|Inclusive Excellence at DU
Inclusive Excellence (IE) is the recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni constituents. More than a short-term project or single office initiative, this comprehensive approach requires a fundamental transformation of the institution by embedding and practicing IE in every effort, aspect, and level of a college or university. The goal is to make IE a habit that is implemented and practiced consistently throughout an institution.
Inclusive Excellence and the AAC&U
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) commissioned a set of scholarly papers focusing on the theory and practice of Inclusive Excellence. In the resulting three documents, the authors delineate the meaning of IE within the context of higher education; discuss how it differs from traditional notions of diversity; and encourage students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni to begin to practice the concept in order to transform their institutions. More specifically, the authors argue that institutions of higher learning need to be transformed into entities that are all-encompassing of the various dimensions of diversity that exist on college campuses.
IE comes to DU
In 2006, the University of Denver was introduced to the concept of Inclusive Excellence when Dr. Alma Clayton Pedersen, Vice President for Education and Institutional Renewal with AAC&U, delivered a keynote address at the annual DU Diversity Summit. Several months later, Chancellor Robert Coombe and Provost Gregg Kvistad asked the University’s senior leadership to embrace IE and begin working in conjunction with the Center for Multicultural Excellence to implement it at DU as a framework for DU's commitment to diversity.
Over the last several years, there has been progress in implementing IE with many deans, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni making significant contributions to the effort. Much progress has been made particularly in embedding diversity into the University’s processes, systems, mission statements, and other structural dimensions.
The concept of Inclusive Excellence moves DU away from a simplistic definition of diversity to a more inclusive, comprehensive, and omnipresent notion of inclusiveness that has the following features:
- Inclusiveness and Excellence are interdependent, as opposed to the traditional perspective that separates the two concepts. To practice inclusiveness is excellence.
- Shifts the responsibility for diversity and inclusiveness to everyone (administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni) on campus as opposed to one unit or department shouldering the responsibility for diversity. A unit or person can drive the process, but every individual at DU from the Chancellor to students assumes responsibility for change.
- Shifts the university away from conceptualizing diversity as a numerical goal (numbers only) of diverse students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni to transforming the institution into a vibrant community that embeds diversity throughout the institution in multiple areas including (but not limited to): demographics (numbers), curriculum, policies, pedagogy, financial resources, leadership, hiring, student learning, marketing, technology, teaching, student advising, communications, administration, recruitment, hiring, and promotion, assessment, institutional advancement, tenure and promotion, and evaluation.
- Employs a broad and inclusive definition of diversity that includes disability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, race/ ethnicity, nationality, and other important social dimensions that are part of the campus community.
IE as ongoing DU commitment
DU continues to use the Inclusive Excellence framework to drive, inform and assess its actions as a great private institution dedicated to the public good. In addition to the work of individual units (see below), the University conducted an IE Climate Assessment in the winter/spring of 2012, piloted use of the Equity Scorecard™ with several units, developed an IE Strategic Plan (below), and is creating a central IE resources/programs website.
Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan: