Liz Tovar to assume permanent role as executive officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion

After the UI ended the search for a diversity, equity, and inclusion executive in October, Tovar will assume the role on Feb. 1 and report to the president instead of the provost.


Ayrton Breckenridge

University of Iowa Interim Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Liz Tovar, poses for a portrait on Oct. 7.

Rachel Schilke, News Editor

Liz Tovar will assume the role of executive officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion, with University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld calling her the “right leader to move us forward.”

Tovar is currently interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the move will make her position permanen, and she will begin reporting directly to the president as part of the president’s cabinet. The university’s diversity, equity and inclusion leader reported directly to the president until the summer of 2018, when the position changed to report to the provost.

Tovar will begin her new role on Feb. 1 with a salary of $250,000, according to a release from Iowa Now. The appointment still needs approval from the Iowa state Board of Regents.

“Iowa needs consistent and principled leadership in order to create a more just and inclusive campus,” Harreld said in the release. “Over the past six months, Dr. Tovar has proven she is the right leader to move us forward, and doing another search will not yield someone more capable or dedicated.”

In her new position, she will oversee the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion while continuing to serve as associate athletics director and as a member of the UI Athletic senior management team.

“I am honored to lead and be a part of such important work and important change on our campus,” Tovar said in the release. “I look forward to continuing to break down silos and to build relationships across the entire university.”

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Tovar was named an interim lead of the three-unit division in July and interim director in August after Tajuan Wilson stepped down in August 2019 after six weeks in the position.

The UI ended the search for associate vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion in October after candidates withdrew when hearing of Harreld’s intent to retire. During the search process, many campus community members had expressed that the next director should report to the president rather than the provost.

However, Harreld wrote in a message to the campus before Tovar’s appointment to the interim position that the search committee would not change the reporting structure as they did not want to delay the search any longer. He said changing the reporting structure would require a new search.

Tovar told the Faculty Senate in a Sept. 1 meeting that the new reporting structure to the provost rather than the president had likely been a drawback to attracting candidates to the position, according to the meeting minutes.

Harreld recommended in December after announcing his retirement on Oct. 1 that he thinks the next associate vice president of the three-unit division should report to the president, but that it is ultimately his successor’s decision.

UI interim executive vice president and provost Kevin Kregel said in the Iowa Now release he was proud of Tovar’s appointment to her new position.

“I could not be more pleased that Dr. Tovar has agreed to fill this role and that our entire university community will continue to benefit from the stability and leadership she provides,” Kregel said in the release. “She has a clear vision for positive change founded on cross-campus collaboration, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to implement that vision.”

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