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Iowa State to close DEI office, eliminate five positions

Vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion made $246k last year, according to public records

Iowa State University will close its Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office this summer in response to a directive from the Iowa Board of Regents, its president said Thursday.

ISU President Wendy Wintersteen (pictured) made the announcement during a presentation to the board about the steps her university has been taking to end DEI initiatives, according to a YouTube livestream of the meeting.

“Iowa State has made the decision that our Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office will close in July,” she said.

Wintersteen said five positions, three of which are vacant, will be eliminated, and the office budget will be reallocated to university priorities. She said ISU established the DEI office in 2015.

These include the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2023, Sharon Fantini made $245,920 in the position, according to public records reported by The Gazette. Currently, Dawn Bratsch-Prince is listed as the interim office leader. Last year, her salary as associate provost was $315,058, according to public records reported at GovSalaries.com.

The change comes in response to a Iowa Board of Regents directive last year to abolish all “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives at public universities that are not required for compliance with state law.

As a result, Wintersteen told the board Thursday the university also updated its promotional materials and websites to clarify that “all of our programs are available to all students.”

Additionally, she said the Faculty Senate recently approved an addition to the university’s required syllabus statement about personal pronouns.

“No employee, student, applicant, or campus visitor is compelled to disclose their pronouns. Anyone may voluntarily disclose their own pronouns,” the statement reads.

Wintersteen said Iowa State also has begun advertising some of its job openings “in publications that attract audiences with diverse intellectual and philosophical perspectives,” including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

She said university leaders are working on free speech and civic education initiatives as well.

At the beginning of her presentation, Wintersteen said she believes it is “so critically important” that students “regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status” can “find a community in which they belong.”

While working on the abolish DEI directive, “it was really important for us to focus on how we could maintain support for student educational success and also how we could maintain a welcoming campus,” she told the board.

MORE: After Iowa Board of Regents abolish higher ed DEI initiatives, high-paid deans on chopping block

IMAGE: Iowa Board of Regents/YouTube

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.