts with the president.
“As members of an institution of higher learning, we seek the truth,” Harreld said. “And if the truth is that we are responsible for injustice, we must work to correct it. Further, in order to address our own deficiencies, we must work collaboratively and hear from as many Hawkeyes as possible in order to create a more just and exemplary university now and in perpetuity.”