Strategic Planning

  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access is one of the strategic plan’s four pillars.
  • Nearly one quarter of the strategic plan metrics relate to DEIA, including:
    • conducting an annual survey to assess the extent to which all feel included at CU.
    • closing the equity gap in graduation and retention rates.
    • enhancing the diversity of CU’s students, faculty and staff.
  • Distribution of the annual DEI Survey in fall 2019 revealed ways to improve its execution moving forward. The fall 2020 DEI Survey was delayed until fall 2021 given remote conditions caused by the pandemic.
  • Campus working groups researched effective practices and outlined steps to advance DEIA goals. The campuses continue to build upon this work.
  • The strategic planning team developed an analysis of the metrics related to each DEIA goal to assess progress and help guide the formulation of goals. Of particular note is the finding that all CU’s enrollment growth since 2010 has been among students of color.
  • As we move to finalize the strategic plan, the president and system CDO will meet with the chancellors and campus DEI leaders to review the campuses’ progress on defining action steps to support progress on DEIA metrics.
  • Inclusion of DEIA metrics in the president’s and chancellors’ annual goals and continued reporting of progress against the system strategic plan goals to the Regents will contribute to driving progress on improving DEIA outcomes.

Direct Investments

  • The President’s Initiative Fund supplements campus funds to support a pre-collegiate development program for first generation and low socioeconomic status high school students and their families to encourage students to consider post-secondary education and help prepare them for success.
  • At the request of President Kennedy, the CU Foundation provided $5 million to establish the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Innovation Fund in fall 2020 to be distributed among campuses and system. Campus teams of faculty and staff, including those implementing CU Boulder’s IDEA Plan, CU Denver’s Equity Task Force and UCCS’ Equity Task Force, are developing recommendations on how best to deploy this investment. Actions funded to date include:
    • At the system level, the implementation of:
      • Oregon Search Advocate Training (see below).
      • CIMER – Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, a program to support underrepresented faculty by training faculty and staff across the campuses to become facilitators who can then train faculty, staff and students on being mentors and mentees.
    • At UCCS, the expansion of the MOSAIC center, which provides advocacy, support and community for students underserved in higher education, particularly people of color, the LGBT+ community and DACA students.
    • At CU Anschutz, the hiring of a Director, Equity Curriculum and Training and a Director, Disability Access and Inclusion Training in addition to implementing the John Lewis Good Trouble Award and the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) program.
  • President Kennedy provided a $1 million match – in addition to a $1 million match from the dean of the CU School of Medicine – to help create the school’s Charles J. Blackwood, MD, Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund in February 2021 to support underrepresented medical students who are committed to working in the African American community.
  • President Kennedy provided initiative funds to support a Diverse Doctorates in Business program collaboration between the business school deans at CU Boulder, CU Denver and UCCS to increase the diversity of business academics by encouraging more underrepresented undergraduate students at CU to consider pursuing a Ph.D. in a business discipline.
  • CU contracted with DiversityEDU to upgrade DEI-related online training for employees; CU joined Stanford’s VMware Leadership Innovation Lab that provides research-grounded workshops to advance women’s leadership. DEI- related courses are also available to all CU constituents via Coursera.
  • The President’s Diversity & Inclusive Excellence Grant funds innovative projects that promote diversity and inclusive excellence throughout CU.


  • The CU system’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Theodosia Cook, was hired in May 2020.
  • By late 2020, searches were underway for Chief Diversity Officers on three campuses. CU Denver’s new CDO Antonio Farias joined CU in March 2021. Each CDO will have direct access to their chancellor.
  • The President formed a Cabinet that included the VPs and 25 additional leaders –14 women and 11 men, five of whom are people of color.
  • Of the eight individuals President Kennedy has been involved in hiring, five are women, five are people of color and all were the most qualified candidates for their positions.
  • A focus on diversity has been incorporated in all system search committees, all of which also receive bias-awareness training.
  • CU has incorporated the Oregon Search Advocate Training. The program has a proven track record of leading to increased diversity among future hires.


  • DEI remains a key theme in the president’s communications, including commencement addresses, monthly newsletter and various statements.
  • The president and chancellors coordinated their responses following the deaths of George Floyd and others. Statements were issued to affirm support and identify resources available to student, faculty, staff, parent, alumni and donors.
  • The president issued statements affirming LGBTQ+ rights and DACA students, and opposing restrictions on international students. He denounced anti-Asian violence and offered support for the AAPI community on Twitter.
  • President Kennedy promotes CDO Cook’s communications via social media, including her essay on race (June 2020), her letter to Dr. Martin Luther King (January 2021) and her piece, “The Role of a Chief Diversity Officer.”
  • Through a collaborative process involving key groups and leaders across CU, the system’s first Indigenous lands recognition statement was developed and implemented with approval from the Board of Regents (October 2020).
  • Incoming first-year students receive an email from the Board of Regents about the importance of free speech at CU.


  • In collaboration with other universities, CU’s Government Relations team is leading efforts to advance legislation that provides in-state tuition for members of Indigenous tribes who called Colorado home.
  • CU is also leading the effort to gain legislative approval to permit test-optional admissions.
  • CU is advocating for federal funding for CU Anschutz to grow its pre-collegiate and undergraduate pipeline programs to bring more students from underrepresented backgrounds into the health professions.

Other Campus Actions

  • All campuses implemented DEI advisory boards for their security departments.
  • All CU “use of force” policies align with Colorado’s stringent 2020 law.
  • The CU Anschutz Medical Campus has designated funding for the development of a Center for Health Equity to help eliminate disparities in health and health care because of race, gender, age, socioeconomic status or geography. While details are still being finalized, the center will work to achieve health equity through leadership, research, community engagement and education.
  • CU Boulder renamed Temporary Building 1 the Al & Vera Ramirez Building in honor of Professor Emeritus Al Ramirez and his late wife, Vera, who advocated for campus programs and initiatives to support underrepresented students, faculty and staff. Additionally, the campus renamed its Education Building the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones Building in tribute to the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder. Jones was barred from taking part in the commencement ceremony in 1918.
  • CU Boulder achieved a Green rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (August 2020), one of only 55 universities nationwide to attain this designation.
  • CU Denver is slated to receive Hispanic Serving Institution federal status soon.
  • CU Denver joined the National Equity Transfer Initiative and will work in partnership with Arapahoe Community College to increase transfer and graduation rates for underrepresented students.

Pay Equity

  • Pay equity implementation remains a key focus among leadership systemwide.
  • CU recently completed a study to help guide implementation of the new Colorado law on pay equity.
  • Each campus is prepared to conduct analysis and make necessary adjustments to implement the new law, as well as aligning processes with the law’s requirements.


  • Conversations continue with roughly 30 individual and foundation prospects identified as potential donors for DEI scholarships and programs.
  • Fundraising staff systemwide identified more than 100 DEI-related allocations that provide giving opportunities – 662 gifts from 410 unique donors have been made to these allocations totaling $759,756.

Outreach and Engagement

  • System CDO Cook and AVP for Engagement Tony Salazar have increased outreach to diverse communities. CU is exploring paths to assemble contacts and engagements into a CRM to facilitate more effective engagement and response.
  • President’s Diversity Awards recognize significant achievements of faculty, staff, students, and academic or administrative units in developing a culturally and intellectually diverse university community reflective of inclusive excellence.
  • President Kennedy organized and hosted a Constitution Day video in September 2020 – with three other major university presidents that comprised a diverse panel based on gender, race and political background – on the importance of the Constitution to our universities and nation.
  • President Kennedy represented CU as an invited speaker for Salesforce’s Leading Through Change webinar (March 2021), “Driving Equity & Access Through Higher Education Admissions.”
  • CU is a sponsor of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in American Higher Education. NCORE is the leading national forum of its kind and attracts national and international attendees representing more than 1,200 institutions of higher education, non-profits and other educational organizations.


  • All accusations of discrimination are taken seriously and referred to outside, independent investigators when appropriate.


  • A diverse committee was appointed to examine CU’s relationship with Colorado Correctional Industries; its recommendations for the future of this business relationship were implemented. A regent-supported, faculty-led effort to extend educational opportunities to Colorado prisons is moving forward.
  • In collaboration with Senior VP and CFO Todd Saliman and the campuses, System CDO Cook is cataloging a select number of DEIA programs, including their objectives and how progress is measured. Such information will help enhance our annual system DEI report.
  • A university-wide group will be assembled to address the many questions about data management.