It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to the 18th Diversity and Inclusion Summit.

This event has become one of the most enduring, important and enlightening traditions on campus.

I want to welcome the City of Boulder and City Manager Jane Brautigam. They have been our partners in hosting the Diversity Summit for the past two years.

I also want to acknowledge the CU Student Government and their ongoing engagement in our diversity goals and challenges.

I would like to thank the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, 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 Committee on Race and Ethnicity
  • The Chancellor's Committee on Women
  • The Chancellor’s Campus Accessibility Committee
  • The Standing Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues
  • And the Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Board

A diverse campus includes diversity in ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religious preferences, socio-economic status, age, intellectual and geographic diversity, and race.

Later this morning you will hear a panel discuss the vision of our Flagship 2030 strategic plan for diversity. One of its core initiatives calls for strategies improving diversity and fostering a supportive and inclusive climate for all.

As you know colleges and universities across the country – and certainly CU – are closely watching the U.S. Supreme Court case on how -- and whether -- race can be used as a factor in college admissions.

We of course hope that the justices continue to allow race to be a factor that may be considered in admissions.

At CU, race and ethnicity are among a group of factors that may be considered for students who meet academic standards. Along with race, we also consider veterans, first-generation students and uniquely talented students. This allows us to bring together students whose differences make the college experience more enriching for all of us.

A diverse campus offers an incredible opportunity to get to know students and colleagues from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences whose life stories add to the lessons of the classroom and the workplace.

Our freshman class this year is the most diverse in our history. Twenty six percent of Colorado residents in our freshman class are underrepresented students. That compares to 33 percent among Colorado public high school graduates. Our goal is to erase that gap by 2020. It's a tough goal, but one that we should -- and can -- achieve.

Over the past five years, we’ve increased diversity from 20 to 26 percent of our resident freshman class. We’ve made progress both in recruiting and retaining students through the efforts of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement and through homegrown innovations such as our Pre-Collegiate Development Program and the CU-LEAD Alliance.

But, make no mistake: we still have much work to do in building trust with diverse communities around the state, improving our campus climate to be more welcoming and inclusive, and adding diversity to our faculty and graduate student ranks. Doing that work requires inspiration and perspiration, but I want to share with you a story that demonstrates how this progress can be achieved.

CU student Amelia Dickerson was left blind by a car accident in high school. She asked her chemistry instructor, Susan Hendrickson, to help her participate in a lab. Amelia’s passion to learn inspired our chemistry faculty to make their labs more accessible. With Amelia’s help, the chemistry department began incorporating new equipment to make experiments easier for students with disabilities. Even though Amelia herself was the inspiration for these changes, it was she, herself, who nominated the chemistry department for the President's Diversity Award.  

Amelia is on to something.  It’s not about who gets credit. It’s about transformation: changing what we need to change to enable the campus to serve both individuals and communities. Combining individual initiative -- like Amelia’s -- with group action, like that taken by our Chemistry faculty, ensures that we are accountable to one another.

So I want to encourage all of you, to live by this year’s theme: AMP it Up! with Awareness, Movement and Practice. Just like Amelia and our chemistry faculty did.

Thank you for coming.