Dear Alumni and Friends,
I have long believed that life is a game of addition, not subtraction. And when that addition involves interacting with or surrounding yourself with people with different views, different backgrounds, different experiences, all the better.
Diversity is often viewed narrowly through a lens of race and ethnicity. While those are part of it, they are by no means all of it. Diversity to me is the sum of a variety of things – a person’s demographic characteristics, life and work experiences, viewpoints and interactions, among others. And what I have seen over and over – in my own upbringing, my educational experiences and my careers in business, government and academia – is that it is not only imperative to respect the dignity of each individual, but to recognize that diversity is a powerful asset, both personally and professionally.
The Wall Street Journal, in its article “The business case for more diversity,” noted that a diverse and inclusive culture in business provides a competitive edge. It leads to better products, more innovation, fresh ideas and a stronger bottom line.
My own experiences echo that. Homogeneous groups tend toward homogeneous ideas and strategies. Diverse groups challenge, question and view problems from different angles. They arrive at better outcomes.
Embracing diversity is the right thing. It’s an important aspect of everything we do at the University of Colorado. We strive to foster a learning, living and work environment that mirrors the society we serve and makes all feel safe and included. We also know that infusing diversity throughout our activities enriches the learning experience and makes our graduates better prepared to succeed in life.
That’s one of the reasons we recently elevated our strategic plan’s diversity working group to be the plan’s fourth pillar. Our original thinking was that diversity must be part and parcel of each of the areas we identified as focuses of planning. It needs to be. But after broad input from the university community, we agreed that it also is appropriately recognized as a pillar.
Anything judged important should be measured. Our diversity engagement survey in the field now with students, faculty and staff across our four campuses will guide our action. It will give us insight into the climate and culture on our campuses, and identify areas where we can improve.
Incidents, such as the recent racist incident on our Boulder campus, remind us that there is always work to be done in this area, and that diversity must be a constant focus. It is important for all of us to build on the work of generations before us to embrace diversity and to achieve a more inclusive environment.
Mark Kennedy President
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