At CU Town Hall, administrators talk immigration issues, political climate and diversity on campus

At the Spring Town Hall on Monday, Chancellor Philip DiStefano and a panel of administrators updated the community on the progress of diversity goals and CU’s priorities. Before introducing the panelists at the UMC, DiStefano addressed the controversial speakers CU has seen recently, the political climate on campus and concerns related to the recent travel ban.

“These are all things we take very seriously,” DiStefano said. “We are addressing them as we are able and as is appropriate for the university.”

He then discussed a recent initiative called the Campus Quick Response Team, which will respond to emerging issues like immigration. He hopes the team will guarantee that students on campus have resources available to ensure they are constantly aware of what is happening within the political sphere.

“We are in rapid response mode to these quickly changing issues,” he said.

DiStefano outlined three priorities — he calls them “strategic imperatives” — for CU. The first is student success. The second is attempting to become the nation’s most innovative university, specifically by collaborating with other universities, industries and different perspectives. Finally, the third imperative, DiStefano said, is the plight to positively impact humanity in all possible ways.

The chancellor then introduced five panelists, including Kelly Fox, CU’s senior vice chancellor and chief financial officer, and Terri Fiez, vice chancellor for research and innovation. CU’s provost and the deans of the media and engineering colleges were also on the panel.

Most of their comments reinforced DiStefano’s statements regarding the strategic imperatives, and its crucial role for the CU community. They discussed inclusive excellence — the administration’s term for making diverse students feel included — and how it touches the daily lives of students, especially in terms of getting involved on campus. In the future, they want to make all programs as accessible as possible to all students.

“I would say that academic and inclusive excellence is the number one strategic imperative for the College of Media, Communication and Information,” said Lori Bergen, founding dean of the new college.

Although the faculty of CMCI is not widely diverse, Bergen believes it is still able to create programs and a community that students of color and first generation students feel a part of.

Bobby Braun, dean of the college of engineering, added that inclusive excellence is important to him and is a large aspect of the engineering field. He strives to provide it for the engineering students by creating certain events like CU Unity Day. Graduate students even initiated an event where engineering students come together to celebrate the different backgrounds within the program.

“In engineering, it’s not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do,” he said. “Those of you that know about engineering know that it’s become a global endeavor. Anyone that is going to have success in engineering is going to have to know how to work in diverse teams.”

The town hall ended with questions from the audience, where audience members asked questions about how the imperatives will directly impact students on a day-to-day basis.

“Everything that we provide will be reflective of the imperatives, so they will touch the lives of students directly,” Bergen said.

Other panelists said the goals give direction for the type of environment the administration wants to foster within the community.

“Stating our strategic imperatives allows us to prepare everything we do here to produce students that we want to graduate in the future,” said Russell Moore, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Contact CU Independent News Features Editor Charlotte Bowditch at

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