Published: Aug. 25, 2014

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to campus for the new academic year.

One of our greatest assets is that we share a campus characterized by diversity in all its forms. This gives us the opportunity to learn, both in and out of the classroom, from our many perspectives, cultures and backgrounds.

With that comes the responsibility of maintaining a safe, welcoming and inclusive campus. I’d like to take a minute to talk about our campus climate and a series of actions we will be taking at CU-Boulder to improve it.

In recent years, students, faculty and staff have reported to us that our campus is falling short of that responsibility.

We have received feedback that many have observed insensitive comments and questions by students directed at their diverse peers based upon their differences. Occasionally, students have also experienced being singled out in class by some faculty, intentionally or unintentionally, as representatives of their race, ethnicity, politics, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

These incidents diminish the ability of our entire student body to fully take part in our learning community.

Added to these are issues of gender equality and discrimination on campus. As many of you know, there is a national call to make our campuses safer and for better enforcement of Title IX, which requires equal access to education and governs discrimination and harassment prevention.

While many in our community are committed to creating and maintaining a positive environment on campus, we have more work to do.

This fall you’re going to hear from the combined leadership of the campus on the steps we are taking to improve our culture and climate, and we will be calling on you to be an active participant.  

In the coming weeks, in CU-Boulder Today, our new Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance & Title IX Coordinator, Valerie Simons, will update you on our new, unified approach to preventing discrimination and harassment, including making improvements in reporting and investigating, educating our campus, and providing support to victims.

Later, you will hear from the Provost, Russ Moore, the Boulder Faculty Assembly and student government on the symposia that will be held this fall on academic freedom, faculty rights and responsibilities, and classroom and campus climate.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Deb Coffin, will update you on the progress we will make this year in crafting a diversity plan for the campus.

I cannot stress enough how vital and necessary your participation is in transforming our campus climate and culture. As events around the country this year have shown, we have work to do as a people, and a nation, to ensure America’s promise of freedom and justice is delivered to everyone.

As our new academic year begins, I am asking that we join together to make real and lasting progress in delivering on that promise right here in our own campus community.

Working together, we can make CU-Boulder a model for universities across the nation in creating a vibrant and engaging environment for all.

In that spirit, let me offer you my best wishes for a great year ahead.  

Thank you.