Welcome. This is our 17th annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit on the Boulder campus.

This year we are pleased to be hosting the City of Boulder and the University of Colorado System in this important dialogue over the next three days.

I would like to thank the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, Interim Vice Chancellor Robert Boswell, and Assistant Vice Chancellor Alphonse Keasley, for their work in coordinating this vital conversation.

I also would like to acknowledge the work of the Chancellor’s five standing advisory committees.

  • The Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Minority Affairs
  • The Chancellor's Committee on Women
  • The Program Accessibility Committee
  • The Standing Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues
  • And the Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Board

Let me start by acknowledging diversity gains in our incoming class over each of the last two years.  

  • Over the last two years 19 and 20 percent of our new incoming freshmen have classified themselves as diverse, based on race and ethnicity.
  • This fall, 1,141 freshmen classified themselves as diverse.
  • 1 in 5 freshmen this fall are first-generation students.

We are coming close to reflecting our state in racial and ethnic diversity.

  • Consider that diversity of Colorado resident students in our freshman class this year is 25.6 percent.
  • That compares to 30 percent diversity among Colorado public high school graduates in 2010, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Overall, our campus diversity based on race and ethnicity is 17 percent, up from 15 percent two years ago.

But the goal is not to simply have a rich diversity of students, cultures and perspectives on campus, but to graduate these students into a life of career of contribution.

That’s where our student success programs come in under the guidance of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement. These programs include the CU-LEAD Alliance, a set of academic learning communities whose students, faculty, and staff are united to promote inclusive excellence.

They also include our pre-collegiate programs -- academic enhancement programs for middle and high school students designed to motivate and prepare first generation students to pursue their higher education goals.

Still, we must acknowledge the challenges of continuing to build a community that embraces diversity:

  • The challenge of finding new ways to encourage students to integrate diversity and inclusion into their college experience.
  • The challenge to faculty to weave diversity into the fabric of research and instruction.
  • And the challenge to staff to continue to do the important work they do.

Last spring we took the pulse of the community by completing two social climate surveys: one for students and one for faculty and staff. We are engaged in this work because we want to ensure that this is a place that students, faculty and staff truly value as a climate they are working and studying in.

Findings from the student survey are used to evaluate, revise and develop programs and policies that promote student success by helping all students feel like valued members of the university community. While this survey has a lot of positives and shows improvements, we know we still have work to do.

Similarly, we looked at the social climate for faculty and staff and learned that we compare favorably to our peers. At the same time, faculty and staff agreed there are areas we need to improve.

We recognize on campus that we are part of our broader Boulder and state community. We have seen over the last year that our campus and broader community are not immune from bigotry and violence.

We cannot change the climate by administrative decree. We need to all work together to cultivate a consciousness of inclusion in students, community members and visitors to our community that invite them into a better world. As Abraham Lincoln said, we need to “appeal to the better angels of our nature.”

This is an invitation to our better selves, to a better, richer, community. And while there is hard work involved, and difficult obstacles of understanding to overcome, we must not lose sight that it is the exciting, transformative work of getting to know one another and listening to one another.  

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce the keynote speaker of the summit, Alma Clayton-Pedersen, a senior fellow at the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Clayton-Pedersen is Executive Vice President of Emeritus Consulting Group, a Chicago-based firm that uses the principles of organizational development to help nonprofit, public, and education entities improve their effectiveness for the public good. As senior scholar at AAC&U, she is currently directing the Preparing Critical Faculty for the Future project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Clayton-Pedersen joined AAC&U after more than 15 years at Vanderbilt University where she served in senior leadership roles across the institution including student affairs, its public policy center, academic affairs and athletic affairs. While at Vanderbilt she conducted more than 20 institutional studies of student retention, campus climate for diversity, and the use and impact of student programming and services.

Please help me welcome Dr. Alma Clayton-Pedersen.