Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Sept. 20, 1996

Rollins new diversity adviser

by Anne Dolan
Increasing the number of minority and women faculty at Iowa State is the top priority of Derrick Rollins, associate professor of statistics and chemical engineering and ISU's newly appointed adviser for diversity to the President's Cabinet.

Rollins accepted the three-year appointment from President Martin Jischke last month and quickly identified minority faculty recruitment as a critical need at Iowa State.

"To me, it's not panel discussions or seminars or courses that improve the climate on a campus," Rollins said. "It's having diversity that makes the difference. Faculty have so much influence and so much contact with the students."

Rollins said he would like to increase the number of women in the sciences, and Native Americans, Hispanics and African Americans in all academic fields. He said he will do whatever departments ask of him during their searches -- provide lists of qualified candidates, host finalists, visit with candidates on the telephone and otherwise assist with a proactive search.

He is not, however, a "crutch" for departments conducting searches, he said. "I recognize that departments have autonomy. I'm not the diversity department, but if they're interested in hiring minorities, I'll be there."

Jischke noted in his fall convocation address that funding is available for four new faculty who will help strengthen the new curriculum requirement for coursework involving diversity and internationalization. Once departments are identified, Rollins will help recruit the broadest pool of candidates possible for these positions.

Rollins said that because the advisory position is a new one, in many ways he is "looking for the water before I can learn to swim.

"But I like that," he added. "I like the freedom to do the things I find need doing."

Officially, Rollins will serve as a consultant to the President's Cabinet, a group of central administrators and college deans. He will participate in cabinet and Academic Council meetings, represent the President's Office on the Diversity Steering Committee and other groups as appropriate, and act as a liaison between the university administration and under-represented groups on campus.

"I am delighted Dr. Rollins is willing to take on this new responsibility," Jischke said.

"Our expectation is that he will keep issues of diversity the focus of Cabinet attention and provide early and informed advice on issues related to diversity," Jischke added. "I personally look forward to working with him."

Rollins applauded Jischke's decision to set up the advisory position at the Cabinet level. "To impact diversity at Iowa State, we need to improve the information going to administrators, where there's a lack of minority representation," Rollins said. "The information administrators receive isn't balanced."

Rollins said that with his life and professional experiences and his rapport with students and underrepresented faculty groups, he believes he can add balance to the information administrators receive.

Diversity efforts
Following are some of the initiatives aimed at advancing diversity at ISU in recent years:

  • Minority student liaison officer hired in each college

  • Diversity Steering Committee created

  • Four senior faculty positions created to increase diversity in the curriculum

  • Campus climate surveys conducted

  • George Washington Carver visiting scholar program established to bring minority scholars to campus

  • "Dialogues on Diversity" course developed for students; a training and development seminar for ISU employees is based on the course

  • Administrative internship program developed to give ISU women and ethnic minorities experience in administrative positions

  • Two three-credit curriculum diversity requirements approved by Faculty Senate

  • Project Aware grant program created to encourage diversity, internationalization in the classroom and in curricula

  • George Washington Carver doctoral fellowship program established for minority Ph.D. students

  • Derrick Rollins appointed to new advisory position to the President's Cabinet on issues of diversity

  • Presidential Service Award for contributions to diversity at ISU created

  • Funds committed for four faculty positions to implement the diversity requirements in the curriculum

  • Additional funds committed to services for minority students, including renovation of the Black Cultural Center

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