The University of Colorado system’s strategic plan will include a pillar for diversity and inclusion following input from students, faculty and staff from all four campuses, President Mark Kennedy said this week.

The decision was made in the days following an altercation in which a white woman accosted black CU Boulder students on campus, calling them racist epithets, which was caught on video and sparked student protests and calls for reform.

Kennedy did not tie the change to that incident, but to input from a variety of groups.

“This whole strategic planning process is only helpful to the extent you have buy-in across a wide section of people,” he said.

System and campus leaders are currently in the throes of crafting the strategic plan, which will take shape over the eight months and go to the Board of Regents for approval in July. The plan’s other pillars are access, affordability and student success; discovery and impact; and fiscal strength.

“We agree that diversity is vital and important and deserving of a fourth pillar, but we also don’t want it to be isolated,” Kennedy said. “The only reason we didn’t have it in the beginning was a hesitancy to have it be an isolated column that wasn’t infused through every step.”

System Faculty Council Chair Joanne Addison said she was glad the strategic planning committee finally added a diversity pillar.

“It’s something faculty, staff and students felt was important, and now we need to make sure that the university is held accountable for actually doing some really great work around diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said.

Administrators did see an increase in feedback around diversity after the Boulder incident, Kennedy said.

“But you’re going to see upticks because we’re not perfect and there are going to be things that remind us of our imperfection,” Kennedy said. “That will hopefully redouble our commitment to do what we can to expand diversity and inclusion throughout the system and among the understanding of our students.”

Other current diversity initiatives include hiring a system chief diversity officer and a diversity and engagement survey that will go out to faculty, staff and students at all four campuses.

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