University of Iowa loses another diversity director

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story included an introduction that contained a poor word choice. The introduction has been changed to remove this language. (Note added: 12:00 p.m, Sept. 19, 2019.)

COUNCIL BLUFFS — The University of Iowa has lost another key member of its diversity staff with the departure of its College of Engineering diversity and outreach programs director to Penn State University.

Tracy Peterson, who joined the UI college in 2014 and led its Engineering Student Success Team, wrapped his time as a Hawkeye on Friday.

He’s joining Penn State as director of multicultural engineering programs in the Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion, according to an internal email from the UI college earlier this month.

“We are excited for this new opportunity for Tracy but are sad to see him leave our College of Engineering family,” the email read.

Peterson helped create and implement the college’s youth policy, which “has become a model that other colleges on campus look to when creating their own procedures.”

“The past six years have been both rewarding and challenging,” Peterson wrote on his Facebook page. “I truly believe that when we commit ourselves to equity and inclusion through practice, communication and compassion, we immerse ourselves in meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of those we serve.”


In his move to State College, Peterson joins Tonya Peeples, former associate dean of diversity and outreach for the UI College of Engineering, who was appointed in August 2018 as Penn State’s associate dean for equity and inclusion.

Peterson’s departure comes as the broader campus reshapes its diversity strategy and structure.

The campus recently released findings from a campuswide climate study; launched a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan; moved core diversity offices into new offices; and changed the diversity reporting chain.

Peterson’s departure follows that of TaJuan Wilson, who started as the UI’s chief diversity officer June 28, only to resign six weeks later, saying the job “is not the right fit for me at this time.”

The UI lost its former diversity officer Georgina Dodge in 2017 when she took a similar job at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, and then Lena Hill, who was acting as interim UI diversity head until May 2018 when she became dean of the college at Washington and Lee University.

“Many universities are doing this important work, and in an increasingly competitive job market, it’s challenging to retain talented faculty and staff,” UI spokeswoman Hayley Bruce told The Gazette. “The College of Engineering remains committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and plans to fill Tracy Peterson’s position.”

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