College of Colorado, Denver: Fairness Activity Power makes suggestions on funding and sustaining DEI efforts at Denver CU
On Thursday, April 15, members of the Equity Task Force shared their forward-looking and solid recommendations for empowering Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (DEI) at the CU Denver to the campus community. Her elaborate roadmap, which includes funding commitments to invest in and sustain DEI’s work at the university, was fully endorsed by Chancellor Michelle Marks.
“You have mapped out a solid, clear path to becoming an exemplary equity institution in our future, and I am so grateful for your guidance in this monumental effort,” said Marks to Task Force Co-Chair, Antwan Jefferson, PhD. Associate Clinical Professor in the School of Education and Human Development; and John Ronquillo, PhD, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs.
CU Denver’s new Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Justice and Inclusion Antonio Farias opened the virtual discussion with candid remarks on current events as the nation watches the murder trial of Derek Chauvin and mourns another tragic murder of a black man, Daunte Wright, shot dead by police in the Minneapolis area. “It is fitting that we come together today to listen with open hearts to the various voices that have worked tirelessly to present the Equity Task Force’s report, a roadmap for transforming and creating a fairer CU Denver,” said Farias.
Marks reiterated the sentiment, reflecting on the difficulties of the past year, and recognizing the hard work the Equity Task Force completed in just over six months. “The events of last year reaffirm the fact that social change does not happen overnight, but is the product of generations of struggle and continued commitment,” said Marks, adding, “This is a starting point – a great starting point – and I am so optimistic that we are on the right and productive path. “
When Marks took up her role as Chancellor in July 2020, she learned of the frustration at CU Denver over the lack of action on issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion. So she spent her first 10 days listening and hearing from students, faculty, and staff about issues of equality and racial justice.
Based on the feedback, Marks committed to a number of short- and long-term actions, including appointing the Chancellor’s first faculty member, establishing the Auraria Campus Police Dept.’s ward council. Community Advisory Board and the search for CU Denvers The next Vice Chancellor for DEI.
Last October, Marks announced CU Denver’s first Equity Task Force, which would be tasked for the next six months to address key CU Denver challenges, including structural barriers to hiring and promoting underrepresented faculty and staff.
The task force, made up of a core group of 17 students, faculty, and staff, quickly sent a call to the campus community for volunteers to join six action teams – three focusing on guidelines, data, and best practices related to DEI and the other three focus on people, curriculum and the environment. More than 100 students, faculty and staff from all schools, colleges and units responded and set off.
Commenting on the task force’s mission, Jefferson said, “The Equity Task Force was asked to make recommendations to the university that would help us achieve justice, that would help us be inclusive, that would help us be inclusive of the brilliant and broad diversity of the university would represent, and that would give priority to justice. “
A central question from one of the participants formed the starting point for the virtual discussion of the Equity Task Force: How do we define justice exactly? “Justice is both a mindset and a purpose – without the former we cannot achieve the latter,” said Farias, before introducing the panelists and task force co-chairs. “Justice is a data-driven consideration of differences in individual and group attributes and experiences in the educational and work environment in order to achieve the same results.”
To support and maintain equity at CU Denver, the task force has formulated three overarching goals:
To achieve these goals, the task force proposed allocating $ 4 million in new resources over the next three years. Of these funds, $ 1 million will come from a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Innovation Fund run by the CU Foundation, $ 1 million from CU Denver, and $ 2 million from President Mark Kennedy from the CU System Fund Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and AANAPISI (Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution) designations provided by CU Denver. Investing in these designations will enable CU Denver to receive even more grants and additional funding in the years to come. And to ensure that DEI work continues, CU Denver will set up an Institutional Equity Advocacy Council of students, faculty, and staff this fall. $ 300,000 of the funding will support these efforts over the next three years.
Below is a detailed roadmap presented at the virtual discussion that outlines a timeline for DEI-focused initiatives at CU Denver.
The April 15th virtual discussion is just a starting point for important DEI-related work, but a strong and forward-looking starting point that shows a deep commitment to actionable change at CU Denver in the months and years to come.
“Denver University has an opportunity not only to help our students (and therefore their families), faculty and staff, but also to be a role model for what this country needs to do,” said Marks in her concluding remarks. “We are uniquely positioned to be that model to deliver on our promise to create social mobility for diverse populations through access to excellent education in a just culture of belonging.”
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