Andre Perry looks ahead to a promising future with DEI

The Englert Theatre’s Andre Perry will soon transition to a leadership position with the University of Iowa’s DEI team, where he plans to connect arts and culture to the university’s DEI goals.


Contributed photo of Andre Perry.

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter

From 11 years with the Englert Theatre to a future with the University of Iowa’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Andre Perry is keeping close to the Iowa City community.

On Aug. 24, the Englert announced that Perry would step down from his executive director role. His last day with the Englert will be on Sept. 13, before he officially transitions to a new position as a senior advisor and the director of arts, engagement, and inclusion with the UI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team on Sept. 22.

A graduate of the UI’s MFA Nonfiction Writing Program, Perry has had deep ties to Iowa City and the university for nearly 20 years. In addition to acting as a visiting adjunct assistant professor in the UI’s writing department, Perry also serves on numerous boards like The National Independent Venue Association, and has led multiple community projects in Iowa City, including co-founding the Mission Creek Festival and Witching Hour music and art events, both run by the Englert.

So far, Perry said the transition process has been a busy one, but he is grateful for all those who are stepping up to fill leadership roles, including John Schickedanz, who will serve as the Englert’s interim executive director in Perry’s absence.

Although he will soon be working with a slightly different concentration — moving from Iowa City’s entertainment scene to a more directly involved campus role — much of Perry’s work will remain the same, he said.

“It’s definitely a transition to go from one job to another, but the change in my head is not that big,” he said. “It’s like going from one home to another.”

With the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Perry will mainly focus on the arts and culture scene within the university, as well as overseeing campus climate surveys. He will also aid the division in supervising programs, conversations, and policy improvements.

Perry said much of his work will be connecting the arts and culture aspects on campus, including academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as arts initiative projects like Hancher Auditorium, to the UI’s larger DEI-based goals.

He added that he wants to make sure students see the DEI division as a resource, and to ultimately make sure the UI feels like a positive, welcoming environment.

“I think part of it is recognizing how arts and culture spectrums are really effective at igniting conversations and working people with different perspectives into the same room,” Perry said. “It gives us the ability to talk about topics that might affect students, or faculty and staff.”

Perry’s goal continues to revolve around community building. At the Englert, Perry said, the core aspiration they worked toward was to create a better space where people felt held by their community.

He said that there is a similar notion with working with DEI.

“For me, it’s all connected. I think all these institutions and programs and divisions have to be thinking about the environment through which its people are moving, and try to make it better constantly,” Perry said. “The work is never done.”