Dear Faculty, Staff and Students of the College of Arts & Media,
As your Dean, and with the support of the Diversity Council of the college, I would like to comment on the recent national events that seem counter to the mission and values of not just the College of Arts & Media—but the essential culture of creators, performers, designers, scholars, researchers, technologists and others who are engaged at many levels of the creative industries and scholarly work.
As a candidate (2014) for the deanship of the College of Arts & Media, diversity and inclusion were addressed in my presentations, application letter and leadership statement. On September 23, 2016, I sent a letter to the entire college restating my own dedication to diversity—and attached the Provost’s statement.
As Dean of a nationally visible arts & media unit it is important for me to comment on several recent announcements and executive orders that many view as limiting creativity and the free exchange of ideas.
First off, I am proud to live in both a state and city with a Governor and Mayor who have proclaimed their support of human rights and denounced the limitations that are being placed on refugees and innocent people who deserve to compliment and enhance the diversity of our nation. Secondly, I am inspired by the strong statements that Chancellor Horrell and Chancellor Elliman have made. As Chancellor Horrell noted in her missive, CU Denver currently has 1,500 international students overall, and 58 students from the seven countries mentioned in several Executive Orders. She shared the following definitive statement in her note to the campus, which I wholeheartedly support:
“Appropriate vetting processes have brought CU Denver international students and faculty from all countries and diverse faiths, and we are confident that the processes can be administered in a way that continues this tradition. CU Denver welcomes students, faculty and staff of all national origins, religious beliefs, races and all other identities in our community, and we will not tolerate any discrimination or harassment against any member of that community.”
The dialogue about immigration hits very close to home. Many of you know that my wife, Dolores, immigrated to the United States shortly after we got married. When we met, she was a foreign national working for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City (commended by the U.S. Department of State for her service during the 1985 Mexico City earthquakes) and I was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico. Since arriving in the U.S. she has dedicated herself to advancing justice and human rights for both immigrants and all U.S. citizens. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox appointed her to a commission called Mexicans Living Abroad. Because of her distinguished service (notably, in health and education) she stayed active on that commission even after her term ended. At the age of 47, she attended the Police Academy in Winchester, Virginia and became the first Latina police officer in that city. After moving to Baton Rouge, she became the first Latina criminal investigator for the Division of Sex Crimes and Child Abuse—where she wore a badge and carried a weapon—because of the inherent dangers of that job. Our oldest son, Emiliano, is a 2nd Lt. in the United States Air Force and a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. I am very proud that Dolores and son Diego hold dual citizenship (U.S. and Mexico). I am also proud to be a member of an ethnically diverse family and to have a research portfolio that is focused on the musics of southernmost Mexico and northern Central America, and numerous professional recordings that shared the musical cultures of Mesoamerica with an international audience. This information is being shared to provide both context for my statements and beliefs, and also the shock our family feels with the deteriorating governmental relationship with Mexico.
So that this letter to faculty, staff and students goes beyond words, here are some actions that reflect the importance of diversity and inclusion in the College of Arts & Media:
1) Members of the CAM Diversity Council and others attended the Inclusive Campus Action Network (ICAN) w/Dr. Brenda J Allen, Vice-Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, on December 9, 2016. It seemed that CAM had the largest number of attendees at this important interactive event. There was a follow-up meeting on December 16, 2016 of the CAM attendees to outline action steps.
2) All CAM searches for faculty and staff seek diverse pools of applicants. Dr. Brenda Allen has consulted with CAM leadership—and Human Resource Director Stephanie Kelly to assure practices that embody fairness, diversity and inclusion in all searches. Recent leadership searches (MEIS Chair, for example) resulted in an inclusive pool of finalists in terms of both gender and diversity.
3) The addition of two new tenure-track positions (Asian art history and ethnomusicology) reflect a much needed boost to diversify course offerings—but more hires need to be made to continue broadening the curriculum and reflecting the changing demographics of Denver, the State of Colorado and the nation.
4) The need to actively uphold (through our actions) Chancellor Horrell’s statement in her message of last week, “CU Denver welcomes students, faculty and staff of all national origins, religious beliefs, races and all other identities in our community, and we will not tolerate any discrimination or harassment against any member of that community.
The membership of the CAM Diversity Council is as follows: Shannon Squires, chair, professors Quintin Gonzalez, Peter Stoltzman, Craig Volk and Aleysia Whitmore, and staff members Stephanie Kelly, Leah Haloin, Karin Hunter-Byrd, Katryn Bowdle, and Mariah Coughlin. Please reach out to them as we work toward enhancing program and curricula to increase mutual understanding, hiring practices, and any other matters regarding culture and climate in CAM.
You can reference CAM’s strategic initiatives on diversity and inclusion at any time on our website:
If you have any questions about these, or wish to engage in dialogue, please reach out to CAM Diversity Council chair, Shannon Squires.
CAM faculty, staff and students who are impacted by these executive orders may seek information and counsel from International Student and Scholar Services at 303-315-2230 (press “0”) or ISSS@ucdenver.edu
We have numerous faculty and students who have traveled frequently to the Middle East for research, creative work, student recruitment, development, commissioned work, and accreditation reviews. The current confusion makes it less likely that these activities can be sustained until some sort of clarity is obtained.
For anyone in our CAM community considering travel that may have implications surrounding recent executive orders, please contact the university's International Student and Scholar Services Office.
In the most difficult times in our nation’s history, creative people and scholars have provided paths to equality and freedom. As your dean, I am calling on you to join me in assuring that we will continue to advance mutual understanding while not tolerating any discrimination or harassment against any member of our community regardless of identity or political affiliation.
Laurence D. Kaptain, Dean
College of Arts & Media, University of Colorado Denver