Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Chancellor Coombe calls diversity a must for DU

In the quest to build a campus culture of inclusive excellence, the University of Denver community has reached a point where it can celebrate its successes, Chancellor Robert Coombe told a large crowd of DU students, faculty, staff and community members May 1 at the 8th annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence.

The event was presented by DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence and sponsored by a wide range of campus organizations.

“Diversity and inclusivity are prerequisites for the excellence we want to provide for our students, faculty and community,” Coombe said. “While there is a long way to go, we’re reaching a point where we can celebrate who we are and what were are becoming.”

The theme for this year’s summit was “Great Hope and Major Changes: Building Engaged and Inclusive Communities.” Speakers, panelists and attendees talked about how DU can continue to embed inclusiveness in all aspects of the institution while acknowledging the changes and opportunities impacting both the country and DU.

“These are challenging times, but challenges also present tremendous opportunities,” said Jesús Treviño, associate provost for multicultural excellence. “Crisis is an opportunity to rethink our relationships and build our team. As we take care of ourselves and our community, we can explore the great hope that DU offers us all.”

Attendees could choose from 29 workshop sessions on topics ranging from racism and sexism in queer culture to embedding inclusive excellence in the annual performance review process.

Mamta Motwani Accapadi, dean of student life at Oregon State University and an expert in identity development and privilege exploration, gave the keynote address.

Accapadi encouraged attendees to adopt the concept of polyculturalism, rather than multiculturalism.

“Multiculturalism implies that societies exist and develop in relation to one another, but not with one another,” Accapadi said. “Polycuturalism rejects the idea that cultures are fixed and exist simply side-by-side, to embrace the overlap between them.”

Accapadi said that each person holds multiple identities and that all of society is in a permanent state of flux, but that it is our nature to find commonalities between us.

“But if we choose to connect with each other, we can make a change on a global level,” she said.  “We have the capacity to make systemic change within our levels of privilege.”

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