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 Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Thoughts on lessons to be explored in our campus journey toward embracing inclusive excellence
Sallye McKee, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement

Over the past few years CU-Boulder has embarked on the task of reframing our diversity agenda to include the important principle that human diversity is inextricably linked to institutional excellence. This means that we continue to track and report outstanding facts and accomplishments.

For instance, in fall 2008 we enrolled one of our best qualified and most diverse freshman classes three years running with 16 percent students of color – or 931, an all-time high – a 21 percent increase over fall 2006 and 60 more than fall 2007. And 1,000 members of the fall 2008 freshman class are first-generation college students. A total of 4,328 first-generation undergraduates are enrolled as of fall 2008. A total enrollment of 15 percent of minority students places us 6th among Big 12 peers and 21st among 34 AAU public university peers. (AAU figures exclude Asian American enrollment in this calculation.)

We recognize that these numerical benchmarks are necessary to reflect our progress toward access but not sufficient conditions for building a campus culture that will foster and sustain diversity that is owned and shared through lived experiences of our community members. Simply put, our reframe from diversity by the numbers to institutional excellence (IE) pushes us to ask, "What is the role of the 84 percent of CU-Boulder students and the greater percentage of faculty in ensuring that our campus honors strategies that compel us to work together to achieve social justice and academic excellence?"

Over the past several months Alphonse Keasley, our new assistant vice chancellor for Campus Climate and Community Engagement, worked with planning committee co-chairs Michelle Trevino and Stephanie Wilenchek and a dedicated volunteer group of campus experts who serve on the four Chancellor's Advisory Committees to plan the 14th Annual Diversity Summit. The overall goal of this year's summit was to provide a diverse set of interactive learning experiences in which faculty, staff, students and community partners could rethink 21st century approaches to how we reinforce our campus core value of diversity (see Flagship 2030 core initiative # 7). During the planning phase, the planning committee enlisted co-sponsorship of sessions from diverse stakeholder groups with the goal ensuring broader participation across many representations of campus diversity.

Recently, AVC Keasley and I met to discuss a preliminary review of responses and comments from the over 200 respondents who took time to share their anonymous review of diverse topics that ranged from perspectives of international faculty and GLBT people to pragmatic steps to help us achieve inclusive excellence. Most of this year's respondents to the individual evaluation questionnaires self-identified as staff, students and community attendees.

We realize that faculty are key advocates as we explore and initiate strategies to enhance campus climate. Consequently, we have an important goal for next year's summit. Beginning now we will ask key faculty allies how we might best elicit faculty expertise and participation in the Diversity Summits from across the 79 academic departments on campus.

Preliminary findings suggest that overall, attendees enjoyed the summit and look forward to intensive collaboration to build stronger and more effective social networks, advancing campus diversity toward a new paradigm of shared responsibility across minority and majority groups on campus. More specifically, these observations and goals include:

  • Learning more about the inclusive excellence paradigm as an institutional framework for accomplishing our diversity goals. (See the AAC&U website.)
  • Learning more from faculty of international backgrounds and multicultural graduate students who can help to shape the campus climate as it relates to global diversity challenges.
  • During the Interactive Theater Project session, students, staff and faculty acted out thoughtful responses to vignettes of potential micro aggressive behaviors that deter campus civility.
  • Several attendees suggested that as a campus we need to deliberately begin a campus-wide campaign to improve civility.
  • Faculty, staff and students built shared knowledge of the importance of understanding multiple identities such as GLBTQ and religious identity, the relationship between Green and social justice issues, the role of technology in universal design, greater awareness about how unconscious experiences shape our belief systems, and effective bystander behaviors to exhibit in the face of bigotry.
  • Identify habits we must break as we work together to build on the social justice model of human diversity as the foundation for promoting inclusive excellence for all.

Our leadership within ODECE will work with faculty, students, staff, alumni and parents to expand our base of advocates, allies and friends. Toward that end we extend an invitation to join the planning committee for an active critique of the conference as we begin plans for next year's special 15th Annual Diversity Summit.

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