Denver universities unite to address diversity, free speech issues

June 22, 2017

DENVER – Five Denver universities and colleges are uniting to address contentious issues on their campuses related to diversity, students from historically marginalized groups, and freedom of expression. 

Regis University was host to an inaugural summit last month with the University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University and Community College of Denver. The event, “Finding Common Ground: A Conversation about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Difficult Times,” brought together presidents, chancellors, chief academic officers and diversity leaders to share challenges and ideas and discuss how to work together to address these issues. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, also addressed the group.

The attendees agreed to create a consortium to help all institutions continue to work together and share information.  A second gathering is planned this fall at CCD.

The first meeting resulted in commitments from all participants to:

  • Share information and best practices on efforts to close the achievement gap for marginalized students;
  • Share faculty and staff development efforts, including efforts to retain and support our diverse faculty and administrators;
  • Jointly discuss issues of academic freedom and freedom of speech on campuses;
  • Share the various ways students are engaging with administration and how administrators can and should respond;
  • Discuss how the institutions can engage their respective missions in equity and inclusion work;
  • Discuss how the Denver area universities and colleges be more visible in the overall Denver community and position themselves in the national debate around issues of inclusion and equity;
  • Conduct an annual intercollegiate summit, which will include top administrators, diversity officers, students, staff, and trustees. 

“The spirit of the group was one of solidarity and respect for the work we are all doing on our respective campuses,” said Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J, president of Regis. “It is our goal that we work together, for the benefit of all our students and our community, to make Denver more inclusive and hospitable, and to help diverse or disadvantaged students find success at all our institutions.”

At the summit, attendees heard from the Rev. James Martin, S.J., who discussed the Catholic Jesuit approach to confronting the challenging issues we all face. Regis is a Jesuit, Catholic university.

Dr. Alphonse Keasley, associate vice chancellor of diversity, equity, and community engagement at CU-Denver, and Dr. Tom Romero, assistant provost of IE research and curriculum initiatives at DU, introduced projects their campuses have undertaken to empower their students, faculty, and staff to take on the contentious issues they face, as well as to address the deep-seated inequities inherent in university systems.  Keasley shared his work with CU’s Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Diversity (LEAD) Alliance, and Romero shared DU’s Teaching Equity in an Inequitable Age program.

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Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. Regis University has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs. For more information, visit www.regis.edu.