Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Above all, St. Ambrose University as a Catholic institution believes in the inherent God-given dignity and worth of every individual.

As stated in our Mission and Core Values, we affirm that St. Ambrose University seeks to enable all of its students to develop intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically, and physically to enrich their own lives and the lives of others.

Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
St. Ambrose University commits to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion as core priorities as demonstrated by the intentional design of policies, procedures, resource allocations, and practices that respect the God-given dignity and worth of every individual in pursuit of social justice. Inspired by Catholic social teaching, we resolve to foster an environment designed to dismantle all discrimination, whether based on sex, gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, color, ability, language, religion, or socioeconomic status.

Also see: Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Report an Incident of Bias/Hate Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (SDEI)

Definitions and Commitments

Diversity is a feature of God's creation and enriches the lives of our communities and world. To honor this diversity, we seek understanding and strive to respect the unique differences of each individual. We commit to creating a campus culture willing to explore and respect the multiplicity of identities, perspectives, and beliefs in our evolving, diverse world.

An Equity framework acknowledges the historical and persistent barriers that certain individuals face and offers them what they need to succeed and thrive. We acknowledge and remain unapologetically responsive to the numerous ways in which social or cultural injustice impede or propel student and employee success. To ensure personal and institutional accountability, we commit to actively pursue initiatives that further social justice causes on campus and in society.

Inclusion is achieved when every individual feels a sense of belonging. To this end, St. Ambrose students, employees, and service partners commit to a campus community where diverse perspectives and populations are welcomed and honored.

Supporting a Diverse Campus

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship

Freeman Pollard, Ph.D. was the first African-American professor at St. Ambrose University, but education was actually Dr. Pollard's second career. Before beginning his pursuit of higher education he was employed with the U.S. Postal Service for more than 20 years, during which time he was actively engaged in the Civil Rights movement and community action programs such as voter registration, and work with juvenile delinquents and unwed mothers.

During his career at St. Ambrose, Dr. Pollard served as chair of the political science department and was the first director of the public administration program. His areas of academic specialization included American government and politics, public policy, law and administration, and environmental policy.

While at St. Ambrose, Dr. Pollard was also active in community affairs, serving for a time as a commissioner and chair of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission. He received numerous honors and awards for his academic and community work.

In 1988, St. Ambrose established a minority scholarship program in Dr. Pollard's name. The Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship is an integral element in the ongoing development of a campus community that reflects the reality of a global society.

Click here to support the Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship

Minority Alumni Advisory Council

The Advisory Council for Minority Engagement is a prominent group of St. Ambrose University alumni and friends committed to the University's Core Value of Diversity.

Council members utilize their skills, knowledge, and experience to provide advice and counsel to members of the Cabinet, the Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and SAU academic and non-academic programs.

This Council consists of about a dozen SAU alumni who exemplify a cross-section of proven success and leadership within their chosen career fields. Members are invited to serve a three-year term, which may be renewed once.

Email diversity@sau.edu for more information on the Minority Alumni Advisory Council.

Accessibility Resource Center (ARC)

Students with disabilities may use a variety of services offered by the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC).

The first goal of ARC is to provide qualified students with disabilities services or reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, or modifications intended to reduce the effects that a disability may have on their performance in a traditional academic setting. Services do not lower course standards or alter degree requirements, but instead give students a better chance to demonstrate their academic abilities.

The second goal is to assist students with disabilities in developing learning strategies to compensate for the effects of their disability and to become independent learners.

Email ARC@sau.edu for more information on ARC resources and accommodations

Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (SDEI) promotes educational, cultural, and social growth of all Ambrosians and fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment.

This office also coordinates campus-wide programs and events designed to create awareness, knowledge, and vital skills for leadership development and for working effectively with diverse perspectives and populations.

Learn more about the SDEI Office

Graduation Requirement

Beginning in 2022, students are required to complete two courses designated as DEI, as identified by the DEI Committee.

Courses designated DEI1 serve to foster a sense of cultural understanding and equity, and courses designated DEI2 equip students to effectively respond to discrimination experienced by marginalized populations. Together these courses demonstrate the St. Ambrose core values of diversity and social justice.

Annual Celebrations

DEI at St. Ambrose University encourages annual programming designed to foster an environment that dismantles all discrimination, whether based on sex, gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity, color, ability, language, religion, or socioeconomic status.

We recognize that in order to connect with someone different, it is critical to be grounded in one's own culture, history, and traditions. Understanding what is important to our own community increases affinity for a differing community.

In addition to the events below, each Commencement ceremony includes minority students wearing a cultural or ethnic stole.

MLK Day (3rd Monday in January)

MLK Day became a federal holiday in 1983 in order to honor the achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Known as an activist, humanitarian, and leader in the modern Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi.

On April 28, 1965, Dr. King received the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council's Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. This was Dr. King's one and only visit to Davenport, IA.

Civil Rights Week (end of January)

Join us for Civil Rights Week, January 23-27, 2023.

The annual Civil Rights Week Celebration outlines the significant role St. Ambrose University played in the local civil rights movement. Since St. Ambrose was founded in 1882, its students, faculty, staff, and leadership have advocated for those who did not have equal opportunities due to racism, poverty and lack of education.

A (Very) Brief History of SAU Supporting Civil Rights

  • In 1947, SAU became the first Catholic campus to establish a NAACP Chapter.
  • In 1951, the campus expanded its efforts and established the League for Social Justice.
  • In 1958, the Catholic Interracial Council was launched as the successor organization to the league.
  • In 1964, The Diocese of Davenport created the "Pacem In Terris" Peace and Freedom Award. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was its third recipient.

The annual March to Remember typically kicks off the week which is a silent walk through campus or to one of the eight City of Davenport civil rights markers. The march to remember provides the opportunity to reflection of the Universities past and various trainings, workshops, and events are planned to identify the many ways SAU remains connected and active in social justice initiatives today.

Multicultural House

Located at 411 W. Locust St. (near Ripley and Locust), the Multicultural House is a campus-wide resource that facilitates and promotes a learning community of multicultural understanding and exchange through collaboration, dialogue, and action.

Learn more about the Multicultural House

Diversity Work Group

About the Work Group

The Diversity Work Group - comprised of faculty and staff - was developed out of the Diversity Task Force in 2006. 

The primary function of this work group is to create a strategic plan as it relates to diversity initiatives on the campus of St. Ambrose University.

Responding to the vision created by the Diversity statement, this working group has energized a focus on weaving diverse perspectives into the fabric of St. Ambrose.


  • Jim Collins, alumni
  • Judy Correa Kaiser, PhD, faculty
  • Steve Finn, Sodexo
  • Sara Fredricksen, staff
  • Paul Koch, PhD, Chair, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Thomas Mason, alumni
  • Regina Matheson, PhD, faculty/staff
  • Dick Robertson, EdD, faculty
  • Christopher Waugh, Dean of Students
  • Arun Pillutla, PhD, faculty
  • Lisa Powell, PhD, faculty
  • Caroline Rasmussen, Sodexo
  • Ryan Saddler, staff

Decade of Diversity


In the spring of 2010, alumnus Jim Collins developed the Decade of Diversity, a document to capture pragmatic steps to enhance the St. Ambrose University stated value of diversity. Using the Diversity Work Group (DWG) strategic priorities, 101 initiatives were generated to guide campus initiative for a 10-year period for the purpose of creating a vision for our efforts.

Here are highlights of what we have accomplished that address some of the 101 items in the Decade of Diversity:

  • The second annual Freeman Pollard Scholarship Breakfast was March 21, 2013. Current fundraising to date has exceeded $50,000 (DD Goal 1).
  • The sign project to recognize Marquette Boulevard, designated by the city as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Parkway, was completed in August 2012, with the installation of the final of 55 signs placed at each intersection.
  • St. Ambrose provided a minority student orientation August 18-19, 2012, with 26 students committed to the 2-day program. Local alumni, faculty and staff supported what will become an annual event (DD Goal 4).
  • DWG representatives are hosting student focus groups to better understand what the diverse student experience is and what initiatives might better support diverse student persistence to graduation.
  • A DWG sub-committee is currently assessing the amount of diverse material infused in the curriculum to then consider recommendations for how to further shape the curriculum (DD Goals 7-11).
  • The Alumni Association designated two individuals to serve in a liaison capacity with the DWG and donated $1,000 to the Freeman Pollard Scholarship Endowment Fund (DD Goals 5 and 6).
  • St. Ambrose admissions staff has expanded focus into markets such as Milwaukee, St. Louis, Chicago, and Puerto Rico with a focus on school districts that will yield a higher level of diverse student identities (DD Goal 16).
  • The DWG and human resources staff are exploring and implementing current hiring practices that might yield a faculty and staff composite that is reflective of the Quad Cities Area diversity composite with respect to diverse identities (DD Goal 17).
  • The College of Arts & Sciences annual theme for the 2012-13 academic year was Race Matters and was highlighted with a presentations by Cornel West, Joe Feagin, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Callie Crossley, and Bryan Massingale (DD Goal 28).
Honorary SAU Doctorates Awarded to Minorities

Charles W. Toney, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 1975
The first African American student to attend St. Ambrose in 1932, he spent his life preaching, practicing and enforcing the gospel of social justice, equality and civil rights. He rose from the first black welder in a John Deere factory to the first black John Deere senior executive as Director of Affirmative Action.

With too many recognitions and honors to be recorded here, however, he is recognized in a permanent exhibit at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids and was inducted into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame for his pioneering mission to raise a greater degree of inter-racial and inter-cultural understanding and appreciation, and that equal opportunity would become a reality for all people.

E.D. Nixon, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities, 1981
Nixon, often called the "father of the civil rights movement," engineered the 1955 Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, which subsequently led Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the forefront of the civil rights movement nationally. In February 1981, Nixon was invited to speak at SAU Black History Month activities by Professor Freeman Pollard, Advisor of the Black Student Union. He gave a lecture on the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Gwendolyn Brooks, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities, 1990
One of the most prolific and respected of America's writers had proven herself a major force within the American artistic tradition, enriching black, white and other cultures with her revealing and challenging writings. She became the first black writer to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize for her poetry writings of 1950. She was also Illinois' Poet Laureat in 1968.

Her 50+ year career includes numerous testimonials and recognitions on her behalf; perhaps the most significant being the Frost Medal, the highest honor the Poetry Society of America can bestow on one of its own.

Shen Tong, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 1991
As a 20-year-old, he was at the center of the student pro-democracy movement which culminated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre where he led a brilliant, passionate and unbending stance in behalf of freedom and democracy for the citizens of China.

As an ardent advocate of nonviolence and in an effort to keep alive the flame of hope, Shen wrote a book, Almost A Revolution, an insider's record of the ideals of the rebellion in his homeland.

Andrew Young, Jr., Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 1992
Mr. Young was awarded in recognition of a lifetime of dedication in helping others to better their own lives and to become involved in solving the world's problems.

Motivated by and well-educated in his Christian beliefs, Young has served many posts:

  • pastor
  • Associate Director of the Department of Youth Work for the National Council of Churches
  • top aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • U.S. Congressman
  • US Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Mayor of the City of Atlanta

Too many recognitions and honors to account here, but he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award. He has received more than 35 honorary degrees and the French Legion d'Honneur Award.

Lametta K. Wynn, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 1999
Wynn was the first female African American mayor in Clinton, Iowa. As a result, she has created a legacy of public service in her commitment to the citizens and especially the students of Iowa. Her positive and progressive leadership has made impact in many areas, but her commitment to learning is a high reason for her honorary recognition.

Her longtime involvement in school board work has helped make quality education a reality for all students. She has been a pioneer in Iowa educational and governmental leadership.

Michael Cervantes, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 2000
Awarded in recognition of his devotion to the enrichment of the people of the Quad Cites and the larger Midwest regional area.

Cervantes is a founding member of the Quad Cities Mexican American Organization and was also in leadership roles in various other civic, church and community organizations including, but not limited to the following: St. Mary's Parish Council, QC Times Plus 60 Club Board and earned recognition / distinction for his service during WW II with General Patton's Third Army.

Ida Johnson, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service, 2003
In recognition of her over 40 years of public service to those in need.

As the founder of the inner-city service program United Neighbors, she provided leadership and an unwavering commitment to individuals, families, civic, and community organizations toward realizing community betterment.

Leonard Cervantes, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law, 2005
Awarded in recognition of his many years of dedication to the cause of law and justice, youth development and civil rights.

He has provided able leadership in the Quad Cities and in his now-home base and law firm home of St. Louis.

He serves on many leadership boards and community initiatives including, but not limited to, the following: St. Ambrose University Board of Trustees and the Lawyers Association of St. Louis.

Clyde Mayfield, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, 2008
Awarded in recognition of his advocacy of education and youth in the Quad Cities.

Having served on the Davenport Community Schools District Board for several years, one of the first black firefighters of City of Davenport, small business owner in the central inner-city neighborhood, and serving on many civic and community service, development and civil rights organizations, shows his lifetime commitment to community and service.

Sr. Barbara J. Moore, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, 2013
In recognition of her remarkable life and career as a civil rights activist, nurse, and educator.

Sr. Barbara has spent her adult life working for the poor and disadvantaged while also advancing the causes of healthcare and healthcare education. She serves as director on numerous boards and organizations.

Our People


Ryan Saddler, Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Director, Accessibility Resource Center

Fritz Dieudonné
Student Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator

Paul Koch, PhD
Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

Christopher Waugh, PhD
Dean of Students


Ryan Saddler, Assoc. Vice President

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Kreiter Hall
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

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