Open letter from the dean

CATEGORIES: Announcements

Dear Colleagues,

As I hope you are aware, Iowa State University is taking deliberate action to address recent racist acts and to improve the campus climate. In a letter to students, faculty and staff last week, President Wintersteen reaffirmed the university’s condemnation of racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. She also introduced specific actions tied to measurable results.

I am strongly supportive of these actions. It is time that we all fully appreciate the impact of racism, bigotry and xenophobia on our community and on individuals. We must make every effort to support students, faculty and staff of color, of Latinx heritage, from indigenous populations, who identify as LGBTQIA, practice different religions, have visible or invisible disabilities, or who come from cultures or countries other than the US.

It is our responsibility to make ISU a better place.

Some actions set forth by the president include:

“Starting spring semester 2020, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will conduct annual training for faculty in each academic department on the importance of, and approaches to, creating an inclusive classroom environment.”

It is critical that faculty have the awareness and the tools to respond appropriately to student-faculty as well as student-student interactions in the classroom and in other environments where you might experience such an interaction. If you think about the profound, cumulative impact of micro aggressions on people from underrepresented groups, investing one faculty meeting per year to learn about these important issues is not asking too much.

“Starting immediately, all search committees for faculty and staff in academic affairs, and senior administrative positions, will receive diversity, equity and inclusion training.”

We already do this for faculty searches and will continue to improve our training to make it more effective and informative. It is just as imperative that we work to diversify our staff, especially but not limited to, advisors and other student-facing professionals.

“All college promotion and tenure committees will receive diversity, equity and inclusion training beginning with the next cycle.”

I am working with our LAS equity advisor, Javier Vela, to build this training into the charge meeting for the college P&T committee. This has always been an important topic in my remarks to tenure committees, but a formal training will provide a definitive awareness that can benefit not just a search but in turn, the ISU campus climate.

In addition, we are working on developing special training for department chairs and will share best practices for TA training. Faculty, staff and students from underrepresented groups need to feel certain that their department chairs understand their unique challenges and support their needs. Several of our departments do an excellent job preparing their graduate teaching assistants and their programs can serve as models for others.

To summarize, it is our responsibility to make ISU a better place. If you have suggestions or want to highlight a colleague who makes an especially notable contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion in LAS, please write to me.

My best regards,
Beate Schmittmann
Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences