The University of Iowa

Changing face of UI diversity

November 30th, 2012

The following story appeared in Iowa Now as part of the University of Iowa's annual report.

Frances Barnes recalls the profound culture shock she experienced when she first arrived in Iowa three years ago.

“I had never been to the Midwest before and wasn’t prepared for how different everything was,” says the 33-year-old College of Education Rehabilitation and Counselor Education doctoral student from North Carolina. “And I mean everything—the weather, the landscape, the culture, and not seeing as many people who looked like me.”

Coming from a historically black college to a predominately white institution was a huge adjustment for Barnes, who says her mentor back at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University pushed her to make the transition.

“She said I needed the exposure and experience,” Barnes says. “And I am a true believer that experience is the best teacher. It is my belief that a person learns the most when they are unaccustomed, uncomfortable, and face mysteriousness with a desire to remove such feelings.”

Barnes isn’t alone. UI officials say that the university has made significant strides in both recruiting and retaining students across a broad spectrum of diversity.

This includes students of different ethnicities, international students, student veterans, LGBT students, students with disabilities, and first-generation students, according to UI Chief Diversity Officer Georgina Dodge—a challenge in a state that still has a small minority population overall.

Read the full story on Iowa Now