UI Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion promotes new video series focusing on unity

The Journey to Unity Update, a new video series from the UI Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, highlights individual stories and perspectives, and promotes building respectful communities.



Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

The Journey to Unity Update, a video series featuring Black campus leaders, is now available on the University of Iowa’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion YouTube channel. The videos are intended to highlight community growth and celebrate leadership on campus.

The video was filmed as a sit-down discussion between the university leaders and then split into a five part video series.

“It came from a collaboration from our main team, just thinking of ways we can better bring forth the stories of faculty, staff, and students on our campus,” said Andre Perry, one of the panelists and the diversity division’s director of arts, engagement, and inclusion.

The video celebrates the stories of these faculty and gathers them all in conversation together, he said. Other than Perry, the panelists include:

  • Liz Tovar — executive officer and associate vice president, division of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Charlie Taylor — director of communications for the division of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Lew Montgomery — associate diversity, equity, and inclusion director, finance and operations human resources, and who was recently named interim director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the department of athletics
  • William Menefield — assistant professor of jazz studies, school of music
  • Alton Poole — UI police department community outreach officer
  • Maria Sanchez — community outreach officer, department of public safety

“It is a positive direction that we are going with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said during the discussions, he watched the passion rise to another level, as the group had more authentic and real conversations.

A year ago, when the division’s leadership team was deciding on a brand for its work, The Journey to Unity became a vision to embody a lot of different voices and perspectives, Perry said.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s politicians at the time called Black Americans “Super predators,” Poole said.

“As a Black male growing up, this image follows you wherever you go,” he said.

Poole said he hopes students feel encouraged to actively become a part of the solution to grow as part of a community, as everyone shares struggles.

“I do the work because change doesn’t come around by sitting on your hands,” he said.

Taylor said the updates will be an ongoing series.

“There will be another one in March and another one in April and [we will] have an ongoing series with all of our diversity, equity, and inclusion advisory committee,” Taylor said.

Perry said he hopes the outcomes are cumulative, and over time, people will build a better community at the UI.

“We hope that if we look back in two or three years, we would see an effect where this is positive work forward on our campus,” Perry said.