During the late 1960s, there was widespread public outcry and activism for greater access to higher education for underrepresented populations. 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 institution developed Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) during the Civil Rights era as higher education opened its doors to members of underrepresented groups. The CU Denver EOP played a vital role in the outreach and recruitment of underrepresented students. EOP 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 an effort to increase the retention of underrepresented students, EOP offered academic advising, cultural programming, mentorship, scholarship assistance, and admissions assistance. EOP also founded the Pre-Collegiate Program at CU Denver to help increase access to higher education for underrepresented students. The Ethnic Studies department was spearheaded by the directors at EOP, they often taught some of the courses. Due to the success and impact of the Pre-Collegiate Program and Ethnic Studies department, they eventually developed in their own program or department.
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 Services due to feedback from the students who wanted the program name to be more inclusive.
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 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 2019, 58% of new freshmen were students of color.