Published: April 28, 2022

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.

In this issue

IDEA Council members discuss Campus Culture Survey, other DEI issues with university leaders

IDEA Council members met with university leaders on April 22 to discuss the Campus Culture Survey and the campus’s next steps for action planning to address the issues identified through the survey, which students, staff and faculty participated in last fall.

The IDEA Council is prioritizing recommendations included in the IDEA Plan, the campus’s blueprint for creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community.

On May 23, the IDEA Council will hold its first public forum, and students, staff and faculty are invited to attend the event at the University Memorial Center or via Zoom.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano, Provost Russell Moore and COO Patrick O’Rourke sat down with council members in Norlin Library for a frank discussion about the campus culture. The group also shared their thoughts about the ongoing efforts needed to effect meaningful and positive change for current and future minoritized and historically underrepresented students, staff and faculty seeking a sense of belonging and community at CU Boulder.

Several council members shared deeply personal stories about their experiences at CU Boulder as students, staff and faculty of color and as international scholars working, teaching and studying on a predominantly white American college campus.

“The experiences some of the council members shared with us were sad and disappointing but also powerful, moving and important,” said DiStefano, who shared with the group his own story as a first-generation scholar and the challenges he faced as a young man. “Their stories underscored the critical importance of the work taking place across our campus to recruit, support and retain underrepresented students, staff and faculty and to ensure they believe—truly believe—this is a place where authenticity supports community.”

The university’s top three executive leaders committed to holding academic and administrative units accountable for advancing DEI through campus action planning and encouraged council members to hold them accountable as well as they engaged in the process.

“It was a productive meeting because council members asked our university’s top three leaders direct, and sometimes pointed, questions about how they will personally support DEI priorities on our campus over the coming years,” said council co-chair Teresa Hernández, talent acquisition diversity, equity and inclusion recruitment program manager in Human Resources.

Also in attendance were Sonia DeLuca Fernández, senior vice chancellor for DEI, who introduced the campus leaders to the council; Robert McDonald, dean of University Libraries, who welcomed campus leaders and council members to Norlin Library; and council co-chairs Lisa Flores, a communication professor and associate dean of DEI in the College of Media, Communications and Information; and Hernández, who provided the group with additional updates and guidance. Council members also discussed upcoming recommendations by graduate students, and more information about the recommendations is forthcoming.

CU Boulder looks toward next steps for advancing DEI following Campus Culture Survey

The campus’s academic and administrative unit leaders will embark soon on an action-planning process to advance greater diversity, equity and inclusion in their areas of responsibility following the April 7 release of the Campus Culture Survey results.

The survey results, the campus’s five diversity, equity and inclusion goals inspired by the IDEA Plan, and other initiatives and resources will provide unit leaders with a basis for creating action plans in support of the campus’s DEI priorities during the upcoming academic year.

Survey results and more information about the campus’s next steps are available on the campus’s new DEI website.

Over the next several months, staff DEI consultants from the office of Senior Vice Chancellor for DEI Sonia DeLuca Fernández will begin working with the planning units, leading workshops and unit-specific discussions for action planning, assessment and proposal writing for Impact Grants.

Last fall, 73% of staff, 59% of faculty, 48% of graduate students and 30% of undergraduate students responded to survey questions about sense of belonging, connection and community, feeling valued and respected, and about experiences with discrimination, hostile treatment and protected-class harassment, including sexual harassment.

HHMI names CU Boulder an inaugural member of its Inclusive Excellence 3 Learning Community

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has named CU Boulder a member of its inaugural cohort of institutions working to support greater diversity, equity and inclusion in science and research across the United States.

The institute recognized CU Boulder’s HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 Learning Community (IE3) leadership team for working in collaboration with other institutions in preparing to implement collaborative projects aimed at increasing DEI in U.S. science and research.

According to the HHMI, one of the nation’s most pressing challenges will be to “maximize scientific impact by building a workforce that fully reflects the demographics of our increasingly diverse nation.” Nationally, the diversity of students entering college intending to study science, technology, engineering and math reflects the nation’s population well, “but this promising representation changes to significant underrepresentation by the time students leave with a bachelor’s degree,” the institute said in a news release.

“Much of the loss of diversity in STEM occurs during the undergraduate introductory experience,” according to the HHMI.

To offset these experiences, the institute’s IE3 initiative focuses on these student experiences by examining ways to make the content of introductory STEM curricula more inclusive; evaluating the effectiveness and inclusivity of STEM teaching; and creating inclusive experiences for students transferring from two-year to four-year institutions.

In early 2020, the HHMI reviewed 354 proposals and selected 108 finalists that expressed a commitment to creating capacity for inclusion, and 104 institutions accepted an invitation to join the IE3 Learning Community. CU Boulder is part of a cluster of 15 universities focused on creating effective partnerships between two- and four-year institutions.

Over the past year, leadership teams from the universities belonging to one of several national clusters have been discussing ways of dismantling barriers to success.

This spring, each cluster will design a collaborative project that will result in a six-year grant that the HHMI will award as early as fall 2022.

Faculty member, grad student awarded President’s DEI Award

Sona Dimidjian, Donna Mejia and Sonia DeLuca Fernández

Left to right: Sona Dimidjian, psychology and neuroscience professor and director of the Renée Crown Wellness Institute; Donna Mejia, associate professor of dance; and Sonia DeLuca Fernández, senior vice chancellor for DEI

Areyana Proctor with her father and sister and Sonia DeLuca Fernández

Second from left: CMCI undergraduate student Areyana Proctor, who won an honorable mention for the President’s DEI Award, with her father, sister and Sonia DeLuca Fernández, senior vice chancellor for DEI

Read more about the 2021–22 President’s DEI Award and this year’s finalists and honorable mentions in CU Connections, the CU system administration’s faculty and staff newsletter.

Donna Mejia, an associate professor of dance, and Paige Massey, a doctoral student in the philosophy department, received the CU President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award during an April 25 reception in Denver.

In conferring the award to Mejia, the president’s office recognized her “far-reaching and deeply impactful” contributions to the CU community and beyond. Recently, for example, Mejia shared her “Fumble Forward” teachings with a group of Denver 7 employees during a staff “lunch-and-learn” session at the local ABC affiliate’s downtown Denver offices.

Mejia, a faculty fellow and member of the Renée Crown Wellness Institute’s executive committee and the chancellor’s inaugural scholar of health and wellness, received the award for her leadership in support of the recruitment, retention and development of students, faculty and staff from historically underreprsented groups and community outreach “that inspires collaborative learning across race, culture, language, history and more.”

Massey, who became a philosophy graduate student in August 2019, received the award in recognition of her “time, talents and skills to advancing DEI,” with work that centers on supporting students from historically minoritized groups and increasing access to higher education in the field of philosophy.

She serves as the chapter president of CU Boulder’s Minorities and Philosophy group and founded and coordinates a mentorship program that pairs undergraduate students with graduate and faculty mentors.

HR hosts employee workshops to build DEI skills

Human resources is offering spring diversity, equity and inclusion workshops, including one on May 12 that will focus on empowering women of color who are seeking to better understand the complexity of intersecting identities to achieve mental health and wellness.

Carla Eugene, a licensed Faculty & Staff Assistance Program counselor, will lead the workshop, which will take place from noon to 1 p.m., and will center around the book Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America.

Based on the African American Women’s Voices Project, “shifting” refers to the pressure experienced by Black women to compromise their true selves as they navigate racial and gender bigotry in the United States, according to the book.

The book focuses on the experiences of Black women, but Eugene noted many other women of color have experienced shifting as well. Her workshop will help participants leverage the sociocultural phenomenon as a tool to acknowledge their authentic self-identities.

Participants will learn tips outlined in the book, how to manage anxiety, depression and other reactions resulting from shifting and normalize the concept as part of the experiences of Black, Indigenous and other people of color in the work world and elsewhere.

Learn more about this and other HR workshops.

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.

This year, Chancellor Philip DiStefano and other campus leaders urge every member of our community to join in learning more about diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism and to work continuously together to address these challenges more actively and in ways that can help authentically transform our campus culture in the coming year.

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