Published: Sept. 28, 2020

A group of students, faculty and staff members who will lead the implementation of the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan met with university leaders during a recent kickoff meeting to discuss the next steps they will take to help build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community.

The IDEA Council, formerly the Council for Community and Inclusion, held its inaugural meeting on Sept. 22 with the participation and support of Chancellor Phil DiStefano, Provost Russell Moore, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Pat O’Rourke, and Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell.

“We are at a pivotal moment,” Boswell said. “After years of planning and discussions, IDEA Council members will begin the work of prioritizing the recommendations of the IDEA Plan.”

The IDEA Plan is the campus’s comprehensive blueprint for building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community. During the IDEA Council’s meeting last week, members established that recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff would be the primary focus for the 2020-21 academic year. The council, whose 26 members were designated by leaders in their respective units, changed its name to better reflect its overall mission, Boswell said.

Council Co-Chair Lisa Flores, associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Media, Communication and Information (CMCI) and associate professor of communication, said, “It is here, at the intersection of recruitment and retention, that the campus can make both the transformative, immediate change so necessary at this moment as we also build the structural change that can interrupt and undo the long standing practices that uphold inequity.”

Over the next few months, committee members will gather data detailing campus recruitment and retention work already underway and will recommend strategies for filling in gaps. Their work will focus on improving student, staff and faculty recruitment and retention and identifying areas where the campus can improve its efforts.

“I am hopeful that with the IDEA Plan and the implementation of its recommendations, each campus individual will further their commitment and action-oriented follow-through of tangible antiracist and inclusive practices in their campus work and lives,” said Co-Chair Teresa Hernández, diversity search and outreach program manager in Human Resources.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Chancellor DiStefano reiterated that he, the provost and the chief operating officer were committed to being accountable partners who would support council members’ work and priorities at a time when the country continues to reckon with its past and engage in difficult conversations around race and equity. CU Boulder should move decisively to address barriers to success for students, faculty and staff of color who are working to achieve their academic, research and career goals, the chancellor said.

“As you begin your work, at all times I want you to feel empowered to be authentic––to make the hard choices as you recommend priorities, to call out silos and point out threats to progress as you see them, to recommend priorities that challenge the status quo, to be comprehensive––to really challenge us to transform on all fronts. Creating an inclusive campus requires a holistic approach,” DiStefano told council members.

For his part, Provost Moore acknowledged that the campus requires a “bolder scale of transformation” to prioritize diversity-related work “and we need it today.”

“I echo what Phil has said about being authentic––about being bold, being clear, and making the tough recommendations needed to prioritize our work,” Moore said. “And we are dedicated to implementing the recommendations of the IDEA Plan and to moving forward with the priorities you identify.”

O’Rourke told council members that the university is contending with budget and other challenges in the face of COVID-19, but that “the work of making CU Boulder diverse, inclusive, equitable and antiracist will outlast our current challenges and must sustain us into the future.”

He said the university has preserved funding for ODECE and initiatives in support of diversity, equity and inclusion amid other cuts “because we know how vital this moment is to the future of our campus, our community and our state.”