Iowa Board of Regents vote in favor of reducing DEI programs

Posted at 6:58 PM, Nov 17, 2023
  • The Iowa Board of Regents voted to eliminate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs that aren't required for accreditation or by law on Thursday. It could mean the elimination of some jobs at the University of Iowa, Iowa State, and the University of Northern Iowa.
  • We spoke with a DEI facilitator based in Omaha, who graduated from Iowa State University about why he believes DEI programs are important.
  • University of Northern Iowa Statement: “The University of Northern Iowa is forming an advisory group to evaluate the DEI recommendations considered by the Iowa Board of Regents. This advisory group will appraise how these measures will impact the UNI community and will develop the response the Board has requested.”
  • Iowa State University Statement: "Iowa State University remains committed to the educational success of all students, to the professional success of all faculty and staff, and to providing a welcoming environment for all members of the ISU community. Now that the Board of Regents has adopted the study group’s recommendations, university leaders will review, consult with the board and form an internal advisory group on how best to respond. The university will share its plans at the Board of Regents meeting in April."
  • Read the 10 recommendations on the Regents website here.


In June Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law requiring the board of regents to study and report on DEI programs at the three state universities it governs.

I'm Southwest Iowa reporter Katrina Markel.

In a contentious meeting on Thursday, the Board of Regents debated the study.

The ten recommendations offered don't fit into simple headlines.

Supporters of eliminating some DEI programs say the universities are already welcoming places and thus the programs aren't needed.

Regents who want to keep these programs say they put the schools in a better position to recruit students and staff.

“I, for one, cannot agree with a few of the points described in these ten recommendations. when we have diverse people at the table we get different perspectives, different opinions and different voices," said Regent Nancy Dunkel.

Supporters of cutting back DEI programs say the universities have DEI initiatives that aren't necessary.

"Furthermore some of these programs appear to have goals involving diversity and equity that go beyond attempting to provide equal opportunity for all students," said Regent David Barker

I talked to DEI expert and Iowa State grad, Joe Gerstandt. The Marine Corps veteran and Omaha resident has worked for years on DEI initiatives with large corporations.

“I know there's a lot of communities in the Midwest that are talking about brain drain, that are talking about, they can't - they can't find enough talent. It should be obvious that diversity is part of a solution to that, but we don't always connect those dots." We'll continue to track this as it unfolds and what it means for staff and students at the universities.

In the studio, I'm your Southwest Iowa reporter, Katrina Markel.