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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 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, they 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, then 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 to begin working in conjunction with the The Cultural Center 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. Both are core values of the University.
  • 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, 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:

Divisional/Departmental actions:

Select IE Accomplishments

Winter 2016

Sturm College of Law Stands in Solidarity Against Discrimination
The Faculty and Staff of the Sturm College of Law have penned an open letter standing in solidarity with students, staff, and faculties across the nation in opposition to racial, religious, and cultural discrimination on college campuses, including the University of Denver. The full letter can be read here.

Fall 2015

Making Excellence Inclusive: Diversity Considerations for the Classroom
On 9/11/15 this session explored the concept of Inclusive Excellence and the implications it has for teaching and learning in a variety of higher educational settings. This interactive workshop exposed 35 participants to a variety of pedagogical approaches that link inclusion to teaching excellence.

Dr. Jack Dovidio Lecturediscussed his expertise and research with DU faculty, staff, and students on implicit bias. Three separate events, including a luncheon attended by over 100 members of the campus community were held.

Making Excellence Inclusive: Implication for Diversity and Internationalization in Higher Education
Dr. Alma Clayton-Pedersen to DU to discuss inclusive excellence. Dr. Clayton-Pedersen’s talk was well received and highly attended. She also facilitated an inclusive excellence training for DU Senior Staff members later that day.

Race, Class, & College Access: Achieving Diversity in a Shifting Legal Landscape
Joint program from ODI and the Morgridge College of Education that featured Dr. Lorelle Espinosa and Dr. Matthew Gaertner reporting findings from their American Council on Education report on the use of race in admissions in a shifting legal landscape. The event drew nearly 75 participants.

Making Excellence Inclusive in Faculty Hiring
Associate deans, assistant deans, and department chairs were invited to take part in a presentation on Making Excellence Inclusive in Faculty Hiring in order to attract, recruit, and retain a highly qualified and diverse faculty. 40 participants attended this session.

DU Community Conversation: Campus Racial climate and Current Events at the University of Missouri-Columbia
In response to the events at Mizzou, ODI and The Cultural Center hosted a community conversation on 11/11/2015 to discuss increasing concerns around the country and at DU regarding the racial climate on college campuses. Over 100 students, faculty and staff participated in this dialogue.

The Culturally Engaging Campus Environment Project
On 12/4/15 ODI, The Cultural Center, and Student Life; sponsored a talk by Dr. Sam Museus on his research related to creating culturally engaging campus environments. Over 100 DU faculty and staff attended this presentation.

The Peace-Circle Workshop
From 12/7/15 to 12/9/15, thirty staff members participated in a training on deep listening, compassion and empathy building, as well as more effective communication.

Latino Leadership Institute
Graduated its first cohort in December 2015. The curriculum and outcomes have been so impressive that the interest has grown dramatically and now two cohorts will be run annually.

Community Relations with the Black Leadership in Denver
The Chancellor presented our strategic plan to a group of major black leaders in the Denver community and received their feedback which has been integrated.

June 2015

Chancellor's State of Inclusive Excellence at the University of Denver