Published: Aug. 4, 2020

Eight immediate actions for change: In mid-June, Chancellor Phil DiStefano asked us to consider these words as the first steps to transform the CU Boulder experience for all of us––but especially for Black students, faculty and staff and for other communities of color marginalized by racism, discrimination and inequity in our country, our community and at CU Boulder.

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

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

Creating a more inclusive campus community is a priority for CU Boulder, and we still have much work to do. The historic moment we are living in challenges us to leverage the momentum created by concerns over our nation’s unsettled past and present and compels us to take action that fosters true and lasting cultural change. We have heard the concerns of students, faculty and staff––many of whom are demanding substantive change now, even as we navigate the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic.

Since the chancellor issued his charge earlier this summer, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) and its many campus partners have been collaborating on multiple fronts, and as the campus’s chief diversity officer, and the individual entrusted with the chancellor’s charge, I’d like to share below an update on our progress to achieve the eight immediate actions for change.

As the semester begins, I invite you to look for opportunities to engage and participate in these efforts. I look forward, with a deep sense of purpose, to working with you to foster cultural change on our campus and will provide more updates over the coming weeks. We are all in this together––one campus community, focused on fulfilling the purpose of our university and the potential of our students.


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

Update on the chancellor’s Immediate Actions to Enable Change

Action No. 1: Update and enhance our faculty and staff hiring practices to achieve greater representation of people of color in our community and to better express the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion to all who would consider becoming part of our university.

To address this call to action, Human Resources continues to implement training on bias mitigation and inclusive hiring practices for faculty search committees to ensure our faculty recruiting process is not affected by unconscious biases that limit opportunities for diverse scholars. Since the initial 2018 implementation of the faculty search committee training and the campus focus on diversity efforts for faculty, selections of people of color increased 9.33% over the prior year and women 12.18%. Selections for people of color among research faculty also increased 10.91% this past year. In addition, the provost's office last week sent requests for applications related to the reallocation of open faculty lines to fund hires that broadly support diversity and inclusion. Meanwhile, HR has started evaluating minimum and preferred qualifications for staff searches to ensure that qualifications reflect true competencies for positions, and implementing a series of measures to increase diversity and address systemic bias at all strategic points of the search and hiring process.

Action No. 2: Update and enhance our student recruitment and retention policies and practices.

The application for admission for 2021 terms went live on Aug. 1 and the Office of Admissions will continue to mail materials and communicate digitally with students and their families as a part of our commitment to recruit from a wide variety of high schools that support communities of color. The office will update documents and will highlight the importance of diversity, inclusion and equity at CU Boulder and communicate the campus’s expectations that all incoming students will support our values as a campus.

Action No. 3: Implement mandatory bystander training for faculty, staff and students.

Over the past several weeks, the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) developed mandatory online community equity and effective bystander intervention training for students, faculty and staff that will be available before the beginning of the semester. In addition to those efforts, the Center for Teaching and Learning has developed training sessions in inclusive pedagogy focused on managing classroom conversations to launch on Aug. 19 and has implemented an online, self-paced course that has been offered since early July.

Action No. 4: Engage with the CU system and CU Student Government (CUSG) in examining our procurement practices with Colorado Correctional Industries.

Interim Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke and CUSG Tri-Executive Isaiah Chavous have met with system administration leaders to discuss our procurement practices as a four-campus university system, including purchases of furniture and other products built by Colorado prison inmates. A working group has been appointed by President Kennedy consisting of faculty, staff and student governance groups and other student participants. The group is engaging with key stakeholders and expects to offer recommendations before the end of August.

Action No. 5: Complete a review of campus police policies and procedures to align with best community and campus practices, including the protections contained in Senate Bill 20-217.

During the Colorado legislature’s 2020 session, legislators passed SB 20-217, a state statute that will take effect July 1, 2023, and require all local law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol to issue body-worn cameras to officers and require that all recordings of all incidents be released to the public within 21 days after a misconduct complaint.

Since assuming her role as CU Police Chief, Doreen Jokerst has mandated body-worn cameras for all officers, and vehicle cameras will go into effect Aug. 1, 2020. In response to the chancellor’s call to action, she is evaluating expanded training for her officers and has partnered with the Center for Policing Equity, a national nonprofit research and action-oriented think tank that works to reduce the causes of racial disparities in law enforcement through evidence-based approaches to social justice. Based in Los Angeles, the center partners with law enforcement and communities to “bridge the divide of communication, generational mistrust and suffering” through science that fosters public safety, community trust and racial equity.

Action No. 6: Charge CU Boulder faculty with developing a CU 101 anti-racism module for first-year students that explores the toxicity of racism in U.S. history, U.S. life and at CU Boulder and delves into ways to act against it in our daily lives on and off campus.

This summer, the Center for Inclusion and Social Change’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Inclusion and Student Achievement Dyonne Bergeron, collaborated with members of the CU 101 working group to develop an anti-racism module for first-year students during New Student Orientation and throughout the fall semester. Bergeron has also convened student focus groups to assess the effectiveness of the module to ensure the course content resonates with students.

Action No. 7: Continue engagement between CU Police Department, CUSG, Graduate and Professional Student Government (formerly United Government of Graduate Students) and student organizations of color to improve mutual understanding and law enforcement transparency and accountability to the campus.

CU Boulder Police Chief Doreen Jokerst continues to meet with CUSG leaders, other students, and Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold to strengthen relationships among students, faculty and staff and campus, local law enforcement and the local community. 

Ideas under consideration by the group include greater data transparency about bias-based profiling and other incidents; allowing students to sit on hiring panels for city and campus commissioned personnel; providing anti-racism training to campus police and other department personnel in addition to implementing new-hire trainings; posting the hiring process for campus police officers on the department’s website; and brainstorming more ideas on effective community engagement.

Action No. 8: Form the Council for Community and Inclusion recommended in the IDEA Plan and begin implementation of the IDEA Plan.

The chancellor’s final call to action refers to the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan that underpins all of the previous actions and will carry the campus forward as it continues its collective work of building a more diverse and inclusive campus. The  plan recommends creating the Council for Community and Inclusion, whose role will be to serve as an advisory body to prioritize institutional strategy and assess and report on progress in implementing the IDEA Plan. The chancellor’s cabinet has reviewed and accepted a list of council members, and the group’s membership and co-chairs will be announced before the fall semester.