DEI mission statement

The School of Art and Art History respects, honors, and acknowledges the influence of the Ho-Chunk, Chippewa, Ioway, Missouria, Otoes, Kaw, Omaha, Osage, Ponca, Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, Kickapoo, Wyandot, Potawatomie, Ojibwe, Winnebago, Odawa and the land on which we have built our school, university, and communities in Iowa. Sovereign, tribal, and traditional nations continue to contribute and exist in the state of Iowa. Treaties and numerous violations of them are part of the history of Iowa and the United States more broadly. Genocide, force, and broken promises were used to remove Native peoples from their ancestral land. Institutions like The University of Iowa benefited from this, and it recognizes its responsibility to raise awareness of the contributions and sacrifices Indigenous peoples have made over time caused by the practices of settler colonialization that are still present in our lives.

The School of Art and Art History defines diversity and difference through the intersectional lenses of categories such as race, class, gender identity and expression, sexuality, national origin, ethnicity, spirituality, citizenship, veteran status, ability, age, neurodiversity, caretaking roles, and language. We strive to see beyond harmful or limiting stereotypes and instead regard people’s differences as strengths. People in each of these categories have experienced imbalances of power and oppressive harm by majority groups and institutions. Creating and sustaining excellence and innovation require that diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion must be at the front and center in our practice, classrooms, and our community. Alternative viewpoints are one of the most important aspects in the creation of artistic and social imagination. Social imaginations allow us to have empathy, and to visualize benefits to society.

The School of Art and Art History embraces its mission to encourage equity and inclusion across the school and to create equal opportunities for all faculty, staff, and students. 

We strive to make our school a place where people can safely engage in open and civil discourse about a variety of topics regardless of their viewpoint or identity and within a climate that fosters artistic and academic freedom.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount in all decisions relating to policy, hiring, admissions, pedagogy, and the curriculum.

As educators, we pledge to engage critically create well-informed and engaged curricula for our students. In our pedagogy we strive to be attentive to trends and issues we feel are most relevant to scholarship in the visual arts and liberal arts. We will capitalize on important moments in our present history as teaching opportunities to show the relevance and role of art and art history to our students. We want our students to study and explore art from a variety of people who have complex identities from various periods, places, and perspectives.

Working to broaden the diversity of scholars and artists at the School of Art History we are,taking action to invite and welcome underrepresented minorities, LGBTQ+ communities, veterans, students, staff, and faculty with diverse perspectives. We also are striving to eliminate barriers in our application processes, and to broaden pathways for students to seek and obtain employment in the arts or further their education.  Reinforcing efforts on our campus and in our community for faculty, staff, and students to nurture belonging, health and wellness in addition to education is also important.  Our goal is for people in the School of Art and Art History to feel part of a community where innovation, creativity, scholarship and well-being are valued.

House open letters

We see the diversity that comprises the School of Art & Art History as the indelible fabric of our depth and passion as artists and scholars. I cannot fully express our sense of outrage at yet one more act of violence born of bigotry and xenophobia in America. The killing of Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue, Delaina Ashely Yuan, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng, along with a year that has seen intolerable bigotry has, once more, brought us to this all too familiar and hollow place in this country. To our hundreds of Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students and faculty, on behalf of faculty and staff, I want you to know that we feel the anguish and justifiable fear that comes with this latest episode of a deep-rooted strain of racism in America. The truth is there can be no equanimity for any of us so long as violence born of bigotry is present in our lives. We are here to support all students and faculty and especially our Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your advisor and faculty or the University Counseling Center to seek support during this difficult time. We are here for you, and we stand with you in justice and solidarity.

We, the members of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee in the School of Art and Art History write to support our students, faculty, staff, and community and to register our disdain and horror at the use of harmful military tactics by law enforcement like tear gas, batons, bodily force, and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters; not just in Iowa City, and across the United States but around the world. As people in our communities enact their rights to raise their voices and march in solidarity against anti-blackness and the killing of innocent Black people by police and through state sponsored violence, we should be insisting that the state support our first amendment rights to assemble peaceably and petition our government. We should insist that police fulfill their mission to protect and serve; this means they should protect protestors and use non harmful tactics to deescalate violence and keep the peace, which they failed to do on June 3, 2020. Although, the response on the night of June 4, 2020, was remarkably different, we recognize this as a choice on the part of law enforcement, when in fact it is a constitutional right of our citizens. We applaud our university for seeking some steps toward reform as stated in the letter they released and the joint statement they created with city leaders. 

Violence in the face of rebellion, peaceful or otherwise, is baked into the history of the United States. Once again, our country has erupted because of our long history of anti-blackness, white supremacy and state sponsored violence against people of color. George Floyd’s senseless and brutal murder at the hands of police was a catalytic spark, but the pile of tinder has been building for 400 years. So many Black lives have been extinguished by slavery, police, vigilante lynching and mob violence, and our current “justice” system through incarceration and state sponsored executions. We cannot continue to ignore the toll that this has and is taking on our country.

There is no way to discount the wrong actions of some protesters. There have been fires, looting, property damage, and interpersonal violence across the country. These are expressions of anger and despair. There is also no way to not recognize that protest is not a first resort but a response to not being heard, and it is one of the most effective tools for beginning and creating broad sweeping social change. Often the violence that occurs reminds the public at large that they do not have the stomach for such horror, or that these "interruptions" are not dissimilar to the way others are forced to live their entire lives in this country. These experiences motivate society to make change and stop violence. Only then will our elected and appointed leaders acquiesce, and finally acknowledge the things they have ignored for so long. We want to remind people that stores can be rebuilt, monuments can be cleaned, but a life can never be returned once it is taken.

We acknowledge that our university community is going to join with other communities across our country to review law enforcement practices, hold campus law enforcement accountable when they harm the people they are sworn to protect, stand against police brutality, eliminate attitudes of racism and anti-blackness, and re-examine our relationship with the Iowa City Police Department. We applaud the involvement of students in these efforts.

In closing we want to affirm our support of civil dialog, education, and peaceful protest. We want to send a message of love and solidarity to our faculty, staff, and students who bravely enacted their first amendment rights during these ongoing June protests. Our work has just begun, and we want you to know we stand with you because Black Lives Matter.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are fundamental to the mission of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa, as we conduct our work in the context of the whole of humanity.

  • In our teaching, we draw on, explore, and question every facet of human experience and understanding.
  • In our scholarship, scientific inquiry, and artistry, we create new knowledge and insight, reflecting and shaping the cultures and societies in which human lives unfold.
  • In our service to Iowans, we collaborate with communities to solve critical problems arising from inequity.

DEI values are inseparable from those of the liberal arts tradition. To fully realize our college’s critical mission of advancing human understanding within that tradition, we must actualize these values in every aspect of our decision-making and every area of our academic community.