Published: Jan. 25, 2018

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.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell

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-plus 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 to highlight and expand resources to help units achieve inclusive excellence; to cultivate cultural change across campus so that all people feel a sense of “fit” at CU Boulder; and 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, Student Affairs partnered with Human Resources to further develop and implement the program across campus.

In addition, Chief Human Resources Officer Katherine Erwin has added over the last year 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 $2 million over the next five years to continue the program. You may find additional information at the link above, 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. 13, 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 also will 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

To see a summary of our work to date and what’s coming next, please visit