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Celebrating Black History Month with Frank Tuitt

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Alyssa Hurst

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Alyssa Hurst
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Frank Tuitt

The University of Denver is committed to living our values of diversity and inclusion. We recognize that our community and institutional success is dependent on how well we engage and embrace the rich diversity of our faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni. With that shared value in mind, throughout this academic year, we plan to publish a series of articles in the Bridge to celebrate cultural and ethnic heritage months. In partnership with Human Resources & Inclusive Community and the Staff of Color Association (SOCA), we will feature a staff or faculty member in recognition of each heritage month, along with an event to honor one another and learn about our differences.

Frank Tuitt is DU’s senior advisor to the chancellor and provost on diversity and inclusion, and a professor of higher education at the Morgridge College of Education. Tuitt explores topics related to access and equity in higher education; teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms; and diversity and organizational transformation. His research examines issues of race, inclusive excellence and diversity in and outside the classroom. Earlier this year, Tuitt announced he plans to take a sabbatical at the end of this academic year. After that, he will consider new professional opportunities while focusing on his scholarly work. Recently, Tuitt was selected as the 2019 National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education Individual Leadership Award winner for his contributions to the understanding of diversity and inclusive excellence in higher education. 

What is something you do to celebrate your background and heritage? Are there any traditions that are particularly important to you?

Spending time with my family — especially during holidays. We are a large, close-knit family, so the tradition for us is to gather around our favorite Caribbean dishes and celebrate each other. The celebration usually ends with me and my brother playing my dad and uncle in a friendly, but competitive, game of dominoes.

Are there any places in Denver you would recommend for anyone interested in learning and connecting more to black culture?

The Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library and the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center.

Who in your life has inspired you?

My parents are my biggest inspiration. They did everything within their power to make sure their kids had a chance to succeed, and I am extremely grateful for all the sacrifices they made so that we could thrive. Additionally, I have a group of inspirational mentors who have been professional guides and sources of support for me throughout my academic career.

Tell us about your role at DU. What makes you proud looking back at your work here?

At the heart of the various roles I have been privileged to have as a professor and administrator is a commitment to helping DU become a little more inclusive, equitable and affirming for historically marginalized students, faculty and staff. Looking back at the last 15 years, what makes me most proud are the moments where I have been able to help students, staff and faculty of color in particular, but not exclusively, feel seen, appreciated and understood.

Additionally, I have been able to work with an amazing group of graduate students who are now tirelessly working in higher education institutions around the world as faculty members and administrators who share a deep passion and commitment to racial justice. I am proud of having contributed to their vocation and take comfort in the fact that they are making a difference in the lives of the people they encounter, the institutions in which they work and the communities where they live.

In an effort to make the University an inclusive and welcoming place to be, what would you like to see changed or improved?

Continue to recruit and retain more diverse students, faculty and staff. Continue to provide more opportunities for all members of the DU community to strengthen their ability to work effectively with individuals who are different from them. Increase our commitment to holding members of DU accountable for failing to embrace institutional values related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Reward those who demonstrate excellence in these areas. And finally, continue to build an infrastructure that can provide the foundation for DU’s efforts to become a more inclusive and welcoming place.

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