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Update on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts

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Jeremy Haefner

News  •

Dear DU Community Members,

Even as we are consumed with the coronavirus implications, the important work of our University continues: teaching and learning, creating knowledge that engages us with one another and our communities, and honoring our commitment to the public good. Our work to support diversity, equity and inclusion is especially important now, as crises typically put a disproportionate amount of pressure on marginalized populations. And while physical distance, in some ways, can be a great “leveler,” it also may make it harder for some people’s voices to be heard. This is why I’m writing to you today. 

In the fall of 2018, a group of students presented the administration with a set of demands regarding our efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion at DU. These demands were built on a student movement that began in 2016 and led to a community rally in 2018, where students and others shared their experiences as people of color, members of the LGBTQIA community and other historically underrepresented groups. The rally, everyone hoped, would be a watershed moment for the University; but as we know, change often comes more slowly than we hope it will. Of course, these movements have occurred throughout DU’s history, and are important reminders across the decades of the progress we have yet to make. 

Over fall and winter quarter, we have made some progress. Along with Lili Rodriguez, our vice chancellor for Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, I’ve met with student members of DU’s Joint Council, the undergraduate collection of affinity groups. I commend them for their commitment and engagement and continue to learn a great deal from them and other members of our community including our Faculty of Color and our Staff of Color Associations. I welcome fresh ideas for how we can better understand and make progress on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and help DU truly become a more welcoming environment for everyone. 

Earlier this year, I shared a message with the community about progress made on the Native American Task Force’s recommendations. I also met with our alumni affinity group, Alumni of ACTION, to further open the doors of mentoring and engagement between students and alumni.

Below are some important highlights of recent progress we have made. I hope to be able to share progress with the community regularly—clearly marking our insistent desire for a better school, a better community, a better world, for everyone. 

Please continue to stay safe and be well.


Jeremy Haefner


Updates to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Efforts by the University of Denver

Access to leadership 

  • The leaders of DU affinity groups, known as Joint Council, meet with the chancellor and other senior administration leaders each quarter. As the Chancellor’s Office and the offices of many DU vice chancellors oversee and determine the policies, procedures, and structures that directly affect students, these meetings provide a much-needed space for listening and understanding. 
  • Students are also welcome to bring concerns to the Board of Trustees through avenues such as the Campus Life and Student Success Committee. In 2019, a group of first-generation students shared their unique DU experiences with the board.
  • As of 2020, the new student engagement platform system is live and features a petition function, as requested by the Undergraduate Student Government. Students may login to their accounts to access this feature.

Training, education, and curriculum

  • In February, Director of Inclusive Teaching in the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) Valentina Iturbe-LaGrave, completed her 2020 Inclusive Teaching Impact Report. The report covers three years of programming at DU and will help the institution make informed decisions going forward. Highlights from the report: 
    • 931 faculty attended OTL events
    • 370 faculty used online OTL programming 
    • 50 faculty members attended one-on-one consultations
    • 62 development programs were offered to faculty 
  • The University is committed to mandatory faculty training through the online platform EverFI, on issues such as language, microaggressions, bias, equity, and inclusion.
  • Implicit bias training, including a first assignment, is now required for all students during orientation week.
  • Students are currently taking classes within our newly launched ethnic studies minor. A forthcoming major is dependent upon student interest/enrollment as well as employer demand.
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the provost are studying any gaps in graduation rates our underrepresented students. 
  • In addition to excellent unit-level programming across the university, Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC) now hosts the Diversity Heritage Month Lunch and Learn series as a complement to heritage offerings from our student communities, providing educational sessions in honor and celebration of the cultural diversity in our community. HRIC also partners with Marketing & Communications to develop stories that highlight DU faculty or staff members doing research or work relevant to the community being celebrated that month.

Transparency and access

  • To successfully combat bias and racial incidents on campus, the DU community is encouraged to use our existing reporting structure. Outcomes of such reports include collaboration with deans to address issues, individual outreach and training, debriefs with on-campus experts, and, in some cases, escalation.
  • Access to higher education is a primary pillar of current fundraising efforts, as well as the future University campaign, in which recruiting and maintaining a diverse student body will be a focus.
  • As of February, Faculty Senate moved the General Education Review and Inquiry (GERI) into a reconciliation committee to incorporate amendments proposed on the floor of the senate into the original proposal. One of the amendments brought forward from a town hall organized by the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) was to include more formal curricula on cultural sensitivity/diversity/equity in their curriculum proposal.
  • We have increased the prominence of our diversity and inclusion efforts online by connecting the ODEI work on the chancellor’s website. The chancellor’s site also now articulates five strategic imperatives, one of which is “cultivating an exceptionally diverse, inclusive, equitable and welcoming community.” This will soon link to the DU IMPACT 2025 website and include progress updates.
  • In addition, IRISE—the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality—recently launched a new, robust website with detailed information about their scholarship, research and a schedule of on-campus programs focused on issues of inequality, social justice, and inclusivity.

Hiring and retention

  • The provost’s office is in the final stages of setting up a robust reporting process that will include diverse hiring policies, procedures, and recommendations based on comprehensive benchmarking.
  • The provost’s office, in collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, is also working with the deans to develop specific diversity hiring incentives at the unit level. The latest highlights include: 
    • The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) is calling for increased endowed chairs held by historically underrepresented populations. In addition, while only 13 percent of physics faculty are women nationwide, at NSM, women represent one-third of the faculty body in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
    • In University Libraries, all candidates for faculty positions must include a diversity statement.
    • The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) doubled the percent of tenure series assistant professors who are faculty of color. Also, CAHSS increased the number of on-campus interviews by 50 percent to facilitate greater diversity in the applicant pool.
    • The Morgridge College of Education’s strategic plan includes goals to increase faculty diversity through bias training, diversity policies for applicant pools, and increased outreach when hiring such as mentorship programs, Inclusive Excellence committees, etc.
    • More unit-level plans will be shared later in the next update.
  • The chancellor has asked the academic units, with the leadership of the provost, to identify aspirational goals for diversifying the faculty and staff. More about this initiative will be shared in the next update.
  • In March the University received a full briefing from the working group and external consultant in charge of exploring pay equity and DU. We will be sharing those results with the campus community later this term.

Additional Updates

In addition to the initiatives outlined above, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is involved in a number of initiatives that have direct relevance to the issues that students have continued to raise. These include:

  • Consultations with deans and faculty members when incidents arise concerning students’ experiences of microaggressions and other incidents of bias in classroom situations; and
  • Training of faculty search committees on implicit bias and on a series of actions that each committee needs to take at various stages in the search process to maximize the creation of diverse pools of candidates to fill open faculty positions.