Building CU’s Strength through Diversity

from left: Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook, CU President Mark Kennedy, Host Emily Davies
from left: Theodosia Cook, Chief Diversity Officer; Mark Kennedy, CU President; Emily Davies, Host and Senior Writer

Although perhaps well meaning, many diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives have fallen short or have even done more harm than good. DEI is a top priority at University of Colorado, and CU is prioritizing what system shifts are needed to enact and sustain success. How do we attract, retain and graduate diverse students? How do we ensure that is reflected among our faculty and staff? And, importantly, how do we repair generations of racism and inequity?

CU President Mark Kennedy and Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook join host Emily Davies on the President’s Innovation Podcast to discuss what it will take for a systemic shift at CU and in the larger communities to create sustainable progress for cultural change.

  • The importance of DEI leaders being at the forefront of change.
  • Individuals who have dedicated their lives to DEI research and change are the most qualified to come up with innovations and solutions.
  • DEI success at CU is represented in the students, faculty and staff and the welcoming environment on the campuses and beyond.
  • Why many, if not most, DEI initiatives fail.
  • DEI is not a situation where ‘everyone has a voice.’ Leaders need to implement DEI innovations, and allies need to offer support.
  • How a failed DEI initiative loses the trust of constituents and hurts the organization’s brand.
  • President Kennedy, in October 2020, worked with the CU Foundation to create a $5 million diversity equity and inclusion innovation fund.
  • CU Anschutz Medical Campus has initiatives underway that are moving the institution toward greater health equity.
  • Representatives in the state government are working alongside CU to gain funding for these evolutionary DEI initiatives.
  • There is great frustration around the lack of progress in advancing DEI, but across the country, many institutions have outstanding programs underway that are laying the groundwork for the future.
  • How CU is embracing these programs, replicating the best and coming up with its own initiatives to benefit the campuses and community.
  • Students, faculty, staff and alumni can support these DEI efforts by supporting the DEI leaders and looking to those who have extensive experience and research in the area for solutions.
  • Each person is asked to ensure that each person on our campuses feels welcome and valued. Each is asked to listen and ask questions of individuals from different backgrounds and cultures.