UI DEI executive officer awaits next steps for regents diversity program investigation

Liz Tovar, executive officer, and associate vice president for the division of diversity, equity, and inclusion, spoke at the UI Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday, where she said the future is still unclear regarding the process of the investigation.


Darren Chen

Liz Tovar, the executive officer and associate Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, speaks during the Faculty Senate Meeting in the Senate Chamber, Old Capitol on Tuesday, March 28 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

The University of Iowa faculty members and administrators are waiting for directions on how to proceed with diversity-related issues following the pause of new diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and investigation of DEI programs at Iowa’s public universities. 

Regent President Mike Richards announced March 14 that the regents will conduct a comprehensive study on the success of DEI programs at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, and the UI. About two weeks following the announcement, faculty and administrators need clarification on what the investigation will do.

Liz Tovar, UI executive officer and associate vice president for the division of diversity, equity, and inclusion, said at a UI Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday, that she has still not been told about the finer details regarding the investigation at a UI Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday. 

Tovar said the details, including what it will look like and who will be involved, will likely take a while to be finalized. 

“I don’t have an answer for you because we have not received our instructions from the [regents] board office yet,” she said. “It would probably be another month.” 

Some faculty expressed concerns about addressing DEI issues in the classroom and with students following the pause. 

RELATED: UI stakeholders troubled by pausing of DEI programs

Teresa Mangum, UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies director and a gender, women’s, and sexuality studies professor, asked Tovar for guidance in showing support to students and colleagues from LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color. 

“That silence can so easily be read as a lack of care and support,” Mangum said. 

While DEI courses and policies have been a hot topic lately, Tovar told the faculty she had found other channels to showcase support beyond making statements. 

“Again, we want to make sure that we don’t get involved in the political sector, but we have some very creative ways to usually say, okay, if there’s proposed legislation, here’s what it really means for our campus and for our community,” she said.