Diversity numbers highlight successes, challenges

Regents applaud student gains but voice concern over faculty, staff figures

The University of Colorado’s Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses have posted impressive gains the past few years in the number of ethnic minority students both enrolled and awarded degrees, the Board of Regents heard Tuesday.

In the past decade, CU Colorado Springs has more than doubled its minority student population, from 1,143 in 2005 to 2,773 in 2014. CU-Boulder is at 5,595, up from 3,572, and CU Denver enrollment is at 3,954 compared to 2,065 in 2005.

During the annual diversity report presentation at the CU Board of Regent’s June 23 meeting at CU Anschutz, regents applauded the campuses’ efforts and commended the work of the diversity officers. However, they voiced concern over the minority demographic among faculty and staff. Across its campuses, CU averages less than 20 percent of its faculty and fewer than 25 percent of its staff identifying as ethnic minorities.

“We have lots to celebrate regarding our students’ access, but I don’t think our numbers for staff reflect the minority population,” said Regent Glen Gallegos, R-Grand Junction. “We hear this as an issue every year. When you talk about regent laws and policies and it talks about diversity and inclusion – and as a public university – we need to mirror what the rest of the state looks like.” The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2013 the state of Colorado had a 33 percent minority population.

Robert Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusiveness at CU-Boulder, said attracting and retaining minority faculty and staff is a challenge at higher education institutions across the country. At CU-Boulder, 19 percent of instructional faculty – including tenured, non-tenure track and research instructors – and 24 percent of staff identified as ethnic minorities. Minorities are characterized as African-American, Asian-American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and more than one race.

Boswell said peer institutions across the country, such as the University of Michigan, are collectively averaging 9.1 percent minority representation among faculty. CU-Boulder is taking part in a consortium with peer institutions to encourage faculty diversity though the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Through the program, CU-Boulder recruited about 100 candidates whose work, research, teaching and service would contribute to diversity at the university. In comparison, the University of Michigan received only 50 applicants, he said. Positions at CU-Boulder were offered to five candidates, two of whom accepted.

Kee Warner, associate vice chancellor of inclusion and academic engagement at CU Colorado Springs, said the disparity is an ongoing issue. At UCCS, 15 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty and 21 percent of staff identify as ethnic minorities. He said the minority faculty and staff population had dropped 1 percent from the past year.

“We’re working with the Human Resources Office to develop a new program for training ‘diversity champions,’” he said. More than 130 faculty and staff have been trained and are regularly assigned to search committees, he reported.

Brenda Allen, associate vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, said the campuses’ percentage of minority faculty was 15 percent of tenure track and 9 percent of non-tenure-track instructors identifying as minorities. She praised the efforts of Faculty Council, which has recommended that diversity and inclusion activities be factored into faculty evaluations.

“The more we do to establish the University of Colorado as a university that is committed to diversity and inclusion in a variety of ways, the word will get out, people will become attracted,” Allen said.

The diversity officers and board agreed on the importance of expanding the definition of diversity beyond ethnic minorities to include GLBTI, veterans and diversity of political and philosophical thought.

“We’re doing so much better than we have in the past,” said Regent Irene Griego, D-Denver. “Sometimes you have to look to growing our own. We have to start with young people, working with them so they can visualize themselves as a professor with tenure at the University of Colorado.”

Gallegos asked that CU Anschutz Medical Campus be broken out as an individual campus when reporting the diversity statistics in the future. He also suggested the board determine guidelines or goals, “so every year we don’t hear we haven’t improved or we haven’t gotten anywhere with it.”