Since joining CU Denver in September 2021, Director of Black Student Services Precious Palmer has heard from Black students, faculty, and staff a desire for more opportunities for connection on campus and in the community.
Thanks to the launch of CU Denver’s new Black Serving Operational Team, Palmer is excited to focus on that work by collaborating with individuals across the university to brainstorm and implement sustainable programs, from mentorship opportunities to career networking events and more. “My strategy has always been to try to help people make lifelong connections and have experiences they will carry with them throughout their lives,” Palmer said. “When they think about their time at CU Denver, I want them to think about the people who connected them from the beginning to the end.”
Formed this month, the team is charged with developing and recommending an action plan to ensure Black members of the campus community can equitably experience what CU Denver has to offer, with a focus on identifying and addressing structural and environmental barriers to success. The team’s work, along with that of the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Operational Team, Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Operational Team, Age Friendly University Operational Team, and Accessibility Operational Team, exemplifies the CU Denver’s commitment to Goal 1 of its 2030 Strategic Plan, to become the nation’s first equity-serving institution.
“A critically vital way we are going to achieve Goal 1 is if we invest the time, money, and resources into these equity-serving team initiatives, especially during times of budgetary realignment,” said Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias.
Though the Black Serving Operational Team is still in its early phase, Farias and Palmer have identified clear goals for areas specific to students, faculty, and staff. They include but are not limited to:
- Identifying grant opportunities and realignment of resources to support students holistically, including equitable access to student aid, access to food and personal hygiene products, technology support, mental health, and other critical needs.
- Identifying proven practices and implementing programs that provide students with increased access to high-impact practices such as internships, research, study abroad, and service-learning experiences.
- Reviewing institutional policies and procedures to identify barriers to the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, supervision, and promotion of Black faculty and staff, and building in hiring and performance metrics/data dashboards for campus leadership that advance the hiring, retention, and promotion goals for Black faculty and staff.
- Instituting a process to collect disaggregated data to better serve the diversity of the Black population and campus community and staying informed on the campus climate to address racial bias and experiences of discrimination.
The team will meet monthly to move its work forward. Palmer will also meet with leads from all operational teams every month to share ideas and ensure the campus’ equity work aligns.
A few of Palmer’s immediate priorities are exploring more mentorship opportunities and community partnerships, and better connecting students to faculty, staff, and alumni. “I’m very passionate about career development and professional development and have had chats with a lot of employers who are always looking for diverse students,” she said. “Having a designated team that is committed to doing this work is so important.”
Meet the Members
- Chelynn Randolph, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, SEHD
- Kanani Abera, Student
- Precious Palmer, Director of Black Student Services
- Renée Wilkins-Clark, PhD, Assistant Professor, SEHD
- Tracey Adams, Director of Student Success, Undergraduate Experience
- Executive Champion: Antonio Farias, PhD, Vice Chancellor for DEI
- Project Manager: Rachel Brown, Strategic Implementation Team
- Grant Writer: Terry Hughes, Executive Director, Office for DEI
- Administrative Support: Miguel Morris, Executive Assistant, Office for DEI