Reorganization of Colorado Women’s College
Dear DU community members,
The mission of Colorado Women’s College (CWC) is to Educate for Equity and Activate Change. The news we are sharing with you today introduces a new chapter for CWC, and provides insight into our thinking, hopes and plans.
The financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have compelled the University of Denver, like most other colleges and universities, to look for opportunities to generate new revenue and reduce costs. In June, we announced changes to several areas of the university, one of which was Colorado Women’s College. Since then, we have been collaborating with CWC’s team and partners across campus to restructure CWC. Our goal has been to amplify the transformational impact CWC has in the lives of students and the world, while also economizing resources.
When CWC was founded in 1888, higher education largely served men. Today, women comprise 53 percent of undergraduate college students across the United States. At DU, women represent 54 percent of undergraduate students and 64 percent of graduate students (as of academic year 2019-2020). Accordingly, the focus has shifted to making higher education more accessible and equitable for women from all socio-economic backgrounds and to ensure that when they graduate, they find a world where they can realize their most fulfilling aspirations.
DU recognized this evolving need in 2015 when we ceased our degree-granting programs at CWC in favor of researching and piloting programs focused on accelerating the advancement of women and equity. The result has been the establishment of two vibrant, game-changing programs: the Colorado Women’s College Leadership Scholars and Equity Labs. Today, we are announcing the integration of these two programs into other units within the University—a move that will ultimately provide additional resources and stability to the CWC programs.
Colorado Women’s College Leadership Scholars serves undergraduate women at DU who are first-generation college students and/or from minoritized communities. This program, which has grown to be one of DU’s largest gift-funded scholarship programs, will thrive in Academic Affairs and join many of DU’s best cohort-model learning initiatives, including the prestigious PLP. The Scholars group is currently supported and mentored by many of CWC’s alumnae. With a commitment of support from Advancement, we hope to make even stronger connections between our CWC Leadership Scholars and CWC alumnae. Important traditions such as Hanging of the Greens and reunions will be supported into the future. Additionally, the Advancement team is dedicated to providing support for alumnae communication to ensure alumnae are connected with the CWC community.
Equity Labs is an immersive, experiential program designed to shift perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matters and create lasting change in the corporate and non-profit organizational space. Equity Labs' new home will be the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), under the leadership of Dean Amanda Moore McBride and Equity Labs' Executive Director Maggie Red. We are especially excited about the critically important mission alignment and expertise in DEI and social entrepreneurship that GSSW will bring to Equity Labs. This move promises a new era of growth and thriving for Equity Labs, which has just launched a new website, EquityIs.org.
CWC Leadership Scholars and Equity Labs are thriving because of the leadership of Dean Ann Ayers. Ann has also spearheaded the university-wide Community + Values (C+V) initiative. In short, Dean Ayers has been a force for enormous positive change here at DU. Her vision for a university and a world where everyone can be their truest and best selves has captured our imagination and will continue to influence our community for years to come. Sadly, Ann will be leaving DU at the end of February 2021, but not before she ensures the smooth transition of Equity Labs and the Colorado Women’s College Leadership Scholars, as well as C+V, to new leaders and new homes. We are grateful for Ann’s visionary leadership and ongoing commitment to this important work.
This is a lot of news to absorb. We anticipate that you will have questions, and so we have scheduled the following opportunities for us to gather (virtually) around some relevant topics in January.
Equity Labs Information Session
(Please join us to learn more about Equity Labs)
Wednesday, January 20 | 9–10 a.m. MST
CWC Community Gathering Hosted by Chancellor Haefner and Provost Clark
(Please join us to talk about these decisions and transitions.)
Thursday, January 28 | 2–3 p.m. MST
CWC Institutional Memory & History Event
(Join us in a discussion about the enduring legacy of the CWC—from its 1888 founding to today.)
Wednesday, February 3 | 3–4:30 p.m. MST
CWC Leadership Scholars Meet & Greet
(Please join us to learn more about the CWC Leadership Scholars and to meet some of the women in the program.)
Monday, February 8 | 4–5 p.m. MST
We have also posted an online FAQ with additional information.
The current racial reckoning and the disparate impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on women and people of color remind us that we still have much work to do to achieve equity and justice. We can think of no better way to ensure DU plays its part in the changes our world must make than to more fully integrate some of the most innovative equity-based work we have on this campus as outlined in this message.
We wish you all a peaceful and rejuvenating winter break and look forward to discussing and celebrating CWC’s next chapter early in the new year.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor