DEI Action Plan Update - November 16, 2021

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 March 2021 and November 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.

Classroom with windows in the library


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

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    We have outlined shared definitions.

    As we prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, we must also consider how justice plays a central role in our shared success. Justice requires action and a specific focus on how an intersectional lens leads us to equity for all. Justice Defined: Justice comes from recognizing and acknowledging barriers to opportunities along with realities of oppression found in systems and practices that have led to disparities along various elements of intersecting identities. To strive for justice as we move forward collectively, we aim to build structures and engage in practices that encourage thriving and feelings of equitable ownership for all individuals and communities that comprise our university.

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    We honored our Native students and Native community members.

    This past spring, the Native Student Alliance hosted a blanket wrapping ceremony for our graduating Native students. In collaboration with alumni and community partners, DU students and staff organized a socially distanced New Beginnings Pow Wow and Community Feed to extend appreciation and gratitude to the local Denver Native and Indigenous community for their support. These annual gatherings pivoted gracefully to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic. We also continue to work with our tribal leaders in building a Sand Creek Massacre memorial on campus. This is an important step in recognizing DU’s history and moving toward reconciliation. We will be sharing a fuller update about the progress made regarding our Native American and Indigenous commitments early in the new year.

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    We launched a new Latinx Center website.

    We continue to support Latinx faculty and graduate students through DU’s Latinx Center. The center shares the stories of DU’s Latinx faculty on its new website.

Garden ponds


Give DEI power, authority, and accountability

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    We are expanding the scope of DEI at DU from the Office of DEI to a divisional approach where DEI work across the entire university might be better organized and executed collaboratively.

    This shift allows for better capacity-building as the division establishes programs, policies, and processes that embody DU’s values of and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.  

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    We continue to support our DEI Fellows.

    We continue to support our cohort of DEI Fellows who are making important contributions in their units. Since they began their fellowship in 2020, DU’s DEI Fellows have established committees and conducted trainings leading to improved cultures and climates across campus. The Fellows are also engaged in trainings themselves that give them additional knowledge and capacity to impact DEI in their units.

Univeristy hall tower at night


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

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    We supported undergraduate student DEI training.

    Just over 80% of first-year, first-time undergraduate students completed a DEI training module as a part of their orientation training this summer. This is consistent with the 2020 completion rate, which was the first time DU implemented this training.

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    We are evaluating employee DEI training.

    Currently, the Division of DEI, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX, Human Resources and Inclusive Communities, and Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence are collaborating to make sure each part of the university has access to effective DEI training.

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    We continue to support the work of diversity recruitment.

    The Division of DEI hosts weekly trainings for faculty search committee members, engaging them in conversation regarding process and bias. Search committee trainings for staff positions have been moved online and can be completed here. Our recruitment efforts have led to success in creating a more diverse workforce and incoming class. Of all the faculty hired just prior to academic year 2020-2021, 29.8% are faculty of color. Of all new staff hired, 36.1% are staff of color. And for fall 2021, our first-time undergraduate class is the most diverse in our history with students of color making up 27.9% of the population. As well, 28.9% of our graduate student population are students of color.

Group photo of the Black Community Mixer


Build support specifically for our Black community

Since our last update, funding was renewed for DU’s Black Community Experience Coordinator. Dr. Andriette Jordan-Fields has led our Black Community Initiatives (BCIs) with programming and resources that directly support our Black community members at DU. For ongoing updates, please visit the Black Community Initiatives website. Since March, there have been many accomplishments in this area:

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    We celebrated Juneteenth together.

    This past June, BCI organized the DU Juneteenth event in collaboration with the Black Community Advisory Board’s student affairs committee, the Black Graduate Student Association, the Black Alumni Association, and the Vicki Myhren Gallery. This hybrid event brought over 125 DU community members together to celebrate emancipation with art and unity.

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    We provided mental health support.

    In May 2021, BCI established Emotional Emancipation Circles. These groups are culturally grounded and community-defined support groups designed to help heal the trauma caused by the scars of those who endorse white supremacy. The 40 participants shared stories, deepened their understanding of the impact of historical forces on the self to the community, and learned wellness skills to support both self-care and community care.

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    We strengthened our Black community groups.

    BCI is playing a supporting role as two campus groups bring themselves back into prominence. Black@DU works to provide an atmosphere of cultural and social networking among Black staff and faculty at the University of Denver. The Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) provides and facilitates advocacy, community, resource-sharing, and professional development for the intellectual growth and development of Black graduate students at DU. BCI worked with these groups and others to offer social gatherings where DU's Black community can come together. There are plans to host such an event each quarter.

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    We are connecting and collaborating with the Denver community.

    BCI has partnered with the ACLU of Colorado, the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Black Women for Political Action and the Western Union Black Advisory Board to host events and programming for the DU community.

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Launch university-wide programming to explore a more equitable future

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    We funded more proposals through anti-racism grant initiative.

    We will continue to accept proposals through the end of February 2022.

    Learn more and apply here.


    Funded proposals since March:

    • Anti-racism and decolonization in higher ed hosted by Religious Studies and the Iliff Joint PhD program.
    • Anti-racism starting with an empathy training hosted by Business and Financial Affairs.
    • Anti-racism as art in Another Angle: “Asian-American” Art hosted by the Global Contemporary Art department.
    • Anti-racism as in a visual medium in No More Stolen Sisters: Film Screening, Panel Discussion, and Art Exhibit hosted by the Native Student Alliance and University Libraries.
    • Anti-Racism and intercultural development inventory hosted by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
    • Anti-racism reflecting justice training hosted by the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.