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.
Next week marks the 23rd annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit, and I urge all students, faculty and staff to take a role in advancing the campus’s commitment to being a diverse and inclusive community at the summit Nov. 7–8.
Please join Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam, CU Student Government President of Student Affairs Betsy Sabala and myself as we open the summit at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the Glenn Miller Ballroom.
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 is our moral imperative, and it is critical to the success of our campus, to honor diversity and inclusivity in all forms: ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, religious preferences, socio-economic status, age, intellectual, political or geographic diversity.
Everyone in our community should feel engaged, valued and supported. We know campus social climate 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 to us 14 years ago. The creed calls for respecting the rights of others, celebrating our differences and contributing to the greater good of the community.
It reminds us that the dialogue we will have at the Diversity and Inclusion Summit should not be limited to an annual or bi-annual event but be a 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. Constantly seeking a diverse perspective should be woven into our fiber as a higher-education institution.
While we all share a commonality as campus community members, 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.
While we each have our personal histories, we need to identify our barriers as a campus that keep us from connecting. What is holding us back from being the inclusive and accepting place we want to be? We have questions, but we don’t have all the answers. Taking on those questions is the value of this annual summit.
It takes the collective wisdom and experiences of all of us, as individuals with personal narratives, to work together to find solutions.
Please join me at the Diversity and Inclusion Summit Nov. 7–8.
Philip P. DiStefano,