The Building Community Initiative emerged from a series of meaningful dialogue sessions held in the College of Education in 2015 to give voice and context to the growing tensions around a variety of social issues around the world that also immediately impact the climate of the College of Education at the University of Iowa. During these town hall style meetings, then Dean Nicholas Colangelo charged the participants with thinking critically about leveraging differences around race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and other social distinctions to build a strong community within the college.

Under the leadership of Dean Daniel Clay, the College of Education continues its commitment to building a strong community across difference. The Building Community Initiative continues this work through a variety of activities and events including the Building Community Reads project, the Dean’s Speaker Series and act as a central place for communication of diversity-related events. The Building Community Initiative is committed to exploring the theme of Power and Privilege through the 2016-2018 academic years through various programs. If you are interested in joining us in this work please contact us:

Dr. Sherry K. Watt, Co-Chair, & William Coghill-Behrends, Co-Chair
Dr. Dan Clay, Dean

Mission, Goals, and Purpose

The Building Community Initiative is collaborative effort between active committees and groups that focus explicitly on creating a supportive, inclusive, and safe environment for everyone within the College of Education.


Sherry Watt (co-chair), Will Coghill-Behrends (co-chair), Amanda Thein, Amy Bennett, Robert Posekany, Jason Harshman, Renita Schmidt, Jean Finley, Nancy Langguth, Mei-Ling Shaw-Williams, Chris Annicella, Janice Byrd, Elizabeth Holm, Marius Kothor

If you are interested in becoming a member of the group, send an email to either of the co-chairs.


The Building Community Committee meets monthly throughout the academic school year and coordinates several events in partnership with other groups on campus.


Building Community Reads Project