Iowa State University building equality, diversity team

New director looking to 'create positive changes' on ISU campus

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Iowa State University will debut a new equal opportunity director next month, marking its second administrative hire under the diversity and inclusion umbrella since fall.

Margo Foreman, associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will begin her work at Iowa State on April 25 managing equal opportunity, affirmative action, discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct programs.

She also will serve as the university’s Title IX coordinator. Her appointment follows that of Reginald Stewart, who in December started as Iowa State’s vice president for diversity and inclusion — a new position created in response to recommendations from a 2014 study of ISU diversity programs.

Stewart, who had been serving as inaugural chief diversity officer at the University of Nevada, started on the job Dec. 1 after the Board of Regents approved his appointment Oct. 22. In the new role, he is advising senior leadership on diversity planning efforts; developing initiatives to increase institutional diversity through recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students; and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The two new hires come as Iowa State remains under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for its handling of sexual assault reports and after a recent climate study revealed nearly 1 in 10 ISU students experienced some type of unwanted sexual misconduct during their college years.

That data emerged from Iowa State’s participation in a 27-campus survey through the Association of American Universities — one of the nation’s largest analyses of campus sex assaults. At 9.7 percent, the rate of ISU students who experienced sexual misconduct was less than the average 11.7 percent across the participating campuses.

The Iowa State rate of female undergraduate students who reported being subject to nonconsensual sex or touching by force or incapacitation was more than 19 percent, also below the national average of 23 percent, according to the AAU Climate Survey.

But ISU President Steven Leath at the time stressed the need to do even better.

“These findings will help guide us as we identify areas for continued improvement,” he said in a statement.

In announcing Foreman’s hire this month, Leath praised her reputation for being committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and said that dedication “will be an asset to the university as we strive to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for everyone.”

Foreman, according to a news release, said she’ll spend her first months on the job talking with university community members about what they perceive as Iowa State’s equal opportunity priorities.

Her role, she said, is to initiate partnerships and collaboration across campus around a shared vision for equal opportunity, equity, and affirmative action. And, Foreman said, Iowa State’s mission in that regard aligns with her personal mission and career ideals about “making the world around me a better place.”

“I fell in love with the idea of being a member of an organization where I can practice, grow, and help create positive changes,” she said in a statement. “I believe Iowa State University is the organization and community where I can make that happen.”

Foreman will take over for Mary Sirna, administrative adviser for ISU police who has been serving as interim equal opportunity director since Robinette Kelley left the position in October. With Indiana University-Purdue University, Foreman for 17 years served in the equal opportunity office, starting as executive secretary to the director before moving to equal opportunity specialist, assistant director of diverse workforce recruitment and retention, and then associate director.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a concentration in social behavior science from that institution, along with a master’s degree in public health.

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