Published: May 27, 2021

Editor’s note: This is the first in a monthly series of campus updates on diversity, equity and inclusion. This series will continue throughout the year.

Continuing efforts, challenges entering summer

As the campus transitions from the 2020–21 academic year to the summer ahead, CU Boulder continues its ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism initiatives while acknowledging the challenges and pain being experienced by many members of the campus and Boulder community.

“I want to first acknowledge that systemic racism and inequity continue to cause pain and suffering for communities of color on our campus and beyond. I know we have much work to do on our campus to develop a culture of belonging where everyone feels welcome,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano.

“As I reflect on the past year, I am grateful for the individuals and groups who are committed to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus. As a campus, as leaders and as individuals, we are taking steps personally and institutionally to deepen our ability to share and engage with diverse perspectives, address pressing inequities, and support the success of each member of our community. We have much more work yet to do,” the chancellor said.

New funds to sustain campus diversity, equity and inclusion work

Chancellor DiStefano this week is announcing an investment pool of $25 million over five years to support campus diversity initiatives. Recommended by Chief Financial Officer Carla Ho’a, the funds will allow for the sustained implementation of the IDEA Plan and provide support for programs that support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at CU Boulder. These newly dedicated funds will provide much-needed resources to help accelerate campus progress and sustain and grow resources that foster a welcoming and inclusive campus community.

Based upon the long-term input of our campus community and the priorities identified in the IDEA plan, areas of support for underrepresented communities on the campus will include:

  • Admission, retention and graduation
  • Financial access to higher education​
  • Mental health and wellness ​services​
  • Workforce recruitment, retention and progression​
  • Ability to establish and maintain community on campus​

With the funds identified, the chancellor will meet with the IDEA Council, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE), shared governance groups and other campus stakeholders in the coming weeks to further refine resource priorities in preparation for the onboarding of the senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion later this summer. This collaborative assessment and prioritization process will help identify how to distribute the funding in the most impactful ways. Further details will be shared through this monthly update.

The university will bolster the investment funds through complementary fundraising efforts led by the CU Boulder Office of Advancement team as the campus identifies priorities and resource needs. Budget planning in subsequent years will convert $1 million per year in continuing resources to provide a base $5 million annual budget by year five (FY 2025–26)​. The total funding will be $5 million per year, transitioning from one-time (temporary) funding in the first five years to a continuing budget after the fifth year.         

In announcing these investments, the chancellor recognized that the campus has been financially impacted by the pandemic and has experienced recent budget cuts, but that supporting anti-racism efforts and building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus are key priorities the campus cannot delay.

“We can’t afford to put off these key investments any longer,” Chancellor DiStefano said.

Updates on actions and progress during academic year 2020–21

Key areas of effort and progress made during the past academic year, many of which were part of the Chancellor’s Eight Immediate Actions to Enable Change announced last June, include:

  • Convening the IDEA Council and its work to advance the campus Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan
  • Hiring 11 new faculty members through the Faculty Diversity Action Plan (FDAP)
  • Expanding support for students from underserved communities through ODECE’s academic enrichment and scholarship programs
  • Introducing the Center for Inclusion and Social Change’s semester-long “Power of Community” series, which encouraged courage, healing and unity
  • Sustaining dialogues among academic and administrative leadership through the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) series
  • Forming a community oversight review board with the University of Colorado Police Department to foster greater collaboration and build trust between CUPD and the campus community

Last week, the campus also announced the creation of the Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS) to support teaching and research on the history and culture of people of African descent. Provost Russell Moore said the center would provide a forum for cross-campus collaboration and spur scholarly engagement at CU Boulder and beyond.

“This fulfills two vital needs: to constantly expand our scholarship to better understand the histories, cultures and experiences of people of color in the United States and across the world, and to ensure that understanding then helps inform our students’ approach to leadership, social justice and service to the community,” Moore said.

Colleges, schools and units across campus have also developed internal JEDI committees, implicit bias training, anti-racism course modules and community events to address DEI issues.

“As we move forward into the next academic year, it will be important to build on and grow the campus’s current DEI programs and initiatives in a way that enhances student learning and supports faculty and staff,” said Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement.

A wrap-up of efforts and progress during the past year is available online.

Senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion finalists

The campus is interviewing candidates for a senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion. Reporting directly to the chancellor, the senior vice chancellor will provide strategic direction, facilitation, engagement and assessment for campuswide DEI initiatives and programs in close collaboration with the chancellor, university leaders, the IDEA Council, ODECE and other campus and community stakeholders.

Last week, two of the three finalists for the senior vice chancellor for DEI had the opportunity to meet virtually with the CU Boulder community and campus stakeholder groups. The final candidate will be visiting with the campus community during the first week of June. This important hiring process is nearing its conclusion, and the chancellor plans to announce the incoming senior vice chancellor in the coming weeks.

Sustaining our practice of inclusion

Campus efforts and investments to address pressing and painful inequities at CU Boulder are only a beginning. Creating a culture of belonging will take each member of our community practicing sustained personal work to truly embrace and support diverse perspectives and identities in our community. During the summer, Chancellor DiStefano and our campus leadership team urge every member of our community to join in learning more about diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism and to continuously work together to address these issues more actively and in ways that can help authentically transform our campus in the coming year.

A growing list of resources is available through the University Libraries.

Additional information, including links to the IDEA plan, is available via the ODECE website. You can also subscribe to the ODECE newsletter for regular updates on campus DEI programs, events and initiatives.