By Molly Hunter
To deny people their identities is to deny them their personhood, Georgina Dodge says.
Dodge, the University of Iowa’s outgoing chief diversity officer, associate vice president, and Title IX coordinator, emphasized the belief to her friends and colleagues as she bid them farewell on the afternoon of July 20 at a reception for her at the Levitt Center.
Dodge will leave the UI for a position at Bucknell University, where she will serve as associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion and as an adjunct English professor. Today is her last day at the UI.
UI President Bruce Harreld said the occasion was bittersweet.
“[Bucknell’s] gain is going to be significant,” Harreld said. “She has been a member of our community for seven years. During those seven years, she has lifted us up so much in terms of inclusion and diversity.”
Dodge began working at the UI in July 2010; before that, she spent 14 years at Ohio State University.
Harreld said Dodge has focused on creating the support mechanisms to help first-generation college students transition to college and be successful.
“Twenty-one percent of our student body are first-generation students today,” he said. “And thanks to her, we’re committed to keeping it that way.”
The influence Dodge, a Navy veteran, has had on how the UI interacts with its veteran population has been especially noteworthy, Harreld said.
“The legacy of her thoughtful attention [to] the status of veterans in our community has made an impact on our reputation,” said Tonya Peeples, a UI professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and an associate dean for diversity and outreach. “It’s also enabled us to do some things in collaboration with specialists who work with veterans and faculty who are doing research in areas that serve the military.”
Peeples said Dodge has worked hard to create ways for faculty members to get together for workshops and training. Those spaces and groups have been a valued part of Dodge’s leadership.
“In doing diversity work, we talk a lot about challenges, and a lot of times those challenges arise because we’re dealing with people’s identities,” Dodge said. “As a natural outcome of that, we’re dealing with people’s emotions.”
Our society does not always place a lot of value on emotions, Dodge said, particularly in the workplace. But Peeples said Dodge is not one of those members of society; instead, Dodge has always stressed the importance of acknowledging identity and emotion in the workplace.
“She brought her identity into her leadership, and she taught us that identity is deeper than the visible — that there are many parts to our identity … that contribute to how we go about doing the work that we do,” Peeples said.
Dodge emphasized again the importance of giving identities and emotions space to exist, particularly in the work done in a university setting.
“To not allow emotions to be present when we’re dealing with issues of diversity, and inclusion, and identity is to deny people, because we are our emotions,” she said. “That’s what we consist of, ultimately.”
· She serves on the national board of directors for the Association of Title IX Administrators.
· During her tenure at the UI, Dodge served as the chief diversity officer, associate vice president, and Title IX coordinator.
· Before working at the UI for seven years, Dodge spent 14 years at Ohio State University, where she worked for the Office of Minority Affairs and the Department of African American and African Studies Community Center.
· Before Ohio State, she served a six-year enlistment in the Navy working as an electronics technician on communications, radar, and meteorological equipment.