Diversity and Inclusive Excellence strengthen our community and are at the heart of our mission of teaching and learning, research and designing knowledge, and service to the public good. Building a stronger culture of Inclusive Excellence at the University of Denver is a shared vision and a shared responsibility. As we build upon the progress others have helped us to achieve, we must also recognize that there will always be more to do—and that we must continue to advocate for and create positive change.
Over the last several years, faculty, staff and students have worked successfully to achieve greater diversity and make DU a more inclusive environment. The annual Diversity Summit is just one expression of that work, representing countless hours and passionate commitment to issues of social justice, access and support in higher education and more.
Reports and statements analyzing the evolving state of diversity and inclusivity on our campus have informed key administrative changes, including the additions of three new positions (Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence; Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion; and the Diversity Recruitment and Retention Leader in Human Resources) and the new University-wide Chancellor's Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee. We have begun to increase training across campus to ensure fair and equitable hiring practices and encourage inclusive pedagogy.
We have encouraged campus-wide conversations and events. Some of these, such as last year's 20th anniversary of the Center for Multicultural Excellence, are celebratory in nature, while others, such as recent organized conversations about racial tensions and student activism at campuses across the country, are more difficult. But all of these discussions have helped us to have open dialogue about diversity and Inclusive Excellence at DU. I believe this work has all contributed to our ability to look forward with determination and with hope.
We need to accomplish much more to achieve the culture of Inclusive Excellence to which we aspire. I hope that we can begin a community-wide conversation so that all our decisions and interactions are made in light of a shared mission, a common purpose and clear values. We need and are working toward stronger education and training, more equitable policies and fair practices and a robust system of accountability for our commitments. But through and above all the education, practices and systems of accountability, we need to embrace a common mission to be an inclusive community that fosters respect and dignity for every person and embraces both individuality and the common bonds that tie us together.
All universities and colleges struggle to provide access and support to students. All universities are challenged to provide real equity of opportunity. All universities long to create morale among community members that welcomes new members and supports existing members.
By being part of the 2016 Diversity Summit, you are already demonstrating your commitment making our university one in which each one of us is proud to belong and one which others lift up as a model in American higher education. May we learn and grow through the Summit and carry its values with us in the work we do all year long.