Published: July 28, 2021

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

New senior vice chancellor for DEI to join campus community this fall

Sonia DeLuca Fernández will join our campus community on Sept. 1 as the university’s senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

As a member of the chancellor’s leadership team, DeLuca Fernández will provide strategic direction for the university’s broader DEI initiatives, programs and strategies to improve the campus culture. In a July 6 announcement, Chancellor Phil DiStefano said he was impressed with her scholarly work, change management experience, and her track record for building relationships with internal and external stakeholders to support institutional change.

Currently, DeLuca Fernández serves as associate vice provost for educational equity at The Pennsylvania State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in African American studies and a master’s degree in social foundations of education, both from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Michigan.

In explaining why she chose to come to CU Boulder, DeLuca Fernández said she was “drawn by the authentic commitment of both leadership and the community to cultural change and by the campus’s willingness to invest resources, imagination and energy into that change.”

IDEA Council prioritizes IDEA Plan recommendations

The IDEA Council—the advisory body of students, faculty and staff tasked with prioritizing the recommendations of the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan—continues its work this summer.

Last week, council members approved a recommendation from the plan that will ask the Boulder Faculty Assembly to begin the work of determining how best to incorporate a diversity, equity and inclusion requirement into the faculty annual merit evaluation process—similar to the DEI core competency for staff.

The goal is to establish consistent methods for evaluating efforts to advance DEI in the annual faculty evaluation process in the areas of service, research and/or teaching.

The council is also poised to discuss several new recommendations in the near term that address issues ranging from leadership accountability and faculty mentoring to enhanced support and professional development for staff.

Campus supports DACA recipients following federal ruling

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries at CU Boulder and their families received messages of support from members of the campus community after a federal judge in Texas ruled the program illegal—a decision that could ultimately prompt an appeal and broader review by the U.S. Supreme Court, legal experts say.

Current DACA recipients won’t be affected by the July 16 ruling, but the judge in the case ordered the Department of Homeland Security to stop accepting new DACA applications. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, however, which is part of Homeland Security, can continue to process renewal applications.

The case that led to the ruling earlier this month has been pending since 2018, when Texas and nine other states filed a lawsuit to halt the program, arguing that the executive branch overstepped its discretionary authority when it created DACA in 2012.

CU Boulder law professor Violeta Chapin, who runs an immigration clinic at Wolf Law, and her law students assist DACA beneficiaries with application renewals free of charge. Chapin encourages those who need to renew DACA applications to do so in a timely manner.

The recent ruling, she said, “does not command the Department of Homeland Security to take any enforcement action against any DACA recipient, and it does not strip anyone of their current DACA status in any way.”

The Supreme Court has not ruled on the legality of DACA, but Chapin and other legal experts are hopeful the latest ruling could encourage Congress to act on the legal status of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers.

Following the Texas decision, University of Colorado System President Todd Saliman and more than 400 other higher education, business and civic leaders signed a letter in support of DACA, calling for congressional action. Read the full list of signatories.

Bill provides in-state tuition to Indigenous students with historical ties to Colorado

Indigenous students from tribal communities with historical ties to Colorado are now eligible to receive in-state tuition under a bill the governor signed into law on June 28.

Colorado lawmakers passed into law Senate Bill 21-029, or the Colorado American Indian Tribes In-state Tuition bill, during the 2021 legislative session.

Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill at the Denver Indian Center and CU Regent Emerita Irene Griego, who supported in-state tuition for Indigenous students, attended the signing ceremony.

With guidance and support from the CU Board of Regents and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, CU Boulder is working to implement the tuition benefits allowed in the bill as quickly as possible.

During testimony before legislators in February, Griego said, “We at CU recognize and affirm the ties these nations have to their traditional homelands and the many Indigenous people who thrive in this place––alive and strong. We also acknowledge the painful history of ill treatment and forced removal that has had a profoundly negative impact on Native nations.”

The former regent also told lawmakers that it was “incumbent upon institutions in Colorado, especially at CU, to put action behind our words,” and that a critical action step is to “ensure we are providing educational opportunities for Native students, faculty and staff and advancing our mission to understand the history and contemporary lives of Native peoples.”

Colorado is the traditional territory of at least 48 tribal nations, including the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Pueblo, Shoshone and Ute.

CU Upward Bound celebrates 40 years of supporting Indigenous students

Upward Bound, a federally funded program designed to help first-generation, low-income students graduate from high school and transition into college, is celebrating 40 years of success at CU Boulder this year.

Since 1981, the CU Upward Bound program has worked with more than 4,000 Indigenous high school students from tribal nations across the United States.

Community partners have shifted over time, and the program currently works with six tribal nations in Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Arizona and Utah. Those tribal nations include the Jemez Pueblo, the Navajo Nation, the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Ramah Navajo Reservation, the Southern Ute Reservation and the Ute Mountain Ute community.

About 76% of students who participate in CU Boulder’s Upward Bound program graduate from high school and attend college. The program is the university’s longest-running precollege outreach program, one of many for middle and high school students led by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE).

Each year, ODECE serves about 1,400 first-generation, low-income students and their families around Colorado and beyond through all its precollege outreach programs

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.

  • Resources: University Libraries offers a growing list of resources, including more information about this year’s Buffs One Read selection, American Like Me: Reflections on LIfe Between Cultures, by award-winning actress, producer, director and activist America Ferrera. Watch Ferrera’s riveting TED Talk, “My Identity is a Superpower—Not an Obstacle.”
  • Programs: The Center for Teaching and Learning is offering August programs focused on creating inclusive classrooms, including the Equitable Teaching Conference and Fall Intensive, an annual workshop series to support instructors at the outset of the academic year. Workshops are designed to help instructors teach, access professional development opportunities and explore nonacademic jobs.
  • ODECE: More information is available via the ODECE website, and members of the campus community can subscribe to the office’s newsletter for updates on programs, events and initiatives.
  • Campus DEI Efforts: A wrap-up of the campus’s DEI efforts and progress during the past year is available online.