It's my pleasure to welcome you to the 19th Diversity and Inclusion Summit.

And welcome to our partners in hosting this summit, Boulder County and the City of Boulder.

I would like to thank the CU-Boulder 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.

The Diversity and Inclusion Summit Planning Committee has planned an invigorating and diverse program.

I would like to thank the Student Affairs Diversity Committee for their very active participation in this event.

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

We all recognize that a diverse campus includes diversity in all its forms: ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religious preferences, socio-economic status, age, intellectual, political and geographic diversity.

I want to thank all of you here today for your many contributions to foster diversity and inclusion at the University of Colorado Boulder and in the broader community.

The exchange of ideas and knowledge among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives is a hallmark of higher education, and one we are committed to at CU.

We have a tremendous line-up of presenters over the next two days offering a great diversity of thought. In just a few minutes Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia will offer insights on the importance of diversity and inclusion for the state of Colorado. Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam is with us.

Patricia Gurin of the University of Michigan will extend the social science evidence key in the 2003 Supreme Court affirmative action ruling on the educational benefit of diversity.

CU-Boulder English Professor Adam Bradley with present a talk entitled "A Hip Hop Road to a Diverse Future." 

We will here from across the political spectrum with Law Professor Melissa Hart on the implications for universities in Fisher vs. the University of Texas and Steven Hayword, Visiting Scholar on Conservative Thought and Policy, on environmental justice and civil rights.

Our partners at the City of Boulder will address hidden disabilities.

This year's summit also offers an interesting contrast on where we have we been, where are we now, and where do we want to go, in different sessions on consecutive days.

Here at the CU-Boulder, we have made progress on our diversity goals. Let's start by acknowledging the good news. The number of students of color on campus today is unprecedented with 23 percent new freshmen and 19 percent overall in the student body.

Further, we want the diversity in our resident freshman class to match that of the Colorado high school graduating class. We are getting close. When I began as Chancellor in 2009 it was 20 percent at CU-Boulder versus 30 percent of the state's high school graduates. Today, it's 29 percent versus 31 percent.  This is a hugely important goal.

How have we made such progress? Through the work of many of you in this room. We have had success in attracting under-represented students through our pre-collegiate programs.

We have found success in graduating diverse students with the support of our academic neighborhoods such as the Ethnic Living and Learning Community and the Chancellor's Leadership Studies RAP, as well as the multiple programs in CU Lead Alliance.

That's the good news. But let's also acknowledge the challenge that comes with the good news.  

The National Survey of Student Engagement released last week shows that students enter CU as freshmen looking forward to learning and discussions with diverse students.  But when they leave, they are disappointed they didn't have that opportunity. We have work to do. We have to change the culture.

We cannot change the climate by administrative decree. Changing the culture takes a community. It takes:

  • Faculty who take time to work with a student who's facing a challenge.
  • Students who stand up – both personally and collectively – for the cause of equity.
  • Counselors who make themselves available at a moment's notice when a student calls.
  • Students who cross racial and cultural lines to reach out to a classmate.
  • Faculty who make sure their courses include diverse perspectives.
  • Administrators who place a high priority on investing in diversity.
  • Alumni who contribute their time and financial resources for the success of those who come after them.
  • And students who overcome personal hardship and cultural barriers to graduate from the university.

Now is the time to lead, evolve, and change how we do things. Now is the time to bring forth new ideas and new methods, new levels of organization, and new partnerships to reach our goals.

I am pleased to see one such effort materializing right here before our eyes.  Please stop by the Respect Campaign table just in front of the Glenn Miller Ballroom. This is a grass-roots effort that is already spanning the campus and already has faculty, staff, and students on board. Its intent is to cultivate greater respect throughout the campus, which is a foundational piece for fostering greater diversity and inclusion. They could use all of our help to accomplish this.

In closing I will say that I always liked the way business leader and author Max De Pree, framed the importance of a diverse community.  De Pree, the founder of Herman Miller Office Furniture, said this:

"We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity.  We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion."

That is my wish for our community, both on the campus and far beyond the campus. I believe that together we can make it happen.

Thank you.