Associate Professor Erika Ernst has been named the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.
The College has had a DEI committee for several years but not a true director or resources. Ernst has been recognized with previous teaching awards, including the 2021 UI College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year Award. Faculty and students noted that she has “high standards” and is “incredibly thoughtful.”
“There are many areas where the college needs to put a sustained effort toward DEI, particularly in the recruitment of faculty, students and staff,” Ernst said. We also need to dedicate time toward educating both faculty and students, and evaluating our curricular offerings using a DEI lens.”
As she begins leading DEI efforts for the College, Ernst’s initial efforts will be to identify priorities and begin making plans of action.
She will develop a comprehensive plan to ensure faculty, staff and students have an inclusive environment for learning and collaboration.
First steps for Ernst include:
- Reach out to collegiate leaders to “discuss how we can include DEI as part of annual evaluations for all faculty.”
- Working with each collegiate committee—such as curriculum, assessment, and the like—"to identify priorities for DEI.
- Creating “charges and plans related to DEI” for student organizations. “For example, they will be asked to keep track of invited speakers to ensure all our organizations are bringing in diverse speakers.”
The DEI Director position is part of the College of Pharmacy’s leadership team.
Ernst began her new role on April 1, 2022 with an initial two-year appointment.
“We are excited to begin our journey of education, planning and implementation in DEI under Dr. Ernst’s leadership. It will take the support and engagement of all of you in the college community to create and implement this plan.”
~ Dean Donald Letendre
“Anyone with concerns or ideas related to DEI issues can bring them to me at any time,” Ernst said. “The idea behind this is that DEI is not one person’s or one committee’s responsibility. It is the responsibility of all of us.”