CU (System) Diversity Summit

CU Diversity Summit, Colorado Springs

Mar. 6, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

Although there are many units on campus that work on aspects of diversity and inclusion, I appointed a Cabinet Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion to identify collaborative efforts that have the highest potential for transforming our institution to make excellence inclusive.

The Subcommittee is made up of cabinet- level representatives from:

  • The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
  • Human Resources
  • Student Affairs
  • Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement
  • Chief of Staff

The subcommittee’s goals are:

  • Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment
  • Deepening our ability to engage and to understand diverse perspectives
  • Maximizing the success and inclusion of all students, staff and faculty.

These goals map to our campus Strategic Imperatives.

The strategic imperatives of CU-Boulder are:  

  • Shape Tomorrow’s Leaders
  • Be the Top University for Innovation
  • Positively Impact Humanity

Inclusive excellence is embedded in all these imperatives.

Shaping tomorrow’s leaders includes recruiting, retaining and graduating students who are committed to demonstrating honor, integrity, accountability, respect and contributions to the common good; and who understand, share and engage diverse perspectives. Campus social climate is foundational to student success and developing tomorrow’s leaders. Everyone should feel comfortable and welcome on our campus so they can reach their full potential.

Be the top university for innovation refers to serving as the nexus for innovation by facilitating collaboration and the sharing of diverse perspectives. We know the exchange of ideas and knowledge among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives is the foundation of innovation.

Positively impact humanity includes collaborating as a campus to produce graduates who apply their diverse and inclusive CU experience to make meaningful contributions to society.

Not long ago we measured our diversity goals by numbers and the numbers have gone up every year.

  • Today, the diversity of our resident freshman class – in terms of

under-represented students – mirrors Colorado’s 2016 high-school graduating class, – 34 percent – reaching a goal for our campus for the second consecutive year.

  • More than one-quarter of our new freshman class overall – 26 percent – are underrepresented domestic students.
  • One in five of our student body – undergraduate and graduate – (nearly 22 percent) are underrepresented students.

I grew up in a hard-scrabble coal and steel town with great diversity. Diversity and inclusive excellence has been a personally important goal of mine since I became Chancellor in 2009.

In that time, undergraduate diversity has increased from 15 percent to 24 percent. The six-year graduation rate for underrepresented students has increased from 59 to 66 percent. By comparison the graduation rate for white, non-Hispanic students has risen from 69 to 73 percent.

Looking at freshman to sophomore retention, underrepresented-domestic- student retention has risen from 80 to 84 percent. By comparison, for white, non-Hispanic students it has increased from 83 to 86 percent.

Minority tenured track faculty has increased over the last past 10 years from 16 to 22 percent. My 10-member cabinet – our senior leadership group –   is the most diverse we have had with six females and three from under-represented groups.

Under-represented students, staff and faculty, of course do not present a complete picture of diversity on our campuses. We value diversity in all its forms: physical, intellectual, political, geographic, age, religious preferences, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and veteran status.

While we pay attention to numbers, we also want to focus on how we treat people once they arrive on our campus. Our social climate survey results 14 months ago showed us we have work to do.

So we are deeply engaged in a comprehensive and collaborative strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusive excellence. We expect it will have a major impact on achieving our goals for student success and retention.

In this process, 95 percent of all academic and administrative units participated in discussions to develop values-based diversity and inclusion plans. Many units brought students, faculty and staff together to confer on these vital discussions.

We want to recognize the importance each of us has in shaping the culture of the campus by the way we interact with one another. Often it is the simple things we do to engage and inspire each other daily that makes the difference in shaping a culture.

My annual spring town hall a year ago was devoted solely to our campus climate and how we can create and further a culture of inclusivity. It’s also been at the heart of our semi-annual campus diversity summits.

However, dialogue about achieving a diverse and inclusive community cannot be limited to an annual or semi-annual summit but instead it must be part of our daily conversation, embedded in our campus and personal imperatives, and be a part of who we are as campuses and individuals.

Achieving an inclusive community begins with each individual’s action to reach out and connect with others. Our campuses at CU are for all people; and our campuses are some of the most diverse places in the state of Colorado.

Valuing diversity and inclusiveness in its full spectrum leads to student success, helps us develop tomorrow’s leaders, allows us to be the innovative place we want to be, and positively impacts humanity in ways big and small.

Our work together continues today. And it must be work that we do every day to achieve our goals as a community. Thank you.