Updates on the University of Denver’s implementation of the DEI Action Plan

The University of Denver launched our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan in August 2020 after campus-wide consultation and feedback. The following updates represent the steps we have taken to bring our commitments into action between August 2020 and March 2021. Importantly, DU recognizes, especially at the unit and college level, individuals and committees have been supporting DEI work for years or even decades previously. We will continue to provide routine updates on how we are making DU a diverse, inclusive and equitable institution.

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Improve how we talk about, understand and measure DEI at DU

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    We have established a DEI Steering Committee.

    In January, we launched a DEI Steering Committee. Members include the chancellor, provost and DEI leadership from across campus, including a graduate and undergraduate student. The committee meets quarterly to examine and report on our DEI Action Plan. The steering committee has formed five working groups to continue to bring our commitments into action.

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    We’re directly engaging students in leadership roles.

    In addition to student representation on the DEI Steering Committee, in the spring term, the steering committee will assemble a DEI Student Advisory Board comprised of undergrad and grad students. The advisory board will partner with the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) to engage the five working groups of the DEI Steering Committee.

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    We are providing routine and transparent updates on our Native American and Indigenous Initiatives.

    Earlier this month, we shared another detailed update on our work to improve support for our Native American and Indigenous community members and our commitment to reckoning with and learning from our complex and painful history. We will continue to provide routine updates on this work.



Give DEI power, authority, and accountability

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    We have installed DEI leadership at a campus-wide level.

    We have appointed Chris Whitt, our new vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, who will join the community on April 1. Overseeing ODEI, Chris will ensure DU’s strategy and priorities are in line with our commitments to being a diverse and welcoming campus.

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    In addition to existing unit- and college-level DEI leadership roles, the following new positions were recently created:

    • The Graduate School of Social Work has appointed Michele Hanna as associate dean of DEI.
    • The Sturm College of Law invested in a re-positioned associate dean of DEI position held by Professor Lexi Freeman.
    • The Graduate School of Professional Psychology appointed Travis Heath as director of DEI.
    • Deans and vice chancellors nominated 10 faculty and staff as ODEI Fellows to help grow DEI leadership in units across campus. 
    • The Korbel School of International Studies appointed Kristen Noble as DEI program manager and Marie Berry as chair of the school’s DEI committee.  
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    We have established and supported new DEI committees, in addition to other long-standing unit- and college-level committees.

    ODEI has recently partnered in the creation of DEI committees in Information Technology, Career and Professional Development, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, the Health and Counseling Center, Business and Financial Affairs, Marketing and Communications, University Advancement, Morgridge College of Education, Daniels College of Business, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University College and the Sturm College of Law.



Invest in and provide training for students, staff, and faculty

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    Strengthened mentoring and learning opportunities for minoritized students, building upon E-STEM, NSF and URC support.

    Together, ODEI, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science and the undergraduate research program awarded nearly $100k in summer grants over the course of several years for racially minoritized students to collaborate with DU faculty in research labs through DU’s E-STEM Summer Research Initiative.

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    We have created new mandatory training for faculty and staff.

    ODEI, Human Resources and Inclusive Communities and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX launched the first mandatory trainings designed to develop and grow DEI and anti-harassment competencies for all employees at DU. There was a 100% completion rate by the chancellors’ and provosts’ cabinets and strong completion rates among all campus constituencies.

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    We have provided faculty support for more equitable classrooms.

    ODEI, the vice provost of faculty affairs, and the Office of Teaching and Learning—with the full endorsement of the Faculty Senate—have provided support for all DU faculty to design more inclusive and equitable classrooms through the required Faculty Institute for Inclusive Teaching (FIIT).

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    We are supporting the growth of minoritized faculty in STEM.

    ODEI and the provost have been developing a ‘target of excellence’ hiring policy for the university. To re-structure the recruitment and retention of minoritized faculty in the STEM disciplines, DU has applied to the NSF ADVANCE program for grant support. DU is also involved in the national Aspire Alliance Institutional Change (iChange) initiative.



Build support specifically for our Black community

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    We have appointed a dedicated Black community experience coordinator.

    In January, we appointed Andriette Jordan-Fields to serve as DU’s first Black experience coordinator. Andriette will provide recommendations for DU to better support our Black community members. She has already hosted 24 listening sessions and meetings with DU’s Black students, staff, faculty and alumni. Next, she turns her focus to supporting graduate students as they reinstate the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA).

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    We have convened a Black Community Advisory Board.

    Andriette, along with Stephanie O’Malley, associate vice chancellor of government and community relations, convened a Black Community Steering Committee to create a Black Community Advisory Board which has been charged with providing advice and guidance on resolving issues and policies that contribute to inequity and the disenfranchisement of DU’s Black community members. This board’s work will begin in April and will be ongoing. The board’s membership will be announced soon.

Holocaust Memorial


Launch university-wide programming to explore a more equitable future

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    We held a successful (and virtual) 20th Diversity Summit.

    Between January and March 2021, over the course of seven weeks, DU explored and examined anti-racism through our annual Diversity Summit. The Summit hosted 34 virtual events, including four additional DU community events with 105 speakers and 1,555 attendees. If you missed any part of the Summit, you can catch up at the Diversity Summit’s YouTube playlist

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    ODEI funded three proposals through its anti-racism initiative.

    • Anti-racism in legal education
    • Anti-racism in clinical psychology curricula
    • Anti-racism and its impact on CAHSS’ promotion and tenure decisions

    ODEI will continue to accept proposals through the end of May, with special considerations to those that address anti-Asian and anti-immigrant racism, violence against Native American and Indigenous women and those that address commemorating or reflecting on Juneteenth. Learn more and apply here

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    We supported a student-led effort for an Action Book Club.

    In the fall term, students in the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Korbel School of International Studies, and the Graduate School of Social Work launched a campus-wide series of reading groups and related curriculum. Known as the Action Book Club (ABC), these reading groups participate in conversations over the meaning and application of anti-racist practices.


    ABC’s co-chairs, Katie Golieb and Klaudia Neufeld (with the support and guidance of MCE faculty), developed a qualitative study to inform the development of the next ABC program (expected in fall 2021) and to prepare a conference proposal for submission to the University Council for Educational Administration Graduate Student Summit.


    The ABC team has asked that we communicate gratitude to all ABC survey participants who nominated anti-racist scholars, books and resources and who welcomed student, faculty and staff leaders to join their efforts.