Working Together for Systemic Change

By Lynette L. Marshall
Now is the time to amplify our efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Lynette L. Marshall

Universities have the opportunity, and the obligation, to work toward racial justice and social equality. The tragic killing of George Floyd has awakened white Americans to what our Black and Brown citizens have known and experienced for centuries. Racial disparities and police violence are at the forefront of our thoughts and require our action, and I intend to ensure that the University of Iowa Center for Advancement, Iowa's organization for alumni and friends, is a positive part of moving toward a more just community. I know that by relying on our vast knowledge and resource base at the university and engaging our global alumni community, we can make positive change.

Two years ago, the University of Iowa shared an updated diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan outlining four goals: to create an inclusive and equitable campus environment; recruit, retain, and advance a diverse campus community of faculty, staff, and students; integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the university's core academic mission; and enhance campus-wide accountability, effectiveness, and collaboration. We have made much progress; however, in the wake of recent events, we must amplify the urgency of our efforts.

We want to engage you, our alumni and friends, as we work toward systemic change. How can we help our greater university community learn more about these important issues and effect change? Please share your suggestions on our communications, events, and programming with me.

The UI Center for Advancement recently convened a meeting with UI Provost Montserrat Fuentes and UI College of Nursing Dean Julie Zerwic—a co-chair of Iowa's diversity, equity and inclusion Path Forward work group—and the leadership of two of our alumni groups: the Iowa Black Alumni Association and Iowa Black Alumni Network. We listened as Melita Pope Mitchell (97BA), and Orville (67BS, 72MA) and Billie Townsend (95MA), shared their love and loyalty for the UI, while also acknowledging their disappointment in the continued experience of injustices in the university community. Through their stories, we've learned how we can better understand the challenges our students, staff, and faculty face, and how we might address those challenges. Our discussions inspired me to reach out here, to not only reinforce our support for the Black community, but also initiate a greater discussion.

This is a learning moment for me and for many of us, and our faculty are an important source of information on the history, economics, and politics of racial inequity. Our fall issue of Iowa Magazine will feature leading voices from campus sharing their perspectives on the movement for racial justice. We recently launched a virtual event series, "Chat from the Old Cap," and featured director of The Privilege Institute Eddie Moore Jr. (04PhD), who shared his insights. For those who have asked how they could help financially, your support of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will further our work toward a welcoming, respectful, and inclusive campus environment for all.

We also are reevaluating our programs and services to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all those we serve. If you have suggestions or recommendations for alumni programming, I hope to hear from you. Together, we can make a difference for our students, our communities, and the world.

For Iowa,
Lynette L. Marshall
President and CEO
The University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Please reach out to me at president@foriowa.org

Iowa Magazine
Explore the Summer 2020 edition of the Iowa Magazine.

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