Chancellor's Communiqué

Addressing Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Justice at CU Denver, 6-22-2020

Dear CU Denver Community,

The legacy of slavery and racism has plagued this nation for centuries. We see it today in ways, large and small, that produce inequities that continue to threaten Black lives. These conditions have been brought to the forefront once again as a result of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.

We at CU Denver support and join with those who are collectively raising their voices against racial injustice. As a public urban research university, our values and core identity are centered around our commitment to equity, fostering an educational community that is representative of the diversity of our society, and embracing the differing viewpoints that emerge from this community.

We consider these to be among our greatest strengths. However, at this pivotal moment, it is not enough for us to tout our diversity or our values and believe we have met our responsibility in addressing racial bias and equity.

We have in recent weeks received a number of requests to evaluate how CU Denver may be contributing to structures of systemic racial injustice, whether within our own institution or through our relationships with other systems such as police departments.

We know that we need a comprehensive and cohesive approach to address these issues in a thoughtful, holistic, and systematic way. And we know that the urgency of the moment requires that we do this quickly.

At the same time, we are about to undergo a change in leadership. Chancellor Horrell’s last day at the university is this Friday and Chancellor-Designate Marks begins her tenure here on July 1.

Recognizing the magnitude and immediacy of the need, we will take the following steps:

  • Chancellor-Designate Marks will, in her first 10 days at the university, hold listening sessions with governance groups and other campus community members on the role and responsibility of the university in addressing institutional and societal racism. There will be some general sessions where all students, faculty, and staff can join.

  • The week of July 13-17 will be spent synthesizing the information learned.

  • On July 20, Chancellor Marks will announce the concrete actions the university will take next.
  • One of these actions will be working with the CU Anschutz Medical Campus on the resumed national search to fill the position of our vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.

All future actions will build on the hard work of those who have championed diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging on our campus and in our community for years. We are grateful to them for having shouldered the responsibility of this work for so long, and today are affirming our commitment to build on their legacy to realize our full potential as a community.

Together, we will guide CU Denver to new heights of racial equity and justice.

Dorothy Horrell, Chancellor
Michelle Marks, Chancellor-Designate

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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