Creating the CU Boulder Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan

Read the IDEA Plan

As the culminating efforts of four years of groundwork and effort, the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan is officially complete and available for the campus. 

Read through the various stages of effort and campuswide involvement that have led to the current moment. 

The IDEA Plan—a blueprint for diversity, inclusion

Article below first appeared in CU Boulder Today, Oct. 30, 2019

CU Boulder leaders announced today that they have accepted the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan—the campus’s blueprint for diversity, equity and inclusive excellence.

Acceptance of the report by Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, Provost Russell Moore and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox marks the culmination of the campus process for collaboration, drafting, response and review.

The plan lays out three key calls to action and lists dozens of actionable recommendations to improve the academic, research and professional experiences of all students, faculty and staff.

CU Boulder leaders announced today that they have accepted the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan—the campus’s blueprint for diversity, equity and inclusive excellence.

Acceptance of the report by Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, Provost Russell Moore and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox marks the culmination of the campus process for collaboration, drafting, response and review.

The plan lays out three key calls to action and lists dozens of actionable recommendations to improve the academic, research and professional experiences of all students, faculty and staff.

“The IDEA Plan is the product of extensive reflection, focused discussion and dedication to changing our culture at CU Boulder,” DiStefano said. “I am grateful to the authoring committee for its extensive work, and to our campus community for its patience and engagement as we crafted this transformative document.”

The plan outlines benchmarks for progress in three key areas: climate, infrastructure and leadership. It identifies five actions to enable the plan’s three goals, under the acronym CLIMB

  • Cultivate success for a diverse undergraduate and graduate student body with new financial resources and programming;
  • Learn and lead effective efforts to attract and retain a diverse faculty and staff;
  • Increase financial resources and incentives to undertake diversity and inclusion work;
  • Move accountability for diversity and inclusion from the periphery to core institutional functioning;
  • Build institutional infrastructures and human capacity to implement the plan.

Each CLIMB action is supported by substantial recommendations for expanding successful programs, creating new programs and erecting structures for progress. 

There are also suggestions in the document for creating a permanent campus committee to oversee the implementation of the IDEA Plan and for creating resources to carry out the plan’s work. 

Central to the plan's recommendations are accountability and actions at all levels of campus leadership.

“The IDEA Plan is about changing the day-to-day experience of our students, faculty and staff by removing barriers to their success, regardless of their identity,” said Moore. “It is about changing how we engage in teaching and scholarship, how we interact in the workplace and how we create an environment for achieving excellence that includes everyone in our community and excludes no one.”

Fox agreed, saying that she, Moore and DiStefano were united in asking the committee to draft a plan that challenged both campus leadership and the broader university community to create culture change.

“Not only does the IDEA Plan issue this challenge,” said Fox, “it gives us all specific actions for leaning into work that will forever change our campus.”

Under the direction of Moore and Fox, implementation of the plan will be led by Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Deputy Chief HR Officer Merna Jacobsen, and Arts & Sciences Associate Dean for Student Success Daryl Maeda. The three will partner with Kevin MacLennan, assistant vice chancellor for Enrollment Management, and Katherine Erwin, chief human resources officer for CU Boulder, in developing an implementation strategy for the plan. 

“We will need to prioritize the recommendations and ideas within the IDEA Plan within our resource realities,” said DiStefano. “But we will find ways to address its many recommendations—and the challenges they highlight—with all the creativity and innovation we can muster.” 

Concurrently, the CU system strategic plan will factor in the diversity and inclusion work at CU Boulder that is outlined by the IDEA Plan. The system process is not looking to redefine campus processes; instead, each campus will submit its individual report on diversity, equity, inclusion and access activities. 

“CU Boulder’s report will describe how we are implementing the IDEA Plan,” DiStefano said. 

The IDEA Plan is the result of a three-and-a-half-year campus-wide effort that incorporates the input of more than 500 students, faculty and staff and 90 academic and administrative departments. It was drafted and revised by a 28-person committee inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, academic discipline and role within the university, and socialized with the campus in the fall of 2018 through 12 open forums, gathering more than 50 online submissions. 

The IDEA Plan’s authoring and revising committee was commissioned by Boswell, and co-chaired by Maeda and Jacobsen. It was facilitated by Alaina Beaver, initiatives director of social climate strategy for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE), and Alphonse Keasley, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement.  

Published: Sept. 3rd, 2019

Striving to become a student-centered campus is a primary motivation and central project of Academic Futures, as well as a key focus of Foundations of Excellence and the IDEA Plan. The project calls for a coordinated and collective effort in undergraduate teaching and learning, including developing a common learning experience, establishing a teaching and learning center, and taking a unified approach to advising. These important ideas are supported by the work of both Financial Futures and Strategic Facilities Visioning, and are tied to a host of other ongoing strategic projects CU Boulder.

Later this month, the university will announce the structure of its Center for Teaching and Learning, which, under the direction of its new director, Kirk Ambrose, will be a combined resource for all who have a teaching role on campus – from tenured faculty to graduate students to adjunct instructors.

The Center for Teaching and Learning will also be a hub for professional development on teaching and learning best practices for faculty and graduate students. The new center will build assessment capacity for faculty and departments, provide resources on inclusive pedagogy, and develop an education community of practice that allows best practices and innovative ideas to flow across the university.

The Foundations of Excellence Advising Committee forwarded recommendations to the provost to improve the advising experience for CU Boulder students – projects that have been approved and funded.

The Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan, the campus’s blueprint for cultivating diversity, inclusion and equity and improving campus culture and climate, currently under review of campus leadership, will focus on a number of key provisions designed to improve the student experience in the classroom by creating an inclusive pedagogy community of practice for faculty facility via the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Together, these initiatives work to focus faculty and staff efforts on reimaging and revitalizing the student experience and integrate the campus’s strategic imperatives—lead, innovate, impact—by improving the experience of CU people—students, faculty and staff—and the quality of CU programs, and the positive outcomes that occur from the symbiosis of both and that serve the public good. 

Published: May 1, 2019

The revised draft of the IDEA Plan – the campus’s working blueprint for achieving diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence – has been delivered to the chancellor, provost and senior vice chancellor for review.

“We are discussing the IDEA Plan’s recommendations and paths forward,” said Provost Russ Moore. “The revised draft of the plan has been posted on the ODECE website for the community, and we will meet with the IDEA Plan steering committee within the next 30 days as we continue to make revisions to the plan and chart a path toward implementing it.”

The goal, Moore said, is “to have the plan actively in place in the fall and integrated with our other strategic initiatives.”

Boswell worked with the IDEA Plan steering committee to map the plan’s priorities and align it with the other strategic initiatives, including Academic Futures, Foundations of Excellence, Strategic Facilities Visioning and Financial Futures.

“I applaud the efforts of the Authoring and Revising Committees and the attention of the entire campus in drafting this plan of action,” said Boswell. “I am eager to work with the chancellor’s leadership team to ensure we integrate the IDEA Plan effectively with our other strategic initiatives and make vital progress in increasing diversity, promoting equity, and making excellence inclusive across our campus.”

Stay tuned for progress updates in CU Boulder Today or visit the Strategic Initiatives Web page to learn more about each of the initiatives and to see schedules for town halls, meetings and other engagement opportunities. You can provide feedback on the strategic initiatives to the provost and senior vice chancellor by sending an e-mail to 

Published: Feb. 5, 2019

This spring, CU Boulder will see its first-ever comprehensive diversity, inclusion and equity plan delivered to the campus.

The Revising Committee for the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan is working through over 50 submissions received online during the open feedback period, November–December, last fall, as well as feedback from 12 open town hall sessions.

“Our intent in revising is to expand the scope and effectiveness of the plan based on the feedback,” said Revision Committee Co-chair Daryl Maeda, associate dean for Student Success in the College of Arts and Sciences and an associate professor of ethnic studies. 

“We want to emphasize this is not a process of softening, backing off of or compromising the recommendations in the plan. These are minor changes, clarifications and additions to the draft of the plan that are underway.” Maeda said.    

Once this process is complete, the committee will submit its revised plan to Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell and the chancellor's cabinet for review with a target completion date of early spring 2019. 

"The Revising Committee is very grateful for the engagement from units and individuals across campus for their input to the IDEA Plan. We’ve had great conversations during our town halls and great written input, as well. We believe this plan will be an effective and inspiring blueprint for the campus in the years to come," said co-chair Merna Jacobsen, assistant vice chancellor and deputy chief HR officer and director of organizational and employee development. 

Maeda agreed.

"The IDEA Plan will be a transformative, living document for the entire campus that we believe will spur cultural change, help build an improved campus social climate, and provide a framework for permanently owning our commitments to diversity, inclusion and equity," he said.

The upcoming spring 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Tuesday, Feb. 12, will include a session titled CU Community Unplugged: IDEA Plan Edition which will offer individuals an opportunity to explore how to connect to the plan's goals and have a personal impact in Making Excellence Inclusive in their respective communities. 

Published: Nov. 7, 2018

The Inclusion, Diversity, Excellence and Academics Plan (IDEA Plan) will be posted for community review on Friday, Nov. 9, on the ODECE website.

The plan is the culmination of more than six months’ work by the IDEA Plan authoring and revising committees. It is a continuously renewing blueprint of action designed to promote diversity, improve equity for all people underserved in the campus community, and to continuously engage the CU Boulder community in reflection and action to transform our campus climate. 

Community members are invited to attend a series of town halls to provide input into the plan, as well as to submit two-page papers online, during a 30-day review period once the plan is published. Following that input, the IDEA Plan revising committee will make additional changes with the goal of submitting the plan to the chancellor’s cabinet for review and acceptance in early 2019.

At the request of the revising committee for the Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan (DIAEP), CU Boulder Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell today announced he has granted an extension to the posting of the plan – originally scheduled for Sept. 17 – with community town halls set to begin immediately after publication. The extension allows the revising committee to more thoroughly explore the plan’s recommendations and their implications for new and existing policies, and to receive focused feedback from content experts on various aspects of the plan. A new posting date to facilitate campus review of the plan is targeted for later in the fall semester and will be announced soon.

Note that, per an announcement earlier today, we have moved the release of the Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan (DIAEP) to facilitate a longer period of review by the plan's revision committee, and to provide the campus the chance to review both the Academic Futures report and DIAEP Plan in separate time intervals, allowing a closer focus on each.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) has had a busy and fruitful 2017–18 academic year as we’ve collaborated with strategic partners across campus in our work towards making excellence inclusive. ODECE authored a campuswide working definition of inclusive excellence that helps provide leadership to other departments, which are encouraged to contextualize this definition to meet their respective diversity and inclusion goals.

Based on the input of over 90 departmental narratives compiled via our campuswide inclusive excellence initiative, we learned a great deal about both the good work already in progress regarding diversity and inclusion on campus, as well as some key needs across our community. One of these needs was to have more resources and support in creating an inclusive teaching environment, and as a result, ODECE initiated two new programs this year: Inclusive Pedagogy Workshops and an Inclusive Pedagogy Community of Practice. Both programs are designed to help spread awareness and uptake of strategies and practices that help make learning experiences welcoming and engaging for all students. Over 300 faculty, staff and students from over 40 different departments and programs on campus signed up across the year’s workshop series that brought five nationally renowned guest scholars to campus. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with multiple attendees echoing one participant’s statement: “everyone who teaches should be here learning about inclusive pedagogy.”  That, in fact, is our goal. 

Over the past year, we’ve also extended and deepened our work through long-held campus traditions and ongoing departmental services. In the fall we hosted CU Boulder’s 25th Diversity and Inclusion Summit, welcoming students, faculty, staff and the Boulder community to 44 conversations, presentations and performances designed to help us explore “brave spaces” and deepen our everyday inclusive practices—down to micro-interactions and language choices—as we continue to work toward a campus and community climate where everyone can find a sense of belonging.

In the spring, we held our largest spring Diversity and Inclusion Summit thus far, with 30 additional sessions that extended the conversation of this year’s theme, “Building the Road Map: Finding Our Way.” While all of ODECE has a hand in the Summit’s success, we also continued to deliver on the services of our departments, including Disability Services and the pre-collegiate programs, as well as support the student success initiatives of the CU LEAD Alliance and our DACA/ASSET students.

ODECE has worked with faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences and CU Law to conduct a new series of UndocuAlly sessions, which have been attended by over 80 faculty and staff thus far. The goal of these sessions is to help our community gain a greater appreciation of the challenges that undocumented students face and to provide resources for ways to show support for these students as allies.

Disability Services hosted its second annual awards ceremony this spring, and our pre-collegiate programs continue to foster new relationships with communities across the state of Colorado. ODECE continues to offer academic awards that honor excellence in diversity and equity on the CU Boulder campus, while working with strategic partners to expand opportunities such as the STAR program and the Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship. We have closed out the spring semester with a series of town-hall-style update sessions for students, faculty and staff to discuss the campus working definition of Inclusive Excellence.

As we now look to the summer and the year ahead, there remains much to be energized about and a great deal of work to be done. ODECE has convened an authoring committee to compose a working draft of the campus’s Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan. This committee is comprised of individuals from across campus who were thoughtfully selected to bring a diversity of experience and expertise to the effort. This plan will dovetail with our campus strategic imperatives and other major campus initiatives—including Academic Futures and Foundations of Excellence—to ensure alignment across campus.

The plan will be a continuously renewing blueprint of action designed to promote diversity, improve equity for all people underrepresented in higher education, and continuously engage our community in reflection and action to transform our campus climate.  ODECE will also be preparing for a special Diversity and Inclusion Summit this fall, as the Boulder campus hosts the CU System-wide Summit, with keynote speaker Beverly Daniel Tatum. In the meantime, keep an eye out for an improved ODECE website, which will also launch this summer and will provide continuous updates on our progress and links to our vital resources.  We look forward to our continued collaborations and your earnest involvement with ODECE programming and personnel, and we thank you for the honest feedback, constructive criticism, and positive engagement.

With spring upon us, it is a good time to update the campus on the work the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) is doing with communities and partners on campus to continue our progress toward making excellence inclusive.

In February, we convened our busiest Spring Diversity and Inclusion Summit, hosting 30 sessions in a single-day event attended by more than 300 people for discussions on everything from new ways to have tough conversations about differences to learning how to make digital storytelling more diverse and inclusive.

We also have welcomed four nationally acclaimed scholars—Saundra McGuire, Kelly Mack, Ashley Finley and most recently Kimberly Tanner—for 18 workshops with 365 attendees in our series on inclusive pedagogy. These sessions are designed to be a resource for those who engage students in learning that is accessible.

We have coupled these workshops with ongoing bi-weekly (nine so far this year) Inclusive Pedagogy Community of Practice (IPCoP) sessions, where groups of campus members (averaging between 15–30 per session) have engaged in conversations about sensitive issues on personal differences. The outcomes create a sharper awareness that, in turn, help to improve teaching, learning, everyday work and mutual engagement.

Both approaches chip away at the attitudes, missteps and behaviors that marginalize students, faculty and staff. Our approaches have the potential for substantive and transformative cultural change that create a welcoming learning environment for everyone. We have five sessions remaining this year and urge you to attend one.

ODECE is also continuing outreach to and engagement with undocumented members of our community and their families, allies and coworkers, to do all we can to provide guidance and support for our valued members of CU Boulder at this uncertain time.

How can you engage? Beginning April 6, we are hosting a series of eight community update sessions where we will seek input to shape a working draft of the Campus Definition of Inclusive Excellence, provide a near-term outline for the work yet to be done on the campus’ Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan and discuss ODECE’s Diversity Planning Model for Cultural Change. Sessions are open to all members of the campus community. We invite you to attend.

The work ODECE does to help achieve cultural change on our campus depends upon vital partnerships with organizations and units across campus. Together, we work to transform our aspirations to be a diverse and inclusive community into realities for our students, faculty and staff. Our focus is on long-term change and transformation of our campus culture through actions large and small and, most importantly, through a firm belief in a definition of excellence that includes us all. 

If you have questions about our work or would like to talk, I encourage you to contact our office at

Bob Boswell,
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement 

As the semester continues following our observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Dr. King’s words, life and example remain on our minds. In the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE), we strive to act with commitment and the passion embodied by Dr. King in our work to create new approaches, partnerships, policies, and procedures that advance diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels. I would like to provide you with an update on where that work stands at the moment, and where we are going.

First, let me begin by answering a question I receive frequently: “what has happened to our inclusive excellence narratives?” As many of you are aware, 90+ inclusive excellence narratives were submitted to ODECE from across campus. They define how academic and administrative units intend to make the practice of achieving excellence more inclusive.

Our initial concept was to work with each of these units, separately and together, to create a CU Boulder definition of Inclusive Excellence based on the narratives. Once we reviewed and synthesized these narratives – a lengthy process – we determined it was more important to create and develop new programs to support what the units described and requested.

For example, it became clear to us that many on campus want 1) to highlight and expand resources to help units achieve inclusive excellence; 2) to cultivate cultural change across campus so that all people feel a sense of “fit” at CU Boulder and 3) to support promising practices for hiring and retaining people from underrepresented groups at our institution. We worked with a variety of partners to provide responses to those themes.

In 2017, we expanded resources for inclusive pedagogy and created a series of ongoing professional development workshops. Faculty from more than 20 departments participated in these workshops and more workshops are planned, all with the goal of responding to issues of concern within the classroom that can make the learning experience better for students and faculty alike. We also developed an inclusive pedagogy community of practice for faculty, staff and students, designed to facilitate honest conversations about how to respond to tensions around differences as part of the process of authentic teaching and learning. We had strong participation in each of these “brave space” conversations, and they provide strategies and techniques for diffusing tense situations in real time.

To foster a sense of belonging for all students and respond to results of the most recent campus climate survey, the Division of Student Affairs has embarked on initiatives to create supportive and educational spaces for students to engage in dialogue through Living and Learning Communities. Student Affairs also initiated and invested in intercultural competence development for faculty and staff, as well as pilot programs for students, using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) model.  After launching IDI, the Student Affairs partnered with Human Resources to further develop and implement the program across campus.

In addition, Chief Human Resources Officer Katherine Erwin has over the last year added three key positions:  a diversity search and outreach program manager, a diversity education and training program manager, and a staff career development advisor and program manager. Together, the team will implement new campus protocols to increase the recruiting, hiring and professional development of a diverse faculty and staff workforce, and further educate the campus on how to create a more inclusive workplace.

Looking ahead, these partners and others such as the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) and the Office of Data Analytics (in the Division of Strategic Resources and Support) will launch the new Campus Climate Survey for 2019, compiling data on how individuals and communities view life and learning at CU Boulder, leading to new programs and actions that build inclusive excellence and strengthen communities on campus.

Moreover, we collaborated with the Provost, CFO, and Deans to develop the Strategic, Targeted, and Accelerated Recruitment Program (STAR), designed to incentivize the hiring and retaining of faculty whose scholarship, teaching, or service contribute to CU’s diversity and inclusion missions. We have made three hires under this program this year and the Provost and CFO have committed a minimum of $2M over the next five years to continue the program. You may find additional information on the website, and an announcement regarding 2018 STAR proposals will occur later this semester.

Moving ahead, we are focused on hosting the Spring Diversity and Inclusion Summit Feb. 13th with a theme of “Finding our Way” – challenging ourselves and our community to make individual and collective contributions to diversity and inclusion. Following will be the Inclusive Sports Summit Feb. 14-15. We will also move to complete our campus Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan as a roadmap for our future, and a communications plan that will highlight for our community and make more visible the results of the campus’s multi-faceted work in diversity, equity, inclusion and campus climate improvement.   

I look forward to updating you on these and other efforts in the coming editions of CU Boulder Today.  

Bob Boswell

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement 


Overview of CU Boulder's Planning to Make Excellence Inclusive

As outlined by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), a professional organization of which CU Boulder is a part, we are collectively on a journey to make excellence inclusive. In order to chart a successful course for the campus on diversity, inclusion, and institutional excellence, CU Boulder is developing the Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan, which was completed in 2019.

As a campus, the intent is to achieve a cultural change at CU Boulder so that all students, faculty, staff and administration feel a sense of “fit” at CU Boulder within their respective roles.

Localizing the campuswide IDEA Plan will allow us to consider our forward momentum, unit by unit and department by department, as we all work toward cultural change. According to the hybrid model outlined in the campuswide IDEA Plan, section "B," the creation of unit and department-based IDEA Plans will help our campus partners articulate concisely what they are already doing, and what they intend to do, in order to make excellence inclusive at the local level. 

This work is purposeful, mindful, and incremental, but we are confident that articulating and planning for inclusive cultural change will allow our institution to shine even brighter as the University of Colorado's flagship for academic excellence.

The IDEA Plan serves as the culmination of 4 years of work, creating a common understanding of CU Boulder’s vision, mission and strategic goals regarding diversity and inclusion.

The campuswide Inclusion, Diversity & Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan provides:

  • An evolving definition of diversity and inclusion at CU Boulder
  • Concrete recommendations for achieving diversity goals and action items in support of those goals
  • Defined assessment tools that will be used to determine progress towards specific goals and identifying initiatives requiring modification
  • Recommendations based on actions most likely to have an immediate and positive impact on inclusive excellence and campus climate