Many small steps lead to big changes, and everyone plays a part in achieving our collective success. That was the message the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and CU Denver leadership delivered at the university’s first DEI symposium, titled “Inclusion Makes Us Stronger: Expanding Equity at CU Denver.”
The Nov. 1 event featured a keynote address from Captain Royce W. James, PhD, a physicist who works in the DEI field for the U.S. Coast Guard. Several CU Denver faculty, staff, and students were featured, including Student Government Association President Bria Combs. Breakout sessions were held on topics ranging from restorative justice to creating lasting change in DEI, best practices for diverse hiring, and why affinity groups matter. There was also a panel discussion about the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on affirmative action.
Antonio Farias, the vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, kicked off the event by asking the 220 people in attendance: What does it mean to be an equity-serving institution? He stressed the commonality in creating a space that invites, includes, and engages multiple voices across our diverse community. “It is not just about hearing those voices,” Farias said. “It’s about turning words into action.” The goal of the event, Farias said, was to inform the community about the progress made and energize faculty, staff, and students to continue working everyday toward our goal.
The day was also an opportunity to share progress in key areas. Farias announced the availability of $1 million in funding over the next two years to fuel continued engagement, research, ideation, and data as part of our push toward inclusive excellence within our student, staff, and faculty.
Chancellor Michele Marks, in particular, spoke about CU Denver’s journey to become the first equity-serving institution in the nation and recent achievements on that front. “This goal came from you—our CU Denver community,” said Marks. “I’m so proud that it leads our strategic plan.”
Recent milestones include:
- New hires, such as the campus’ first vice chancellor for DEI and a new staffer to directly support undocumented students.
- Academic investments, from elevating Ethnic Studies to be a major to funding for an endowed professorship in Jain Studies.
- The university’s new AANAPISI status, which unlocks more resources to support students across CU Denver.
- The restoration and revitalization of Ninth Street Historic Park, as well as an expansion of the Displaced Aurarian Scholarship Program.
- Impact created by joining in the formation of the Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Research Universities and the refreshed focus on CU Denver’s Latino Research Policy Center.
- Key projects like the Comprehensive Compensation Collective, and our IRC Faculty Task Force, which help us identify and ultimately reduce inequity among CU Denver faculty and staff.
“Our DEI journey is one of continuing progress,” Marks said. “It was ongoing when I got here, and it continues now. Think about how you can not only represent these ideals—but also champion them, among everyone you have the power to influence.”
Interested in knowing more about how CU Denver is achieving its mission to make education work for all? Click here to learn about the 2030 Strategic Plan.