Since its inception in 1969, CII has served thousands of students, helping them to persist, thrive, and graduate. Similar to many universities in the U.S., our intuition developed Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) during the Civil Rights era as higher education opened its doors to members of underrepresented groups. During the late 1960s, there was widespread public outcry and activism for greater access to higher education for underrepresented populations. The CU Denver EOP was established and played a vital role in the outreach and recruitment of underrepresented students. In an effort to increase retention of underrepresented students, EOP offered academic advising, cultural programming, mentorship, scholarship assistance, and admissions assistance. EOP founded the Pre-Collegiate program to help increase access to higher education for underrepresented students. The Ethnic Studies department was spearheaded by the directors of the EOP office and they often taught some of the courses. Due to the success and impact of the Pre-Collegiate Program and Ethnic Studies department, they were eventually developed in their own program or department.
In the summer of 2017, EOP changed its name to the Center for Identity & Inclusion (CII) to reflect the programs and services offered at CU Denver and evolve with the students’ needs. CII originally started with support services for students who self-identified as Hispanic and American Indian. A few years’ later student support services for students who self-identified as Asian American and Black were developed. In the summer of 2012 the programs for American Indian, Asian American, Black and Hispanic Student Educational Programs and Outreach, changed their names to American Indian, Asian American, Black and Hispanic Student Services to reflect the work each program was and continues to do. Hispanic student services changed the name of the program to Latin@ student services in 2014 to be more inclusive of the diverse community. In 2016 Latin@ Student Services changed their name to Latinx student service from feedback from students who wanted a program name to be more inclusive. CII remains an integral part of CU Denver as the only unit whose programs focus explicitly on American Indian, Asian American, Black, and Latinx students. The proportion of undergraduate students of color at CU Denver has increased each year since 2005. In the Fall of 2017, 60% of new freshmen were students of color. Consequently, there is a heightened need for intentional, inclusive programming that optimizes the potential for ALL students to benefit from being members of a diverse student body.