UI, ISU, UNI presidents detail cuts in DEI programs

DES MOINES — The presidents of the three state universities say they’re making progress on the directive by the Board of Regents to cut Diversity Equity and Inclusion efforts not necessary for accreditation or compliance.

University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson says their effort includes changing the DEI office. “It will be called the Division of Access Opportunity and Diversity. And under that new division will have two offices, as I said, one that will focus on accreditation and one that will focus on on generally compliance issues and that one will be called the office of civil rights compliance,” Wilson says.

Wilson says they will not fill five positions in the office. “We’ve decided that we we can make this office even leaner than it was before and we’ll save about $360,000 from that restructuring,” she says. Wilson also discussed the directive that no one be required to disclose their pronouns. “We also will be prohibiting anybody from requiring pronouns and that will be added to all syllabi for all courses as of the fall,” Wilson says.

Iowa State University president Wendy Wintersteen says they have also taken action. “Iowa State has made the decision that our vice president for diversity equity inclusion office will close in July. So we will eliminate essentially five positions two positions that are currently filled and three vacant positions,” she says. Wintersteen says that move will save $789,000. She says they have also taken action in other areas. “We have done a comprehensive review, and both of websites and promotional materials to make sure that everyone understands that all of our programs are available to all students,” Wintersteen says. ISU is also addressing the pronoun issue with a new policy. ”No employee student applicant or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns anyone may voluntarily disclose their own pronouns,” Wintersteen says.

University of Northern Iowa president Mark Nook also made a presentation at Thursday’s Regents meeting. “The reorganization includes the elimination of the Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Office, which has been and is an important part of the U-N-I experience for many of our students,” Nook says. “Because this office has served many students on our campus, we are creating new front line student-serving positions to expand our direct to student services for the entire U-N-I student population.” He says the new system will continue to make all students feel welcome. “These positions and services are focused on building a stronger sense of community for each student, which is essential to ensuring that students who come to you and I are retained graduate, and as you heard this morning, prepared for their lives after graduation,” Nook says. He says the work will continue. “It will take time to adjust to these changes, we are confident that by making these structural and organizational changes we will be able to provide the personal attention and services each UNI student needs and deserves,” he says.

All three university presidents say they directive made them look at the issues in a different way, and expanded the way they thought about making everyone feel welcome on the campuses. The Board of Regents issued eleven recommendations to the schools in November following a review by a study committee. State lawmakers approved a bill in the just ended session that puts many of the Regents directives into law.