CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano speaks at the Diversity and Inclusion Summitmit In

We are pleased that the Diversity and Inclusion Summit occurs in partnership with the city of Boulder.

As a first-generation college student growing up in the Rust Belt of Ohio, I know both the challenges and the opportunities that other first-generation college students face.  By being a part of an inclusive community that values diversity and respect for all students, the challenges diminish and the opportunities increase.

Growing up in a diverse community that welcomed and respected all, allowed me to be successful.  I carried this experience with me as I navigated through undergraduate and graduate education to pursue a career in education that led to being the Chancellor of our great university.

Achieving a diverse and inclusive community is vital to our campus imperatives of creating tomorrow’s leaders, being the top university for innovation and impacting humanity.

It’s our moral imperative, and critical to the success of our campus, to honor diversity and inclusivity in all forms: race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religious preferences, socio-economic status, age, intellectual, political or geographic diversity.

Everyone – students, faculty, staff, visitors and members of our Boulder community should feel engaged, valued and supported. We know that social climate here on campus, and in the broader community, is foundational to the success of our students.  We want everyone to thrive and reach their full potential at CU Boulder.

Our goal for creating an inclusive campus is supported by the Colorado Creed, which our students gave us 14 years ago. The creed calls for respecting the rights of others, celebrating our differences and contributing to the greater good of our community. 

The Colorado Creed is posted in high-profile public places on campus, including in this building. It reminds us that the dialogue we are having over the next two days should not be limited to an annual or bi-annual summit. It should be part of our daily conversation. Given the events our country has experienced in recent weeks and months the Colorado Creed is more important than ever. 

Sharing and learning from people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives makes us all richer, smarter and better citizens of the world. Seeking a diverse perspective should be woven into our fiber as a higher education institution.

An inclusive campus, and society, rich in diversity is also critical to creativity and innovation. If people from only one perspective design a product, a process or a class, many of us will find that our needs are not addressed. Including people from many backgrounds and perspectives creates a well-rounded result. At 10 a.m. tomorrow there is a session on the importance of diversity and inclusivity to innovation.

I believe everyone here believes in the value of a diverse and inclusive campus and society. But how do we, as individuals, make a difference? While we are all connected as members of the campus, and the Boulder community, we are each a product of our individual cultures and personal backgrounds.

Sharing our personal journeys, and cultural backgrounds, makes us a better university. By working together, we can continue to elevate CU to new heights of shared humanity. We each have our personal histories. Now, we need to identify our barriers as a campus, and as a broader community, that keep us from connecting. What is holding us back from being the inclusive and accepting place we want to be?

It takes the collective wisdom and experiences of all of us as individuals, with personal histories, to work together to find solutions. To me that’s what this summit is all about: finding our way.