Campus & Community

Coombe talks diversity at TEDxDU Salon

While much talk of diversity and inclusion at the University of Denver takes place on the administrative level, the heart of the matter lies not in policy, but in individual action, said Chancellor Robert Coombe.

“Oftentimes when my colleagues and I think about diversity and inclusion, it’s in these collective terms: What is the culture of the University like; how can we move this sort of thing forward; what kind of resources can we direct at it?” Coombe said. “But the truth of the matter is that it comes down to individuals. We may be 12,000 people on this campus, but it comes down to individuals.”

Coombe delivered his remarks to conclude “Inclusive Action,” a special TEDxDU Salon that took place May 4 in conjunction with the University of Denver’s Diversity Summit.

Speakers at the lunchtime salon included Claudia Hernandez-Ponce, a counselor in the Office of Admission, who spoke about how she integrated her Hispanic heritage with her life in the United States; Gregory Anderson, dean of the Morgridge College of Education, who shared how an innocent question from his son changed his perspective on life; and Phil Trinh, who encouraged the audience to challenge their perceptions and stop making assumptions.

Lynn Gangone, dean of the Women’s College, hosted the event, which was curated specifically to parallel the Diversity Summit’s theme of tackling the great issues of our day through action and inclusion.

“There’s been a lot of conversation during the course of the day about where we are as a community, about the opportunities that are in front of us, how we collect the strength that resides in all of our differences,” Coombe said. “It comes down to each one of us recognizing all of the barriers that we may personally face, the biases that we carry with us, and all of the things that have been compounded in the course of our lives.

“If we can each do that, and be brave enough to do that,” he said, “collectively we’ll find the strength of the institution.”

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