Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Update

Monday, May 16th, 2022

Dear UNI Community, 

As we approach the end of the 2021-22 academic year, it is important to reflect on the progress our faculty, staff and students have made this year on our enduring journey to become a more equitable, diverse and inclusive university.

In September, the President’s Council for Inclusion, Transformative Social Justice and Advocacy (CITSJA) sent me an annual report outlining important steps we can take as a university community to live our values related to equity, diversity and inclusion. CITSJA’s recommendations followed more than a year’s work to assess our strengths, as well as to identify areas that require our attention and leadership in four key topics: University Budget, Curriculum, Campus Climate and Faculty and Staff.

After carefully reviewing the report, I met with co-chairs Dr. Doug Mupasiri and Janel Alleyne to discuss our approach to taking action on the CITSJA’s Annual Report. To date, we have taken the following actions to address the CITSJA’s recommendations:

  • Unpack. Nurture. Improve: UNI’s Climate Study. A campus-wide climate study work group is facilitating an action-focused climate assessment that launched in February. The work group is partnering with Rankin & Associates Consulting, LLC (R&A), an external consulting firm that specializes in organizational climate studies to help colleges and universities produce transformative change. Information about this initiative can be found on the UNI Climate Study webpage. In April, R&A hosted 19 focus groups with the campus community to help the work group develop a comprehensive survey; in addition, the focus groups will produce insights that the UNI community can act upon before the comprehensive survey launches in the fall.
  • EDI Landscape Analysis. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning is coordinating with the President’s Council for Inclusion, Transformative Social Justice, and Advocacy to capture a broad picture of the work by our faculty, staff, and campus organizations to advance equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. Through this work, we will have a richer knowledge base of our organizational strengths across campus while identifying where we might be able to invest our time to build organizational capacity. The landscape analysis will launch in the fall.
  • Embed EDI throughout UNI’s next Strategic Plan. Last week, UNI announced the culmination of more than a year’s work to engage our community to build the next five-year strategic plan. Entitled Create. Empower. Innovate., UNI’s 2023-28 Strategic Plan outlines key strategies we will take in the next five years to assure every one of our students and employees has the resources and support they need to achieve their academic, professional and personal life goals. Upon approval from the Iowa Board of Regents, UNI’s Strategic Plan Coordinating Council will be responsible for working with the campus community to implement and monitor progress on the plan.
  • UNI Action Item Follow-Up. The original call for nominations to create what is now called the President’s Council for Inclusion, Transformative Social Justice, and Advocacy (CITSJA) occurred in 2019. While our sights were set on the future, we recognized the need to address needs in our present. Along with the formation of the Council, a series of 12 action items were announced. Each of those action steps was achieved, and we continue to routinely evaluate each item as the needs of our campus community evolve. You can view the action items and updates on the CITSJA webpage; you can access the action item update by entering your CatID login credentials.

It is important to view equity, diversity and inclusion as a journey rather than a destination. Together, we will continue to live our responsibility to create an even better UNI. Please join me in thanking members of the CITJSA for their continued leadership to guide UNI’s work to create a broadly equitable, diverse and inclusive community.

As we work together to create institutional transformation, it is important to acknowledge the efforts many of our faculty, staff and students undertake every day to create a living, learning and working environment where every person is empowered to reach their educational, professional and personal life goals.

As our work progresses and evolves, we will continue to provide updates to our campus community. You can also continue to learn more about campus-wide initiatives—including ways you can engage in UNI’s diversity work—on the CITSJA webpage and the UNI Climate Study webpage. Thank you for being a Panther. We are a vibrant campus community made better by your presence.

Panther Proud!

Mark A. Nook