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University of Iowa still hiring for new diversity VP after promised $16.6 million in coronavirus relief

Previous official quit after six weeks, got $250,000 anyway

The University of Iowa’s values haven’t changed even as the coronavirus pandemic poses the worst threat to its finances since the Great Recession.

The taxpayer-funded institution, slated to receive $16.6 million in COVID-19 relief under the federal CARES Act, is still moving forward with plans to hire a new associate vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.

The search firm for the new hire held virtual meetings with students, faculty and staff Wednesday “to receive feedback on what a search committee should look for and expect from an associate vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” drawing 39 students for that specific meeting, The Daily Iowan reports.

One student called for the position to report directly to the university president because the official would have the closest contact with “marginalized identities,” in the paraphrase of the newspaper. “There have been a lot of times where a lot of identities were attacked on this campus, in many different ways,” senior Isabel Flores said.

MORE: University hires diversity chief in midst of COVID refunds, student fee hike

A representative of the search firm responded that the position would report to the provost, since the official will “most likely” sit on the President’s Cabinet. The university is expected to announce the new official by next spring.

The previous diversity chief, TaJuan Wilson, quit after six weeks and got to keep $250,000 in apparent violation of his contract.

The administration gave him paper-pushing duties, including the creation of two PowerPoint presentations, while he searched for a new job on the clock at the university. Wilson started a similar job at Georgia Southern University last month.

Meanwhile, the University of Iowa’s athletics department has frozen hiring and spending and expects to tap its reserve fund to cover “several millions of dollars” in anticipated shortfalls through the end of the fiscal year, according to USA Today brand Hawk Central.

Read the Daily report.

MORE: U. Iowa diversity chief resigns after six weeks, gets to keep more than $250,000

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