UI athletics aims to hire diverse employees


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University of Iowa Athletics Department officials said Thursday said they are "working hard" to diversify the staff.

The Athletics Department has just under 200 full-time employees, including 73 women — three more than they had last year — and 17 minorities.

That means fewer than 40 percent of athletics employees are women, compared to 62 percent of the university-wide workforce.

"It is quite a challenge to diversify the whole corridor, but we're working hard to hire diverse employees," said Associate Athletics Director Mary Curtis.

"It's not just us, but the whole campus works hard. We're trying to make this an attractive community [to employees], though Iowa is not a very diverse state."

Hawkeye Athletics Director Gary Barta said his department's search process when hiring new employees is similar to that of other university departments.

Though some on the UI President's Committee on Athletics requested similar employment data from other Big Ten and peer institutions, Barta said the data are not currently available, but the department is looking into collecting them.

Jennifer Modestou, the director of UI equal opportunity and diversity, said the Athletics Department offers six different types of employment options — professional and scientific, merit, graduate assistant, temporary, contract through outside vendors, and volunteers.

"When the media ask me what I'm looking for when hiring, my answer will always be the same," Barta said. "I'm looking for somebody who has a lot of experience and people who share our values."

He said those values include dedication to the university.

"Not everybody wants to live in Iowa, and we will weed those people out in the next few months," Barta said with a chuckle, referring to the cold weather. "We want people who want to be here."

The university has a prescribed process for hiring new employees, which includes recruiting a diverse pool of applicants, reviewing the applicants, and interviewing prospective employees.

The committee will continue the search until it has a diverse applicant pool, Modestou said.

If there is not a minority or appropriate gender candidate in the group of finalists, the search committee head must speak with the athletics director and the director must approve the group in order to continue the search process.  

The UI Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity reviews the search process for all professional and scientific faculty positions at the university.

The Athletics Department is still trying to improve.

"We're looking at new actions for enhancing opportunities for minorities and diverse applicants," Modestou said.

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