Daily Camera (Boulder)
CU Boulder to hire chief diversity officer
Chancellor: Campus leaders to conduct national search
The University of Colorado Boulder will hire a chief diversity officer to support underrepresented groups on campus, Chancellor Phil Distefano wrote in a letter to campus this week.
Campus leaders will conduct a national search for the new administrative position, which will report directly to Distefano.
CU Boulder students, faculty and staff have called on the university to address institutional racism, and Distefano in June pledged to do so by listening to the campus community, implementing a diversity and inclusion plan and requiring mandatory bystander training.
He echoed that commitment Wednesday.
“We will not ignore your calls for diversity, equity and inclusion,” Distefano wrote. “This commitment to new leadership and our increased financial investments are part of a holistic change. We will take decisive, immediate, long-overdue action, and we will do it together.”
The chief diversity officer will take into consideration input from underrepresented campus groups to advise Distefano and other campus leaders on how to make CU Boulder more diverse, equitable and inclusive, according to Distefano’s letter.
But hiring an administrator was not among the calls for change from students, faculty and staff in recent months.
Graduate student Juan Pablo Ramirez pointed to the demands made by the Divest 2 Invest collective, which is calling on university leaders to divest from campus and Boulder police and invest in programs that support Black, Indigenous and people of color on campus.
Specific demands include increasing funding for mental health services, implementing antiracism training and education, and creating a police hiring accountability board.
“The hiring of this diversity officer is very tone deaf,” Ramirez wrote in a message to the Camera. “Many CU community
groups have been doing a lot of work to address issues of racism on campus, and none of them have proposed creating another administration position to address this. If CU admin want to be serious about addressing issues of racism on campus they would use the Divest2invest Collective’s demands as a course of action.”
Distefano’s letter did note that he is “exploring additional financial investments to support this critical work within our community,” which he would provide updates on in the future.
CU Boulder leaders will ask the campus community how they want to interact with the chief diversity officer and what responsibilities the position should include
“We need to use the opportunity to hire a campus-level leader as a means of strengthening the campus and making it more inclusive,” Distefano wrote.
Spokesperson Deborah Mendez Wilson did not provide a timeline for the hiring process, but said that information would be provided in the coming weeks.
The CU system has an existing Chief Diversity Officer, Theodosia Cook, who was hired in May to oversee all four campuses. The Colorado Springs and Anschutz campuses also have chief diversity officers, and the Denver campus is starting the search for a chief diversity officer, said system spokesperson Ken Mcconnellogue.