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Release: May 15, 2002

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UI appoints experienced diversity leader as new director of affirmative action

The University of Iowa has hired Charlotte F. Westerhaus as assistant to the president, director of affirmative action, and ADA coordinator effective June 1. She will take over for Jennifer Modestou, who has been serving as interim director since the departure of former director Susan Mask in June 2001.

Westerhaus was selected after a nationwide search led by Sue Buckley, interim associate vice president and director of human resources, and a committee of 11 additional UI faculty, staff and students. Westerhaus will be responsible for heading the UI's compliance with affirmative action, equal opportunity laws and civil rights laws and policies. She will report directly to UI President Mary Sue Coleman and will be part of the university's senior leadership team. Her annual salary will be $110,000.

Buckley said Westerhaus received unanimous support from the search committee and from everyone she met with on campus during the interview process.

"She inspires confidence," Buckley said. "She seems to have an outstanding ability to motivate and inspire others. We believe she will bring a clear and very positive vision to the campus regarding affirmative action and diversity."

Westerhaus comes to the UI from Rockwell Collins, where she has been manager of diversity and equal employment opportunity since May 2001. She was director of affirmative action at Purdue University from 1998-2001 and assistant to the chancellor for equity and diversity at the University of Wisconsin—Parkside from 1996-1998. Before that she worked for four years as an attorney. She has also worked in student services, as assistant dean of students for residence life and judicial affairs at Pomona College from 1987-1989 and as community development coordinator for the University of California—Davis from 1986-1987. She holds a J.D. from Indiana University and a M.Ed. and a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

"It's like coming home, but to a bigger house," Westerhaus said about rejoining an academic community. "There are some challenges ahead, but I can tell that the top-caliber staff assembled by Susan Mask is ready to face them. The University of Iowa has a rich history of diversity and affirmative, positive action for minorities, females, and everyone on campus. I am confident that we can maintain that through the progressive, visionary leadership of the university administration from President Coleman to the vice-presidents, deans, faculty and staff leaders."

Coleman said she was pleased with the search committee's commitment to finding an experienced leader like Westerhaus.

"Charlotte Westerhaus has been dedicated to supporting diversity within higher education for many years, and we are fortunate to have someone with her skills and expertise to lead our team of talented professionals in the affirmative action office," she said.

Westerhaus will be responsible for preparing the UI affirmative action plan and monitoring plan compliance and other initiatives. She will oversee the investigation of and response to internal and external complaints of discrimination and harassment. She will monitor hiring and search efforts; coordinate compliance with disability and equity laws and policies; and coordinate and provide training and outreach programs throughout the UI on such topics as sexual harassment, ADA, and diversity. Other duties of the director include advising the president and UI officials on policy issues affecting affirmative action, civil rights, equal opportunity and diversity, and working collaboratively with the UI general counsel.