Remarks Given at City of Denver AAPI Apology Event

Chancellor Marks announces CU Denver's commitment to becoming the Nation's first Equity Serving Institution and support for our AAPI students, faculty and staff via our AANAPISI efforts, including historic preservation and education.

April 16, 2022

Thank you, Dr. Wei

I want to start by thanking the descendants of the Lung and Chin families.

It’s an honor to join you here today on our CU Denver campus – welcome.

And welcome all: Mayor Hancock; our CAPU [pronounced CAP-OO] leaders, and CU Denver’s amazing faculty and staff who are here to support and represent us today.

This historic event marks a critical step for our city, our broader Asian American community, and our collective future.

And it is consistent with our values at CU Denver, which is to acknowledge and honor history — not to hide or rewrite it.

And to use dialogue, knowledge exchange, and partnership to reach greater understanding, respect, and a path forward.

That is the power of higher education — to be a convener, to tackle difficult issues, to listen and teach.

And it is a role that CU Denver takes seriously and leans into actively.

As you may know, the No. 1 goal of our new 2030 strategic plan is to be the nation’s first equity-serving institution.

For us, this means we are creating an environment where one’s racial and social identity no longer predetermines educational outcomes and professional advancement opportunities.

We recognize inequities among all underserved communities and strive to address them through multifaceted approaches that include policy and structural reforms, inclusive academic programming and research opportunities, inclusive hiring and retention practices, and mutually beneficial partnerships.

This is an ambitious goa.

But we are all-in and know that we have a lot of work to do to get there.

For us, equity and diversity are core to who we are.

In fact, when I’m talking to our students and our alumni, they often tell me about their experiences.

And while our faculty and the rigor of their academic programming draw them here, it is our culture of belonging and commitment to DEI that keeps them here.

To provide a little perspective: We are the most diverse public urban research university in Colorado, and one-half of our undergraduates are students of color.

Our commitment to equity and belonging certainly extend to our Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander students, who make up nearly 14% of our population and enrich our campus community every day.

For context, we have the largest number of Asian American students in the region, which is a proud distinction.

Our university already supports 6 AAPI student organizations, ranging from leadership entities to extracurricular organizations.

As well, we support a number of affinity groups.

But we can and will do more.

As part of our journey to support this community and live up to our equity ethos, we are the first university in the Rocky Mountain region seeking AANAPISI status.

That means Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander status, which is a federal designation requiring at least 10% of our students to identify as part of these populations.

In the world of academia, this is a big deal.

Earning this status will unlock additional federal dollars for research and scholarship.

This will benefit our students, our faculty, and our ability to serve this community more effectively in the future.

Along the lines of supporting our students, I want to use this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank Mary Wu, the wife of the departed Jonathan T. H. Wu, a guiding light in CU Denver’s Department of Civil Engineering who passed away in 2020 after serving our university for 40 years.

Mary partnered with the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) to create the OCA Colorado Endowed Scholarship Fund.

This fund supports first-generation undergraduates of primarily Asian American and Pacific Islander descent who plan to use their education to benefit the Colorado community.

These students represent our future. Supporting them and their educational paths is extremely important to me, to CU Denver, and many others.

In closing, we at CU Denver are here today to support and stand with our Asian American community and to own our role as an educational anchor institution in this great city.

At a time in our nation where division is on the rise — and Asian hate has made an ugly and destructive impact in our community and many other cities across the nation and world — we must stand together.

And as a college campus, we have to be the change that our society needs and build the future that our communities deserve.

I believe strongly that CU Denver, as an equity-serving institution guided by our incredible people, is leading that charge.

Thank you all again for joining us and for your support of the University of Colorado.

I’m incredibly honored to lead this institution, in downtown Denver, as we work together for a stronger Denver, Colorado, and world.

Thank you.

Remarks by:

Michelle Marks
CU Denver Chancellor