The faculty, students and staff at The University of Iowa, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders are committed to dismantling structures that oppress marginalized communities. We will continue to engage in cultural responsivity in areas of research, teaching, and clinical practice by valuing what is unique in each encounter regardless of ability, age, marital or familial status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, or socioeconomic status. We commit to this journey by continuing to learn, listen, discuss, and make changes to increase and support minoritized communities in our professions.

In our process of learning, we have started understanding systems that are in place that create barriers for people with minoritized identities, including those that identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), AAPI (Asia Americans and Pacific Islanders), and LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, Other Non-Heterosexual People), as well as communities who experience economic disadvantages.   

Student Efforts

We wish to highlight our department’s outstanding student body, who are recognized as leaders in the college in promoting DEI.

  • In 2020, our students independently formed a weekly, virtual anti-racism meeting. This student-led and faculty attended meeting includes presentations, discussions, suggested readings, and specific advocacy actions.  
  • In 2021, our undergraduates obtained funding to start the TOGETHER (Targeting Our Goals for Equitable Treatment in Healthcare, Education and Research) Series. This talk series’ mission was to address the need for culturally responsive care in health professions and research to better serve underserved and marginalized populations. The virtual series accomplished this by creating a platform for diverse interdisciplinary speakers to present on topics relevant to addressing inequities in health. These presentations were conducted live to facilitate discussion and are achived to create free resources for future students, staff, and faculty.
  • In 2022, the University of Iowa Chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association created two DEI Student Liaison positions to lead initiatives and coordinate studentfaculty efforts.
  • A NSSLHA DEI student liaison meets with the faculty DEI committee regularly.

Faculty Efforts

To foster DEI within our department, the faculty gathered data from anonymous surveys from former students to understand their experiences while here. These responses and other discussions within the faculty DEI committee, have resulted in the tangible changes we highlight below.

  • In addition to the department’s faculty DEI committee, who identify issues, set goals, and lead faculty action, issues related to DEI are infused into faculty meetings through presentations and discussion (see below for examples):
    • Presentation from the writing center on how to promote transparent and equitable teaching
    • Presentation from the Universities’ DEI division on microaggressions
    • Faculty discussion about how to promote culturally responsive practice across the curriculum
    • Discussion with Student Disability Services to determine the best ways to accommodate our graduate students in the clinic
  • To ensure that DEI remains at the forefront of the department’s mission, we prioritize DEI within our department’s strategic plan:
  • To increase student body diversity, the admissions committee has established a holistic and transparent evaluation of CSD applicants.
  • To improve student preparation, two new courses were added to the MA SLP curriculum (i.e., DEI in CSD and Multilingualism and Culturally Responsive Practice in CSD), a CSD Spanish conversational group was formed, and students have access to a culturally and linguistically diverse client population in our clinic.
  • To promote diversity and inclusion within our research labs, our faculty members in CSD and Psychological and Brain Sciences collaborated with the DeLTA Center to establish the Discover, Engage, Inspire (DEI) program and Iowa Bilingualism Hub, which provides undergraduate students with underrepresented backgrounds competitive wages to participate in research.

Students and faculty strive to collaborate in achieving these goals. We realize that improving diversity and inclusion will require substantial and sustained effort, and we are committed to working together.

Additional Resources

The CSD department has a DEI committee who are available to support students. Please reach out to us: 

Philip Combiths: phiip-combiths@uiowa.edu
Krista Davidson: krista-davidson@uiowa.edu
Eileen Finnegan:
eileen-finnegan@uiowa.edu
Stephanie Fleckenstein: stephanie-fleckenstein@uiowa.edu
Kristi Hendrickson:
kristi-hendrickson@uiowa.edu
Anu Subramanian: anu-subramanian@uiowa.edu

Two of our students also serve as the DEI representative for our student organization (NSSLHA). They are:

Charlotte Hilker; charlotte-hilker@uiowa.edu
Saloni Upadhyay; saloni-upadhyay@uiowa.edu

Student, Faculty, and Alumni Organizations
Student Centers
Campus Offices and Diversity Programs
Research Training Opportunities and Scholarships

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)