Recipients of President’s DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

Individuals, units, projects recognized for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion
By Staff

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

Recipients of the 2022-23 President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards last week were celebrated at a reception at 1800 Grant St.

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

The annual awards recognize individuals and units demonstrating outstanding commitment and making significant contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the CU system. Awards include $2,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

CU President Todd Saliman and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards committee last month announced this year’s award and honorable mention recipients. Saliman and Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, senior diversity officer for CU system administration, joined honorees and other DEI leaders from across the campuses to share in the celebration.

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

Recipients of the 2023 President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grants also were honored at the April 20 event. Grants are designed to fund innovative, creative projects that promote DEI throughout the CU system. Proposals are submitted by faculty and staff. Each of the eight winning projects – two from each campus – receives up to $8,000.

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

The 2023 President’s DEI Grant awardees are:

Recipients of President's DEI Awards, Grants honored at reception

CU Anschutz

Interpersonal DEI Simulation to Advance Health Equity and Build Trust in Medicine and Health Care

Project Leads: Julie A. Venci, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine; Jackie Ward-Gaines, Department of Emergency Medicine

Is an education-focused proposal intended to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of physicians and interprofessional health care team members needed to build trust within medicine and achieve health equity for all patients. This innovative curriculum will address critical topics rarely covered in residency and graduate school training programs. These topics include the history of racism and medical mistrust and how they impact health and health outcomes. Understanding why mistrust exists within health care and how we must manage it to achieve health equity is essential. In addition, the curriculum will emphasize the work that needs to be done by physicians and other interprofessional team members to build a more equitable health system. We will use an iterative methodology and antiracist pedagogy to develop classroom didactics and cases and high-fidelity simulation cases and workshops at the CAPE to assess predetermined skills and competencies.

During the workshops, interprofessional learners will work together to care for patients who are from historically minoritized and marginalized communities. The standardized patients participating in these cases will all undergo Health Equity training to prepare for the workshops. We will use Kearn’s six-step approach to develop the curriculum throughout the planning process. In addition, we will use several evaluation tools and methods to ensure we achieve predetermined goals and objectives. This work will be collaborative and bring together diverse leaders, students and community members who all aim to improve health and outcomes for marginalized and minoritized patients and communities. Dr. Ward-Gaines, from the Department of Emergency Medicine and Dr. Julie Venci, from the Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatric, will lead this work. They have formed a diverse committee to develop and deliver this innovative curriculum. The long-term goal is to share and disseminate the curriculum locally and nationally.

Improving Patient-Centered ObGyn Care for Black Women: Co-designing Solutions to Mitigate Systemic Racism, Discrimination and Bias

Project Leads: Leslie Appiah, M.D., Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Marsha Guess, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Lauren Harrington, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Karen Hampanda, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Ladean Marshall, WHNP-BC, Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Recognizing the persistent health inequities Black women experience, we propose to co-design reforms to obstetrics and gynecology care through stakeholder engagement, including a cross-sectional survey and series of listening sessions with Black patients/families, community advocacy groups and stakeholders focused on patients’ experiences receiving obstetrics and gynecology care at the University of Colorado. Specifically, we are hoping to understand more about where our patients have encountered racially discriminatory policies, power differentials, intersecting oppressions, and race-fueled microaggressions. We will also ask about whether our patients have experienced worry, fear or shame, if they have had untreated pain, and if they have felt they were not heard or listened to. Lastly, we will solicit patient recommendations to mitigate systemic racism, discrimination and bias in obstetrics and gynecology care.

CU Boulder

We Don’t All Have to be Engineers or Doctors: Career Awareness and Alum Mentoring Towards Retention of First-Generation Students

Project Leads: Angela Buchanan, Teaching Associate Professor, Student Academic Success Center; Mark Valkovci, Instructor of Economics, Student Academic Success Center and the Department of Economics

This proposal is for the anticipated development and formalization of a SASC-alumni mentoring project that is being piloted this academic year in Angela Buchanan’s SASC courses. In its current iteration, SASC graduates from non-STEM fields are volunteering time to do Zoom classes with SASC undergraduates, discussing their educational experiences and their career trajectories. The goal of the pilot project is to help historically excluded students in our cohort to connect with our graduates, both to facilitate direct mentoring and to provide narratives about the wide range of non-STEM career opportunities available after graduation. First generation students are less likely to have cultural knowledge of careers outside of STEM, and often see a STEM major as the only financially viable option for their degree. The extension of this project is meant to create greater opportunities for mentoring, and for a broader audience of our students to be reached regarding both mentoring and exposure to alternative narratives regarding what a successful college major might look like. The goals are better retention, stronger community ties between generations of students and alumni, as well as earlier recognition of possible majors and careers.

Inclusive Design to Enhance DEI in Open Environment Workspaces Across the CU System

Project Lead: Merritt Turetsky, Director, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department

This project will use social science research to take a fresh look at open environment workspaces to manifest a more just working environment for students and staff, with a focus on graduate student professional development. Our project will focus on engaging SEEC community members via participatory scenario development, ethnographic walks, and semi-structured interviews to reflect on inequitable and unwelcoming spaces and to conceptualize just future concepts. The design of open environment spaces on campus is a key issue across staff, faculty and graduate students. As individuals return to work across campus, usage rates of offices (both private and open) are down, and the resulting environments often lack energy. This lack of community negatively impacts the culture of teams and prevents academic units from meeting their mentoring and professional development goals. Most concerning, INSTAAR graduate students from historically underserved communities are most strongly impacted by open workspaces, and report feeling unsafe while working in these environments. Our findings will be relevant to other buildings and units across the CU system through 1) improved understanding of inclusivity, race and space in CU open workspaces, 2) formulation and testing of best practices as well as diversity, equity and inclusion tools that should be used during any inclusive design/redesign of open work environments at CU, and 3) contributing to fundamental understanding of just and antiracist design of workplaces in higher education. This project supports all three goals of the CU Boulder Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academia (IDEA) plan by fostering an inclusive climate, improving infrastructure, and creating new pathways for leadership and inclusive metric space design/redesign projects impacting CU students and staff.

CU Denver

Caring for Caregivers: Resources for Guardians and Families Program

Project Leads: Jill Rubin, Director of the Women and Gender Student Services, Center for Identity and Inclusion; Aisury Vasquez, Director, Latinx Student Services, Center for Identity and Inclusion

Over the past two years, the Center for Identity and Inclusion (CII) at CU Denver has had the opportunity to connect with students who are caregivers or guardians. These students have shared feelings of stress, anxiety and lack of support. Utilizing the Campus Workplace and Climate survey, we know that at CU Denver Black and Latinx students are disproportionally impacted by caregiving duties, with 19% of Latinx students and 17% of Black students identifying that they are responsible for caring for children under the age of 17, and 10% of all students provide care for someone over the age of 17. Furthermore, 70% of all student guardians identify as mothers and 62% of these are single mothers. Many of these students do not feel a sense of belonging on campus or feel supported by their peers; require access to tangible resources offered through the CU Denver food pantry and may not be able to attend classes due to lack of support in areas of care. This data shows that CU Denver has a responsibility to provide support and resources for students who are caregivers. Resources provided through this grant will allow students to create connections with their peers, have access to tangible resources, and provide them with a sense of belonging on campus.

CU Denver Undocumented Student Mentoring Program

Project Leads: Estéfani E. Peña Figueroa, Undocumented Student Resource Coordinator, Center for Identity and Inclusion (CII); Soyon Bueno, Director of Asian American Student Services, CII; Aisury Vasquez, Director of Latinx Student Services, CII

Undocumented students attending CU Denver face a variety of obstacles on their path to graduation, including:

  • Mental health issues, including anxiety for themselves and their families and a general sense of isolation from the larger campus community
  • Financial challenges, in large part because they are ineligible for federal financial aid
  • Less knowledge of available campus resources and when and how to access them, and less familiarity with many of the “hidden rules” of college success
  • A lack of academic preparedness due to insufficient resources in the K-12 system

The purpose of this grant is to create and pilot a yearlong mentoring experience for undocumented undergraduate students to help them neutralize these four challenges. This grant will permit the hiring of two mentors who will support 20 mentees.

Mentees will benefit from:

  • A one-on-one meeting with their mentor
  • Workshops focused on the four challenges listed above
  • Participation in peer support groups
  • Exam preparation sessions before mid-term and final exams

The project will also include Review and Reflection sessions, including completion of mentee evaluations of the program and discussions of ways to improve the program.


Addressing Student Retention through MOSAIC and LGBTQ+ Resource Center Retreats

Project Leads: Whitley Hadley, Director, MOSAIC and LGBTQ+ Resource Center; Rafael Norwood, LGBTQ+ Coordinator, MOSAIC and LGBTQ+ Resource Center

The Multicultural Office for Student Access, Inclusiveness and Community (MOSAIC) and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ+) Resource Center aims to host the “Queer Restoration” and the “Multicultural Matters” retreat for undergraduate and prospective UCCS students. The purpose of these identity-centric retreats is to contribute directly to persistence, retention and completion rates for minoritized groups, such as students of color and LGBTQ+ student populations, at UCCS. These retreats aim to address the navigation gap impacting minoritized students’ persistence by modeling high-impact practices like ones found across scholarship and learning communities. Retreats are high-impact practices due to elements such as being topic intensive, the focus on concluding with tangibles, and prolonged in-person engagement to strengthen collaborations. Through these retreats we will strengthen community, affirm identity and cultivate dynamic leaders.

First2Go Community Startup

Project Leads: Ellen Burkart, Director, UCCS First-Year Experience and Family Connections; Whitley Hadley, Director, UCCS MOSAIC and LGBTQ+ Resource Center

The First2Go Community Startup is intended to continue the momentum of the restructuring of the University’s First2Go program. Specifically, this project will focus on:

  • Developing a First-Generation 101 workshop to build a network of allyship and support for our first-generation students and their families, as well as our first-generation faculty and staff.
  • Strengthening our campus, system, and community partnerships to influence a culture at UCCS that affirms, celebrates and supports our first-generation students, staff and faculty.
  • Developing and implementing programming for National First-Generation College Student Week (Nov. 6-10, 2023).
  • Creating opportunities for First2Go Faculty and Staff Network to engage with one another and influence support for first-generation college students.
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