CLAS announces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Launch for 2020-21

In an email to University of Iowa students, Interim Dean and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sara Sanders said that the liberal-arts school would offer several new initiatives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Alexandra Skores, Managing Editor

The University of Iowa’s largest college — the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will begin to offer new diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including requiring all college departments and units to develop annual work plans and audits.

According to an email to the liberal-arts school community, the college will offer a DEI Action Plan, a new DEI website, and a new theme year entitled, “A Historically White University: Pursuing Racial Justice at the University of Iowa.”

The DEI Action Plan is built upon strategic planning for CLAS and the UI’s DEI Action Plan. Included in the plan, the college stated it will commit to funding for college-wide racial and social justice initiatives, and create infrastructure for DEI Fellows program to support faculty engaged in departmental and campus-wide DEI efforts by Spring 2021.

The new DEI website will feature new resources and opportunities for community members to engage with the initiatives.

The CLAS theme year hopes to engage the UI’s history as a majority white institution and hold a series of events starting this fall during the academic year.

The announcement comes just a month after the replacement of former liberal-arts college dean, Steve Goddard. Goddard was investigated for violating Chapter III-16 of the UI operations manual, though did not specify which section was violated or the reason for the investigation.

As previously reported in The Daily Iowan, Goddard has received criticism from faculty following comments he made during a town hall meeting in June addressing COVID-19 questions and concerns.

During the meeting, an anonymous question from a faculty member who identified herself as a woman of color diagnosed with an autoimmune condition expressed concern about the mental and physical health effects of returning to teaching in the classroom. Goddard suggested she seek mental-health counseling.

“I would also encourage you to think about trying to manage that,” Goddard said in the forum. “As an underrepresented minority, as a woman of color, you have a tremendous impact in trying to overcome some of that anxiety and fear … to not participate in the community more fully would be an effect on you and the students.”

Rylee Wilson contributed to this report.