Commitment to Community

The Hub: Perspective

Written by Sharon Perry Fantini, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Environmental portrait of Sharon Perry Fantini.


I felt the truth of those words when I first arrived at Iowa State University in January 2022. I knew our university leaders fully believe that anyone, from any background or identity, who comes to Iowa State with the drive to pursue their goals should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

That defines us as Iowa Staters. That’s our land-grant heritage.

Like many of our students, I knew immediately that this university was the place for me. But for some, it can be an intimidating journey. Especially for those who know firsthand how fragile a sense of belonging can be.

One of my first tasks at Iowa State was asking members of our campus community to tell me what the words diversity, equity, and inclusion meant to them.

What I heard was a recurring and common theme: Commitment.

Committing to fostering an inclusive learning, working, and living environment is never “one and done.” It’s the everyday work of creating the conditions in which every person has access and opportunity to fully participate.

It begins with welcoming people in such a way that they feel how deeply we mean it. And continues with committing ourselves to do better and make a difference — every day — for this place we love.

One way we’re doing better is with a new $1.5 million investment in a student success initiative aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates. The initiative focuses on those who can be the most at-risk, including first-generation students, multicultural students, and students whose progress toward a degree has been impacted by the pandemic.

How we educate and support students from many diverse backgrounds and identities sets the stage for their success at Iowa State — and prepares them to enter the workforce and take on the responsibilities of engaged citizens.

For me, the ultimate success will be our ability to instill confidence in our graduates so that, no matter where they end up, they unequivocally can say: