Moving the needle on making excellence inclusive
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 programs last year: Inclusive Pedagogy Workshops and an Inclusive Pedagogy Community of Practice. New this year, is the Inclusive Workplace Community of Practice complementing the other two programs.
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.
Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement
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 email@example.com.
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement
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.
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement
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 will be complete in 2018.
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.
A simple diversity planning model, conceptualized as a Venn Diagram, will allow us to consider our forward momentum, unit by unit and department by department as we all work toward cultural change. Using the diversity planning model 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. ODECE, therefore, will also present its work in these terms.
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.
Our completed plan will produce a common understanding of CU Boulder’s vision, mission and strategic goals regarding diversity and inclusion.