Regent universities see increase in women, minority faculty


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The United States is etched with diversity and it’s a concept to which the University of Iowa is no stranger.

The Annual Diversity Report for the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa will be presented at the state Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday.

One higher-education expert said universities have become more diverse through the years. Many professionals believe diversity in universities will benefit students in the workplace and better communication skills, said Tom Mortenson, a higher-education policy analyst.

Over the past 10 years, there has been overall progress with the number of women and minorities being hired. At the UI, there was an increase of 1,338 women and 298 minorities who were hired or promoted.

“The university continually seeks ways to enhance its outreach efforts to ensure women, minorities, and other persons who may be interested in employment at the University of Iowa are aware of the job openings and able to apply and receive full consideration,” said Jennifer Modestou, the director of UI Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

The UI offers many programs to help women and minorities fully integrate with the staff.

One program dedicated to the elimination of racism and oppression at the UI is the National Coalition Building Institute — an international nonprofit leadership development network. In 2012, 55 staff, faculty, and students took part of a three-day workshop called Train-the-Trainer. More than 500 faculty members took part in a one-day workshop called Leadership for Equity and Inclusion.

“Interest in this program is high, as witnessed by the number of faculty and staff who have participated in a three-day Train-the-Trainer workshop and become a trained facilitator,” Modestou said, adding nearly all of the participants said they would recommend the one-day workshop to others.

UI officials have also implemented a strategic plan for diversity called Renewing the Iowa Promise. The program — which was implemented in 2010 and will continue through 2016 — recognizes a link between educational excellence and diversity.

“It is a benefit to students to be exposed to different cultures because they will be more comfortable dealing with different individuals on a higher level,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

The UI is not the only regent university to support women and minority faculty members.

Iowa State University has a program called ADVANCE, whose goal is to retain, recruit, and leadership for the women faculty of science, engineering, and mathematics.

“If you want to provide the best overall experience, you need to have a range of experience benefit by having access and interaction that round out our community,” said Rob Schweers, the communications director at Iowa State.

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