Published: Dec. 17, 2020

CU Boulder will continue to move major initiatives forward during the current academic year and beyond—including the pivotal work of the IDEA Council to prioritize and implement recommendations included in the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics, or IDEA, Plan.

The council convened in September and set the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff as its 2020-21 priorities. In collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE), the council, whose members include students, faculty and staff representing CU Boulder’s colleges, schools and operational divisions, will continue its transformative work to undo what co-chair and Associate Professor Lisa Flores described as the “longstanding practices that uphold inequity.”

Chancellor Philip DiStefano said he is grateful for the council’s collaborative work to address the immediate and long-term needs of the campus community.

“The events of this year have magnified something we’ve known for some time: Our campus culture does not serve the needs of all of our students, staff and faculty; it inadequately represents our values and mission as Colorado’s leading public research university,” he said

“These efforts have been a long time coming, and much more work lies ahead of us if we are to become the inclusive campus we aspire to be,” DiStefano said. “Our community is ready for change, for more success and fewer disappointments, more joy and less sadness, and more connections and less division. Our task—the most pressing our community faces—is to take actions that complete these transformations and remake our campus culture.”

DiStefano in June announced eight immediate actions for change in response to the concerns of students, faculty and staff, and Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement, said work to advance these priorities will continue in the spring.

ODECE will expand its scope to support campus priorities and, among other initiatives, augment its support for affinity groups, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, programs that support student success and partnerships to enhance educational access through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI).

ODECE held its biannual Diversity and Inclusion Summit virtually in November and is planning a spring summit in addition to supporting the CU system as it prepares to hold its diversity summit for all four CU campuses on Feb. 5.

“Thanks to the work of the IDEA Council, we are making progress in implementing the IDEA Plan and its recommendations,” Boswell said. “Our goal this spring is to build on these efforts by working side-by-side with students, faculty and staff.”

To provide additional support to the campus, DiStefano in October announced plans to search for a chief diversity officer. However, in consultation with leadership in ODECE, the IDEA Council co-chairs and other campus community members, DiStefano said he has decided to proceed with greater community engagement before filling the CDO or a similar position.

“I have been learning more from students, faculty and staff about the qualities they’d like to see in someone serving in this or a similar capacity and I intend to announce early in the new year the direction we’ll take with this position,” DiStefano said.

In February, in keeping with the spirit of deepening the campus’s institutional memory and celebrating the contributions of those whose stories have been absent from campus history, the university plans to advocate for the renaming of two campus buildings to honor three individuals who embody inclusive excellence, the DiStefano said.

The campus will advance resolutions to the CU Board of Regents to propose the renaming of the Education Building to honor Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder, and Temporary Building 1 to honor professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience and longtime campus administrative leader Albert Ramírez and his late wife, Vera. Read more about the building renaming initiative.

Other initiatives established this fall that will expand upon previous work include the CU Boulder History Project and the Art in Public Space Committee.

The History Project is working to deepen the university’s institutional memory and demonstrate its commitment to inclusive excellence; the art committee is developing a vision for public art that is specific to CU Boulder. Both initiatives were an outgrowth of dialogue that arose following the installation of Los Seis de Boulder, a sculpture depicting the lives of six students killed in bombings in Boulder during the historic Chicano rights movement in the 1970s.

Want to provide input? Visit ODECE’s We Are Listening page.

Update on the chancellor’s 8 immediate actions for change

  • Action No. 1: Update and enhance faculty and staff hiring practices. Human Resources implemented implicit bias training for search committees and for those voting on faculty hires, which will continue for the rest of the academic year. HR also established a process to evaluate mandatory qualifications for staff searches to ensure that qualifications reflect true competencies for positions. Through the Faculty Diversity Action Plan (FDAP), 11 open searches for tenure-track faculty are underway.
  • Action No. 2: Update and enhance student recruitment and retention. The Office of Admissions undertook a deeper analysis of in-state and out-of-state recruitment to ensure we are drawing students from communities of color. Admissions is using new tools to support outreach among Colorado’s diverse populations and continues to underscore the campus’s inclusive values with incoming students and their families.
  • Action No. 3: Implement mandatory bystander training. The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) partnered to provide mandatory student, staff and faculty bystander training, and more sessions will be available in the spring. CTL also delivered inclusive pedagogy training focusing on managing classroom conversations.
  • Action No. 4: Engage with the CU system and student government to examine campus procurement practices. After hearing the concerns of a working group of students, staff and faculty examining the university’s procurement process, the CU System announced that none of the CU campuses would be required to use Colorado Correctional Industries as an exclusive furniture provider.
  • Action No. 5: Complete a review of campus police policies and procedures to align with best community and campus practices. The Community Safety Task Force convened in August and recently announced plans to issue recommendations in January after a community input gathering period. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas (deadline Dec. 30) with the task force.
  • Action No. 6: Charge faculty with developing an antiracism module for first-year students. ODECE and the CU 101 working group collaborated over the summer to develop the module after gathering input on its effectiveness from student focus groups. This module was made available to first-year students during the 2020 Fall Welcome. In addition, Ethnic Studies developed a free Coursera antiracism course for the campus community.
  • Action No. 7: Continue engagement among the CU Police Department, student government and students of color organizations. CUPD has worked to establish more trust, transparency and accountability between the department and the campus community; it is consulting with the Center for Policing Equity and other external partners and meeting with students to gain their insights on how the department can work more effectively to build a more inclusive campus police department.
  • Action No. 8: Form the Council for Community and Inclusion and begin implementing the recommendations in the IDEA Plan. The CCI was renamed as the IDEA Council and is advocating for strategies that enhance the recruitment and retention of diverse students, staff and faculty as its 2020-21 priorities.