RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the president, the director of equal opportunity will define, assess, and promote the university’s objectives in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and compliance. The director serves as the Title IX coordinator, affirmative action officer, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator, assuring compliance with the law, regulations, and university policies.
The director of equal opportunity will be responsible for leading and managing all aspects of the Title IX, Title VII, equal opportunity, and affirmative action programs at the university, including compliance with federal and state laws, executive orders, and university policies and procedures; overseeing the university’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, which includes campus education as well as enforcement of the policy through complaint resolution and investigations; and compliance with affirmative action requirements, including the university’s annual affirmative action plan.
It is critical for the director to work in close collaboration with many offices across Iowa State, including but not limited to human resources, general counsel, provost, public safety, dean of students, intercollegiate athletics, and student affairs. In addition, the director will develop policies and programs relating to equal opportunity, affirmative action, and related compliance efforts and is responsible for implementing, monitoring, and reporting these programs. The director oversees the office of equal opportunity’s administrative and operational activities, with a talented staff of six professionals and a $900K+budget.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
The successful candidate will have a formal university education coupled with extensive experience as a senior leader of an organization of substantial size and complexity. The ideal candidate will have experience in Title IX investigations and resolutions and comprehensive EEO/AA compliance expertise. In addition, the next director will have a highly collaborative management style and a demonstrated interest in promoting a culture of openness and transparency with experience in report preparation and analysis, policy development and implementation, budget development, and staff supervision. Preferred qualifications include experience working in equal opportunity in a higher education institution; cooperating in the creation and delivery of educational programming; working with federal and state compliance agencies; investigating and/or resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment; and working in a highly decentralized environment of similar size and complexity.
The director of equal opportunity will bring a compliance-based problem-solving approach to this role with a collaborative mindset that invests in developing their team as well as contributing across the broader university to train, educate, and live the institution’s philosophy around equal opportunity, affirmative action, and compliance. A solid ability to work with and manage the work of others while also overseeing and completing multiple projects with critical deadlines and strong presentation skills to reach a broad audience with varying learning and communication styles is necessary. Further, excellent verbal and written communication skills and a strong consultative and collaborative approach are key to effectively communicating with all levels of the organization, from senior leaders to a broad manager and employee base, as well as students.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:
- A strategic and creative leader can think outside the box and generate innovative solutions to complex problems.
- Exhibits superb judgment and a high level of tact, diplomacy, and persuasive ability as required in discussing critical issues that substantially impact the university.
- Ability to build community, engaging faculty, staff, students, and administrators to work collaboratively to address and advance equity issues.
- A data-driven decision-maker who can create consensus around strategy and operations.
- Demonstrated experience building collaborative partnerships, energizing work teams, and leading primarily through influence.
- Ability to be transparent in acknowledging issues and prioritizing solutions and resources.
- Ability to serve with compassion as a nonjudgmental advocate for individuals of under-represented/protected status groups.
- Ability to effectively engage others, actively listen to integrate information, and learn about the Iowa State environment and its work culture.
- Possess strong communication, consultative/facilitative, relationship-building, problem-solving/mediation, problem-prevention, diplomacy capabilities, and an abiding approach of fairness.
- Adept at developing and empowering equal opportunity staff to solve issues and provide quality customer service.
- A compassionate, ethical leader with excellent communication skills and a proven ability to deal with conflict, effectively work with staff members at various levels of development and knowledge, and demonstrate authenticity, passion, and empathy in all endeavors.
- A strong supervisor who clearly communicates expectations, delegates effectively, and supports staff’s professional development and continuing education.
- Knowledge of public higher education and an appreciation for a land-grant university’s ongoing mission of learning, discovery, and engagement for the common good.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
In 2013, the offices of human resource services and equal opportunity were reorganized into separate units, and a director of equal opportunity was selected. This person served in the role for roughly two and a half years. The next director of equal opportunity subsequently served from April 2016 through October 2021. Throughout their tenure the office reported to the newly created vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion. This director resigned to accept a senior-level position at another institution. Following the departure of the director, the office was realigned to report directly to the office of the president. The most recent director of equal opportunity served Iowa State until this July. An interim is in this role while the institution conducts a national search for its next director of equal opportunity.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
In transitioning to Iowa State University, the new director of equal opportunity will encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges:
- Balance the needs of individuals against the institution’s legal responsibility—it will be necessary to steer the appropriate course between support for all underrepresented groups while ensuring the university complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
- The office of equal opportunity is evolving; this new director has a wonderful opportunity to create an exemplary office focused on service aligned with the institution’s strategic plan.
- Employ appropriate and flexible strategies for applying the authority of this position that reports to the president’s office and has the attention of the senior cabinet.
- Develop and maintain a highly collaborative approach for the office, even in contentious situations. The office of equal opportunity should be a consultative organization that partners with campus departments on issues of compliance and equity.
- Demonstrate the sensitivity and tact essential to responding to individuals’ concerns with the necessary personal and professional resolve when circumstances dictate that the director adopts an unpopular position.
- Iowa State is a highly decentralized institution, so it will be essential for the director to build collegial relationships and work collaboratively across campus.
- Provide appropriate attention to matters of concern to varied constituents.
- The political climate in Iowa may bring some challenges. However, there is strong support for this position and office from the senior leadership team to work through any issues.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
At an appropriate interval after joining Iowa State University, the following items will initially define success for the new director of equal opportunity:
- There is clear evidence that the director has built productive, collaborative relationships across the institution.
- Training, engagement, and mentoring of equal opportunity staff to empower them to solve problems and provide customer service to the departments and organizations will be necessary.
- The director has engaged several stakeholders in critical discussions about best practices and the university’s direction on issues of equity and compliance.
- Data collection processes and assessment measures are in place, enabling more significant data-driven decisions within the equal opportunity department and across the institution.
OVERVIEW OF THE OFFICE OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
The office of equal opportunity is on a mission to create an environment where all people are treated with dignity and respect and have an equal opportunity to learn and work at Iowa State University, free from discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct.
Faculty, staff, and students may meet with Equal Opportunity (EO) staff to consult about concerns they think might be related to discrimination or harassment. These consultations aim to clarify issues and identify appropriate actions, options, possible solutions, and available resources and support. Issues and disputes unrelated to EO may be referred to other campus units for appropriate resources or resolution.
A facilitated conversation is a constructive dialogue between two or more individuals that allows for voices to be heard and perspectives to be shared. Because it is a conversation, working toward a particular resolution or agreement is not the intended outcome. In addition, the facilitated conversation is not part of and does not imply or initiate any formal complaint or investigation. Rather, the conversation offers an informal resolution to the concerns an individual has engaged our office to address.
Mediation is a process for parties to resolve a dispute with the help of an unbiased EO Specialist who guides them in a discussion regarding their conflict/differences and toward jointly resolving the concern. The EO Specialist does not “take sides.” The EO Specialist guides the process, and the parties do the work of making decisions and coming up with solutions.
Trainings and Presentations
EO offers multiple opportunities for training and education for individuals, departments, and units in multiple platforms and formats on a wide range of topics.
Iowa State University (ISU) is a student-centric leading university serving 30,177 students. ISU is classified as a Carnegie Foundation Doctoral/Research University-Extensive, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the nation. As a land-grant institution, ISU is a global and culturally diverse institution committed to providing a supportive environment for both learning and employment— variety in experience and perspective is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and building a comprehensive academic community. Students thrive in learning communities and actively engage in 800-plus student organizations, undergrad research, internships, and study abroad. They learn from world-class scholars tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges—feeding the hungry, finding alternative fuels, and advancing manufacturing. ISU is located in Ames, Iowa, a community of 67,000 situated 30 minutes north of the state capital of Des Moines and was recently voted as the number one “Best College Town in America” by 247WallSt.com in June 2023.
The Student Body (Fall 2023 data)
Total enrollment: 30,177
Professional students: 635
Retention rate: 89%
Multicultural Enrollment: 16.3%
International Students: 9%
Wendy Wintersteen, president
Dr. Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on November 20, 2017, after a nationwide search followed by a unanimous vote of the board of regents, State of Iowa. The first woman to hold the university’s highest office, Dr. Wintersteen has served Iowa State for more than 40 years in several capacities.
Dr. Wintersteen is advancing ISU for the 21st century with priorities and aspirations expressed in ISU’s new strategic plan: to be the most student-centric leading research university where students, faculty, and staff flourish in a welcoming and inclusive environment; to be the university that fosters lifelong learning, creates opportunities, and forges new frontiers; and to be a trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.
Before becoming president, Dr. Wintersteen served 11 years as the inaugural endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. During her tenure, ISU’s agricultural programs ranked in the top 10 worldwide, CALS enrollment rapidly increased to become the third-largest college of agriculture in the nation, research grants increased markedly, awards for teaching excellence grew, and the college achieved a 98 percent placement rate for its graduates.
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Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to Heather J. Larabee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
Visit the Iowa State University website at www.iastate.edu
Iowa State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, marital status, disability, or protected veteran status, and will not be discriminated against. This position serves at the pleasure of university administration and is exempt from certain P&S policies.