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University of Colorado Denver

College of Arts & Media

Dean's Messages

May 2, 2016


In our retreats and mission/values planning (Golden Circle), “Diversity of Voices” is part of the how of CAM. Diversity is a closely held value. That sure sounds good—but what does it mean? Let me share some of the steps we have taken as examples of a commitment to inclusion and diversity: 

Recently, we’ve been strengthening our college by focusing on inclusive hiring practices: 

  • Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Brenda Allen met with the search committee for the MEIS Chair to assure that diversity would be a central principle of the search process. MEIS faculty were asked to nominate individuals to help assure a diverse pool of applications. 
  • Three recent additions to the faculty and staff have brought individuals who offer culturally diverse perspectives. 
  • The priority request from CAM for new faculty/staff (AY 2017) was a faculty position that would be for both teaching and Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. That request was not funded. 

We’re being intentional and thoughtful to strengthen our current and future programming with strong themes of diversity: 

  • The CAM Diversity Council continues to meet, and recently completed a planning retreat. They will soon release recommendations. 
  • The deans of CAM and the College of Architecture and Planning are meeting with Brenda Allen to see how an event in 2017 might be planned to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and find ways to highlight how diversity and inclusion can be advanced by the common threads found in both Arts & Media and Architecture and Planning. 
  • CAM helped sponsor Michelle Norris (NPR Host and Special Correspondent, and Founder of the Race Card Project) who presented a speech at CU Denver on April 21, 2016. 
  • The 2016 Winter Convocation with John Hockenberry (host of The Takeaway) helped us advance our commitment to diversity and inclusion with regards to outreach. We featured a program and panel rich in ethnic diversity and gender, diversity of age and ability and diversity of experience and thought. Five CU Denver faculty, students and administrators were interviewed on The Takeaway and those interviews were released online and archived reaching millions of listeners. The Takeaway has attracted a more diverse audience, with African American listenership exceeding public radio averages by 60%. 

We’ve taken some steps to start expanding/globalizing CAM’s curriculum to create a more diverse context for learning: 

  • MEIS is conducting a search for a tenure track music history position to specialize in non-western music. This is a hire that is rich in potential to help diversify the curriculum. 
  • VA just made a hire of non-western art historian with a specialization in Chinese Art. 

Current Colorado demographics show that the population breakdown is 81% Caucasian; 20% Latino; 4% African America and 2% Asian. The Chronicle of Higher Education states that children born today in Colorado will grow up with these differentials in demographics: 

By 2030: 

  • Caucasian -7.5% 
  • Hispanic +20% 
  • African America -8% 
  • And other +13% 

How will our curriculum and faculty/staff hiring reflect the above statistics? What do our students see when they choose courses?  A cursory look at the course titles and descriptions show that out of more than 1000 active CAM courses, 10 TFVP, 14 VA and three MEIS courses indicated global content in the titles and descriptions (what students use to search for courses). My challenge to CAM is to continue teaching quality classes that reflect diversity and inclusion—and add courses that provide value to our programming and curriculum. 

What can we be doing to sustain and enhance inclusive practices? How can this information inform and strengthen our student recruitment and enrollment and programming efforts? 

Im proud of our efforts thus far, but know we can do more and do better. I look forward to supporting proposals and initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion and to continuing this important dialogue. 


Laurence D. Kaptain, DMA and FRSA 
Dean, College of Arts & Media (CAM) 
University of Colorado Denver ​