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Where We Started

Tracing the long tradition of equity and inclusion at Drake University, while ever aspiring to greater community leadership in the creation of a truly diverse and welcoming campus community.



In 1881, Drake University had a modest beginning. “Its founders dreamed of an institution that was broad-based and liberally nonsectarian. To establish the educational climate in which the University would operate, they issued the following statement:

“This University has been designed upon a broad, liberal and modern basis. The articles of incorporation provide that all its departments shall be open to all without distinction of sex, religion or race. In its management and influence, it will aim at being Christian, without being sectarian.’’ From “History and Characteristics of Drake University”, 2005/06 catalog.


1881 Mrs. W. P. Macy is the 1st woman faculty member (Art Dept.)

1885 Jeu Hawk is the 1st international student (China)

1887 Simon W. Scott is the 1st student of African descent

1904 Women begin playing intramural basketball

1909 Women’s League is organized, all university women were considered members

1915 Cosmopolitan Club is founded on campus. Associated with the National Cordra Fratris Association, their motto is “Above All Nations Is Humanity.” The club is composed of an equal number of foreign-born and American born students. Inter-racial problems are studied and discussed.

1923 Maude Humphrey (class of ‘26) wins National Collegiate Record for women’s basketball throw and is inducted into the Girl’s “D” Club.

1935 Jesse Owens runs for Ohio State in the Drake Relays

1943 Drake’s student newspaper, the Times-Delphic, runs a formal protest against an Iowa Legislature resolution asking the Federal Government to not award a college education to Japanese-American students.

1946 Drake, along with Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, introduces desegregated dormitories, years ahead of many institutions across the nation.

1951 Drake withdraws from the Missouri Valley Conference due to lack of response from the MVC to take action regarding the racially-motivated Johnny Bright incident (football)

1951 Hawaiian Club is founded, open to all students interested in the organization

1953 Eleanor Roosevelt speaks on human rights (Oct. 5)

1957 Dr. Eddie V. Easley becomes the 1st African American faculty member

1959 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King speaks at the University Christian Church

1961 Olympian, Wilma Rudolph wins the first-ever female race at the Drake Relays

1963 Official anti-discrimination regulations at Drake approved by Faculty Senate

1963 First meeting of the Drake Council on Human Rights is held

1964 Drake student, Patti Miller (class of 1965) participates in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project.

1966 Motherhood Resolution passes Faculty Senate – an amendment calling Drake Health Services to distribute birth control information and devices to all students, faculty, and staff who request them

1968 Sororities extend “Rush” beyond white students

1969 Charles E. Sims is appointed the first Minorities Student Advisor and establishes the Black Cultural Center

1969 Drake’s Air Force ROTC names its first woman commander, Kathy Brittin

1969 Open Dorm policy passes Faculty Senate

1971 Drake Women’s Center chartered

1974 Kathryn Graf becomes the 1st female Student Body President

1980s Drake non-discrimination policy amended to also address sexual harassment

1983 Human Rights Day on campus

1990 Student groups: DUAL (Drake University Alternative Lifestyles) and SELF (Students for Equality, Liberation, and Feminism) founded on campus

1992 Disability Resource Center founded on campus

1993 DUAL is renamed BGLAD (Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Alliance at Drake)

1994 Drake’s Board of Governors approves the Policy on Accommodating Students with Disabilities

1995 BGLAD sponsors campus activities for National Coming Out Day

2003 University-wide Diversity Audit submitted by Myrna Adams, JD; J. Herman Blake, Ph.D.; Albert Ramirez, PhD

2010 Provost Ron Troyer formed the Working Group for the Infusion of Global & Multicultural Understanding (WGIGMU), to ensure Drake's continued to focus on domestic diversity alongside Drake's increasing development of efforts focused on internationalization

2013 WGIGMU facilitated bringing Michele Norris, National Public Radio (NPR) host, and “The Race Card Project” to campus. The Race Card Project encourages people to share their thoughts about race, ethnicity and cultural identity. The event was free and open to the public.

2013 The Crew Scholars Program is founded by Melisa Klimaszewski and William Z. Hatchet. Crew Scholars is a group of students of color working together to support each other’s success, academic excellence, and leadership growth.

2013 The Quality Initiative was submitted to the Higher Learning Commission by Renee Cramer, Ph.D.; Michael Couvillion, Ph.D.; and Melissa Sturm-Smith, Ph.D. The Initiative was designed “to alter the university culture to ensure that people of all races and ethnicities find a welcoming and supportive environment at Drake University, and concomitantly to increase racial and ethnic diversity among Drake students, faculty and staff.”

2015 Drake University no longer requires applicants to submit a standardized test score to be considered for admission to the university. This policy is called the Test Flexible policy.

2015 The Strategic Diversity Action Team (SDAT) was formed, composed of faculty, staff, students, and administrators from across campus to address issues of diversity on campus

2015 Campus Climate Assessment conducted assessing the living, working, and classroom environment for all members of campus

2016 Created Equity and Inclusion statement and commitment

2016 Alumni Office creates LGBTQ+ and allies alumni advisory board

2016 UNITY Roundtable (the governing body of multicultural student organizations) officially recognized

2016 Flight Program founded. Flight is focused on the experiences of the incoming, first year, students of color to support connects and success

2016 Director of Student Engagement, Equity, and Inclusion position created in the Division of Student Affairs

2016 Added gender identity and expression, genetic information and veteran status to the Non-discrimination policy

2016 UNITY Roundtable is officially recognized as a registered student organization and governing body for the multicultural student organizations

2017 Disability Action Awareness Community student organization is recognized as a registered student organization

2017 Associate Provost for Campus Equity and Inclusion position created in the Provost’s Office

2017 Students are able to submit a preferred first name to the university that allows a student’s chosen first name to appear on class and residence hall rosters, student ID’s and other public-facing lists. This is called the Preferred First Name System.

2018 Student Equity Action Partners, a registered student organization devoted to advocating for equity and inclusion on campus is founded

2019 Drake LGBTQ alumni and allies advisory board organizes a Drake float in the Des Moines LGBTQ+ Pride parade for the first time

2019 All incoming new students participate in online Equity & Inclusion tutorials

2019 Peggy Fisher named first woman chair of the Board of Trustees, the university's governing board

2020 Alumni Office creates Black Alumni Association


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