Academic Support and Retention Statement on Racial Injustice and Systemic Change

Black Americans have a long history of being a target of oppression, hate crimes, and violent acts because of their race.  The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and George Floyd highlight the continued violence on Black Americans, and racism towards Black people. We know as a predominately white office at a Predominately White Institution (PWI), it is not enough to be 'not racist' - we must actively and boldly be anti-racist. We have not done enough in this area and are committed to doing better. Black students, staff, and faculty are impacted daily by the racist inequities of higher education, and as a staff committed to excellence and student success, we must work for and with our community to seek justice and equity.

The intent of this post is not performative allyship, but an expression of our values and commitment to our community(ies) to work toward anti-racism and liberation for Black people. Our goal is to align our actions with our values and be held accountable for our work by our community(ies).

Our staff is committed to:

  • Working for and with Black faculty, staff, and students on institutional issues related to belonging, inclusion, and equity in order to improve their overall experiences at the University of Iowa.
  • Engaging in continuous learning and professional development, including, but not limited to, each member: reading books and other literature related to anti-racism; engaging in workshops within our campus community and actively working toward systemic change as a result; and seeking out, listening to, and acting when Black stories are shared.
  • Calling attention to, challenging, and changing inequities within higher education, with intentional focus on strengthening campus-wide efforts surrounding student outreach and support, promoting inclusive strategies for gateway courses, and closing opportunity gaps in persistence and degree attainment.

In Solidarity,

The Academic Support & Retention Staff
Dr. Mirra Anson, Director

Danielle Martinez, Associate Director

Stephanie Preschel, Associate Director

Angie Lamb, Assistant Director

Stephanie Huntington, Assistant Director

Dusty Persinger, Coordinator
Amalia Riordan, Coordinator

Samantha Flores, Academic Specialist 

Lisa Von Muenster, Administrative Services Coordinator

and Graduate & Student Staff

Welcome to the University of Iowa's GEAR UP Iowa College Partner Grant Project!

The Center for Diversity and Enrichment and Academic Support and Retention are collaborating with campus partners to create and facilitate multiple interventions and supports for GEAR UP 2.0 students who attend The University of Iowa in Fall 2020. Each component of the plan is specifically designed to result in increased persistence and completion rates among the University's incoming GEAR UP population. This comprehensive, research-based initiative also aligns with GEAR UP Iowa's goals to create a seamless education system and support students as they plan, prepare for, and transition to college. All anticipated services integrate evidence-based interventions: summer bridge programming; learning communities with embedded academic support; academic skill building and social integration though peer-mentoring, academic coaching, and community building; parent and family engagement; and utilization of student success analytics to monitor students' progress and intervene at key points throughout the academic year. Also unique to our initiative is the coupling of course work in rhetoric and psychological science, which will facilitate the development of critical cognitive skills, including metacognitive reflection, in GEAR UP 2.0 participants.

Here are a few things that GEAR UP Iowa students can expect in their 2020 - 2021 academic year.
(see below or review our March 3rd webinar)

**UPDATED** Summer Bridge Program:  

Get a head start on your fall semester! All admitted GEAR UP students will join us for a virtual bridge program throughout the month of July. Beginning July 1, students will access a variety of live (online) and recorded academic workshops specifically designed to help you succeed in your fall classes. And engaged participants will receive a textbook stipend to the Iowa Book store! Registration and additional information for this program is available on the Summer Bridge Program page.

Learning Communities and Peer Mentoring:

GEAR UP students have been learning together since 7th grade, and that tradition will continue in your first year as a Hawkeye! You will have multiple opportunities to take classes together throughout the year and participate in learning experiences with other students who share your academic goals. In addition, all GEAR UP students will be assigned a peer mentor who is committed to your success and specially trained to help you navigate the college transition process and feel more connected to campus. Peer mentors will also have a key role in learning communities and attend the same GEAR UP learning community class as their mentees.

NOTE: GEAR UP Students will take Rhetoric together in the fall session.

Parent and Family Engagement:

We’re excited to welcome you and your family to the Hawkeye community! Your parents and families may not be coming to Iowa City with you, but they are still an important part of your collegiate experience and we’ve got lots of great things planned to help us all stay connected.

Academic Coaches:

Teamwork makes the dream work! At the University of Iowa, you will have an entire network of faculty and staff working together to help you succeed. One aspect of this network includes individualized academic coaching. All GEAR UP students will be assigned a personal academic coach who will meet with you in small groups and one-on-one throughout the year. Your academic coach will help improve your study skills, examine ways to address academic concerns, and serve as an excellent resource and source of support for you.


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