University of Colorado at Boulder Campus Diversity Plan

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Type: Policy

Status: Initiated in July 1999

Source File:


by Chancellor Richard L. Byyny

The University of Colorado at Boulder is engaged in an important diversity endeavor that reaches to the core of our educational mission and touches every corner of the University community. In 1998-99, CU-Boulder’s faculty, staff and students joined in an extensive planning process, which has resulted in this "Blueprint for Action" to enhance the diversity of the Boulder campus.

In December 1998, the CU Board of Regents approved diversity plans from each of CU’s four campuses, including the CU-Boulder Diversity and Equity Plan. The Boulder campus plan introduced a vision for diversity that articulated a number of broad goals and potential action items. Following Regental approval, the campus community joined in an effort to refine the goals and strategies of the Diversity and Equity Plan.

In the 1999 spring semester, broad-based input was sought and received from across the campus — from governance groups, students, faculty, staff, administrators and others — to help implement our diversity effort. This "Blueprint for Action" is the product of intense dialogue, enthusiastic brainstorming, and constant searching for consensus. Here is what we have learned from the process.

The Boulder campus is committed to achieving diversity and equity -- not just because it’s the right thing to do for underrepresented populations, but because it is fundamental to our central educational mission. We strongly believe that all students — minority and majority — benefit from an education enriched by a diversity of ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Clearly, the quality of learning is enhanced by a campus climate of inclusion, understanding, and appreciation of the full range of human experience.

Universities like CU-Boulder must prepare students to function successfully in the global society of the 21st century. The workplace of tomorrow will reflect a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, introducing new challenges in thinking, communication and team-building. Citizens of tomorrow will require multicultural competence beyond our current imagination.

We in academia have a responsibility to prepare our students for assuming leadership roles in the 21st century. They will need specific tools and knowledge for leading a society of rapid change and multicultural growth. Multicultural competence serves these future leaders through broadened critical thinking skills, expanded opportunities for intellectual inquiry, and preparation for social and civic responsibilities.

Furthermore, college campuses are viewed as a microcosm of society, and Americans often look to higher education for guidance and leadership on social issues. On our campus, for example, diversity is one of four major goals of the Total Learning Environment initiative — reaffirming its place among the campus’ core values.

Americans recognize the benefits of a diverse campus and classroom, according to a 1998 survey by the Ford Foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative. Two in three citizens say it is very important that colleges and universities prepare people to function in a diverse society. Two-thirds (66 percent) say that colleges and universities should take explicit steps to ensure diversity in the student body, and 75 percent say they should do so to ensure diversity among the faculty.

Planning for diversity is at least as complex as it is important. In their book, "The Shape of the River" (1998), Derek Bok and William Bowen refer to the "long and complicated process — more akin to movement along a river than to a smooth passage through a pipeline — by which young people are educated, and then pursue careers and assume responsibilities in their communities."

Bok and Bowen provide a compelling case for focused attention to diversity in higher education, noting that "our society, with its ever more diverse population, cannot ultimately succeed as a democracy if we fail to close the gaps in opportunity…" In their study of a group of selective universities, the authors found that a diverse campus environment can lead to very positive outcomes for their students in terms of academic performance, racial interaction on campus, and the subsequent careers of minority students from these campuses.

Based on empirical data, Bok and Bowen conclude that all students — minority and majority — benefit from a diverse educational experience and that society reaps important benefits from their enhanced civic participation following graduation.

The educational benefits of diversity also were acknowledged in the Supreme Court opinion in the 1978 case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The Bakke case, which allows consideration of race as one factor among others to achieve compelling educational interests, remains the standard followed by the University of Colorado at Boulder and most public universities.

The future begins today -- with a common understanding and shared vision of diversity. On May 13, 1999, the CU Board of Regents endorsed the following "description of diversity" and "statement of principles" regarding diversity planning:

Description of Diversity
The University of Colorado is committed to building a community of students, faculty and staff in which diversity is a fundamental value. People are different, and the differences among them are what we call diversity — a natural and enriching hallmark of life. A climate of healthy diversity is one in which people value a rich panoply of diverse ideas, perspectives and backgrounds, individual and group differences, and communicate openly.

Statement of Principles for Developing Campus Diversity Plans

1. Campus plans will be consistent with the University of Colorado’s aspiration to be a place where the quality of education is enhanced and enriched by a diverse campus community and from which all students benefit within a Total Learning Environment.

2. Campus plans must adhere to state and federal law and the Laws of the Regents.

3. Quotas, "set asides" and/or discriminatory practices must not be included in or inferred from campus diversity plans.

4. Campus plans shall establish aspirations that are ambitious, provided they are realistic and attainable — challenging CU to stretch its creativity and resources in achieving success.

5. Campus plans shall consider extensive input from the campus community, and require approval by the Board of Regents.

6. Campus plans should consider the availability of existing and reallocated resources to achieve objectives consistent with the Integrated Resources Management Strategy (IRMS) process.

7. Campus plans should build on successful programs existing on our campuses, as well as seek innovative new approaches.

8. Campus plans shall institute internal evaluations of success in meeting aspirations, utilizing appropriate monitoring systems.

9. Accountability rests at all levels of the University, including administrative units and academic departments, as well as individual faculty, staff and students.

10. Campus plans shall be subject to periodic review and updates when the needs of the University so require.

11. In the design of campus diversity plans, race- and ethnicity-neutral approaches shall, where promising, be considered among other strategies.

Higher education exists in a "real world" of limitations not so different from that of individuals. Just like citizens, colleges and universities feel external social pressures, wrestle with finite budgets, operate under a system of laws and statutes, and often encounter resistance to change. This campus has felt all those pressures.

But CU-Boulder envisions a long-term future that rises above these real constraints to recognize, respect and ensure diversity — from the ethnic makeup of the freshman class to the gender balance of tenured faculty, from accessibility for the disabled to the range of perspectives shared in campus classrooms. This vision recognizes the importance of achieving a critical mass of underrepresented students, faculty and staff in order to build a truly diverse campus community.

CU-Boulder’s long-term vision for diversity tells us what our campus could be like — with the necessary levels of commitment, leadership, resources, teamwork and persistence. This vision evolves from feedback provided from all areas of the campus. It builds upon the foundation laid by students, staff and faculty, such as those who participated energetically in input meetings and the campus and system diversity summits. Broad-based input played a major role in the development of the campus diversity plan.

Here, then, is our campus’ vision of the future — a statement of long-term aspirations for a diverse campus community.

Vision Statement
At the University of Colorado at Boulder, we aspire to be a place where the quality of education is enhanced and enriched by a diverse campus community -- where all students benefit from multicultural experiences within the Total Learning Environment. In this place, we envision a campus environment that welcomes and respects ALL people. We envision a campus that acknowledges and addresses the special needs of groups and individuals who historically have faced institutional barriers.

On this campus, we envision a student body that reflects (at a minimum) our state’s ethnic diversity -- from enrollment to retention to degrees awarded. Enrollment, retention and graduation rates are consistently high among the various groups represented in the campus enrollment. In this place, any gaps in educational achievement have been closed, with retention and graduation rates for students of color consistent with those of the entire student body.

We envision university partnerships and support programs with K-12 schools that have contributed to a substantial rise in college readiness by prospective students, including students of color. Gaps in test scores, high school grades and graduation rates between minority and majority populations have been reduced, if not eliminated, leading to greater success rates during the college experience.

We envision a campus where faculty of color and women faculty are recruited, hired and tenured at increasingly higher rates, reflecting national trends among our university peers. Throughout American higher education, enrollment and graduation rates for undergraduate and graduate students of color have been strengthened, thereby increasing the applicant pool from which CU-Boulder draws its faculty.

We envision a place where the pervasive respect for diversity has created a supportive climate in which students are able to reach their academic potential and the entire campus benefits from participation in a multicultural community. All members of the community, including underrepresented groups, enjoy a campus climate that is professionally and academically supportive, respectful, safe and welcoming. This campus is a place where bias-related behaviors and violence do not occur. Recognizing that valuing diversity is an ongoing process, academic departments continually pursue ways of increasing knowledge and understanding of diversity issues.

On this campus, all staff members are valued for their contributions to the university’s success, including campus aspirations for diversity. We envision a campus in which people of color and women are well represented across all levels of employment. We are committed to providing consistent professional development among all staff, including members of underrepresented groups.

Every unit of the Boulder campus demonstrates its commitment to diversity by implementing ambitious departmental diversity plans in support of the campuswide plan. Progress is recognized and celebrated as individual goals are met, contributing to the long-term vision of a place where diversity is part and parcel of the campus culture.

In essence, our aspiration is to provide an outstanding educational experience, intellectual environment and supportive climate for our campus community, enhanced by a full array of diverse ideas, perspectives and backgrounds.

To move from vision to reality will require hard work, commitment and resources from throughout the University of Colorado at Boulder. The campus community must join in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, based on a shared vision for diversity.

The basic strength of the Boulder campus diversity plan lies in the fact that it is not the "Chancellor’s plan" or the "faculty’s plan" or the "students’ plan" — but it is the campus’s plan. Success will depend in large measure on day-to-day diversity efforts by schools, colleges, departments, governance groups and other units of the campus — as well as individual faculty, staff, administrators and students.

Each department and organizational unit will be asked to review its own diversity plan and make changes as needed, to ensure consistency with the overall campus plan. These more specific plans will serve to support and help implement the broader campuswide goals. Assistance will be provided by the Office of Diversity and Equity to any departments that need help in updating their individual plans.

CU-Boulder’s "Diversity and Equity: Blueprint for Action" does not attempt to list all the important diversity initiatives at every level of the campus community. Instead, it charts a course for educational excellence through diversity, recognizing the University’s central mission in preparing students for the global society of the 21st century. It sets a tone of inclusion and opportunity, along with a commitment to action. It offers a basic framework for innovative thinking and provocative dialogue about issues of diversity in the Total Learning Environment.

This "Blueprint" represents a call to action by every member of the University community, joined in a concerted effort to enhance the quality of education for all at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The "Blueprint for Action" was developed in large part through the leadership of the Boulder Campus Diversity Planning Committee (BCDPC). The committee was organized by Chancellor Richard L. Byyny in September 1998 to help provide a response to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education's mandate for all public universities in the state to create campus diversity plans. The committee was formed by asking the Vice Chancellors, Deans and the UCSU Legislative Council to nominate members.

In addition, students nominated six additional individuals they felt would be important to the process. Each of these individuals was invited to join the committee. The committee was asked to develop a plan that would be reviewed by the Chancellor and the Chancellor's Executive Committee (CEC), and ultimately be presented to the Board of Regents.

During its deliberations in fall 1998, the BCDPC created and recommended a campus diversity plan. As CEC reviewed the plan, questions arose about the specific goals, the use of numerical goals, and the actions needed to implement a campus-wide diversity plan. The need for additional discussion was evident. It seemed particularly important to include the broader campus in these discussions because success of the plan depends on widespread participation.

The Boulder Campus Diversity and Equity Plan was presented and approved by the Board of Regents in December 1998, with the understanding that a more detailed plan would be developed that would reflect campuswide input and discussion. At the December meeting of the Board, a group of CU-Boulder students presented an alternative plan, called "Bolder Boulder," which was discussed at length. The Board voted to approve the plan presented by Chancellor Byyny.

In January 1999, Chancellor Byyny asked the BCDPC to gather broad-based input from across the campus and to synthesize the information gathered into a set of recommendations for the writing of the implementation plan. During January and February, members of the committee attended 40 meetings with governance, student, faculty and staff groups to gather input. Attendees at these input sessions received a copy of the Boulder campus plan as well as the student plan.

Feedback from the sessions was placed on the website of the Office of Diversity and Equity to be reviewed by the campus at large. The committee created a set of recommendations, for the Boulder Diversity and Equity Plan, which was submitted in March 1999.

A writing team from the Chancellor's Office helped incorporate campus input, including many of the committee's recommendations, into a draft implementation plan for review.

On May 13, 1999, the CU Board of Regents held a Special Meeting on diversity, at which the Board endorsed a "Description of Diversity," as well as a "Statement of Principles for Developing Campus Diversity Plans." (See Appendix D for the entire resolution.) The Regents also requested that campus diversity plans focus on continuous improvement, rather than specific numerical goals discussed at earlier stages of planning.

Following the Special Meeting, the Boulder campus writing team finalized the draft plan in preparation for campus-wide distribution and review. In particular, members of the Campus Diversity Planning Committee were invited to provide feedback. The draft plan was placed on the campus web site of the Office of Diversity and Equity to encourage general feedback in advance of its presentation for approval by the Board of Regents.

The "Blueprint for Action" contains timelines at various levels of the plan -- from broad reporting schedules to target dates for reporting progress on achieving specific strategies. Timelines are needed both to help maintain momentum toward goals and to respond to external and internal reporting schedules. In this document, target deadlines are provided with each "Key Strategy." These target dates will be reevaluated as part of annual reviews of the plan.

The initial campuswide report target date is December 1999, when reports on all campus diversity plans are requested by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Also, in June 2000, CU-Boulder will provide its first campus report for presentation to the CU President, Board of Regents, the campus community and the general public. A modified five-year Program Review Panel (PRP) process will be conducted in 2004.

The following section presents diversity goals grouped under three broad areas: Climate for Living, Learning and Working; Student Access and Opportunity; and Diverse Faculty and Staff. Each goal is followed by a set of "key strategies" — those strategies believed to have the highest potential for success in reaching the goal. Specific timelines are provided with each key strategy, setting a target date for completing or reporting progress on specific actions.

This diversity plan recognizes the importance of specific diversity actions at the departmental and unit level, which may not be listed here. Diversity plans for individual units will include strategies for addressing specific areas of underrepresentation and other diversity issues within the units, consistent with the overall aims of the campus diversity plan. For example, strategies should be implemented to address underrepresentation of women in such areas as engineering and sciences. Although the campuswide diversity document does not provide a complete list of these unit-level strategies, their implementation is critical to the success of the campus "Blueprint."

In the area of student access and opportunity, particular emphasis is placed on the successful graduation of students of color, in recognition of the campus’ most basic educational mission. The plan also includes important enrollment, graduation rate and retention goals that contribute to the over-arching aim of increasing the number of degrees earned by students of color.

The goals for undergraduate students of color focus on Colorado residents in acknowledgement of the University's special obligation to Coloradans. However, non-resident undergraduates of color also enrich the diversity of the campus, and their numerical trends will be monitored as well. For graduate-level students, the goals are not confined to Colorado residents because these students come from a national pool and non-residents tend to establish state residency before graduation.

Appendix A includes definitions of quantitative measures as well as background data to help track, monitor and evaluate progress in meeting the campus's diversity goals.

(See the source file for a long list of goals and objectives)

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