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 Tuesday, August 28, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Diversity makes us better

A new fall semester is beginning, and so is a new era of diversity at the University of Colorado at Boulder. One of the emerging themes from our strategic planning process, Flagship 2030, is to "Bring CU to the World and Bring the World to CU." Early indications of the demographic profile of the Class of 2011 indicate that we are doing just that.

This fall's freshman class builds on last year's record class for size, qualifications, and ethnic and global diversity. With 58 percent of the freshmen class from Colorado, we continue to attract many of the most talented students from across the state, but we are adding to this some remarkable students from around the world. Students from traditionally under-represented backgrounds represent just over 15 percent of all confirmations – the same percentage as in 2006. While the number of minority confirmations is slightly lower at 922 in 2007 compared to 940 in 2006, the number of confirmed African-American freshmen has increased by nearly 25 percent over this time last year. Asian-Americans have remained constant and other minority numbers, for Hispanics and American Indians, have decreased slightly. With 116 freshmen from 33 different countries, our international student population underscores our commitment to global talent development and diversity.

Added to all of this, I am pleased to welcome to the campus our new Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, Dr. Sallye McKee. Dr. McKee's arrival on campus from Metropolitan State College in Denver is really more of a homecoming. She worked here at CU 1993-1996 and helped to develop a number of programs to promote academic excellence for minority students. She has also served in diversity posts at East Carolina University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Denver, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

At Metro, Dr. McKee developed the first campus office to enhance diversity, with a special emphasis on faculty recruitment and retention and improving the climate on campus. She also laid the groundwork to help Metro State be designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution. She worked with Metro State's Office of Academic Affairs and other campus entities to enhance the Target Opportunity Program, which was designed to increase diversity among the faculty. She helped Metro to expand funding for the Diversity Initiatives Program, coordinated with campus departments to develop a campus climate project for improving the professional relationships between male and female employees in the Division of Information Technology, and worked with campus offices to design a pilot project to launch multidisciplinary learning communities.

Beyond Dr. McKee's considerable qualifications, I have been personally touched by her warmth, enthusiasm and vision for what we can achieve in diversity here at CU. She embraces, as I do, a broad conception of diversity that includes many aspects, including ethnic, gender, geographic/socio-economic and intellectual diversity. She believes in the strengthening of diverse communities, the balance of diversity with free speech and open inquiry, and diversity as a value to be embraced and elevated, not a requirement to be harshly enforced and unimaginatively applied.

My vision for the future is to ensure that diversity is permanently "at the table" and as a member of the senior leadership team to ask Dr. McKee to help us integrate diversity as a core value in our decision making processes and place it firmly in the day-to-day business of the University. I have asked her to work closely with Provost Phil DiStefano, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Ron Stump and Vice Chancellor for Administration Paul Tabolt and other members of the senior leadership team to find areas of innovation and application for diversity. I have asked her to help us build more lasting and effective relationships with communities of color in Boulder, Denver and throughout Colorado, and in the spirit of her title, to engage these communities in new, effective and dynamic ways.

I want each of you to know that I see Dr. McKee playing a key role alongside the many faculty, staff and students here at CU who are doing the heavy lifting on diversity every day in our community. Her work will complement this myriad of efforts, and her leadership will advance the best of our innovations, which are many, while helping us direct resources where they are most needed. As this work begins, I want to invite you to introduce yourselves to Dr. McKee, and to be a resource to her and for the campus as she begins her important work. I feel quite certain that when you meet her you will be won over by her winning smile, her personal warmth and magnetism and her inclusive vision for diversity, just as I have been.

So as we welcome Dr. Sallye McKee, please know that each of you have my best wishes for an exciting and productive academic year. As our students return to campus and settle into their routines, the spirit of renewal is all around us. I want to challenge each of you and our entire campus community to renew your commitment to diversity, and to continue to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. Combining our life experiences, cultural backgrounds and intellectual achievements will make us better university citizens, better scholars and better people. I know that by working together we can continue to elevate CU to new heights of scholarship and teaching, and just as important, to new heights of shared humanity.

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