Campus & Community

Making connections in a world of difference: 5 students who are changing the face of DU

In the years to come, says Frank Tuitt, the University of Denver’s associate provost for inclusive excellence and associate professor of higher education, “everybody will need to navigate and be successful in a diverse society.”

After all, the composition of society is changing dramatically. Consider: The U.S. Bureau of the Census projects that by 2018, ethnic minorities 18 and younger will constitute a numerical majority within their age group. By 2043, the same will be true of the overall U.S. population.

What’s more, employers increasingly expect their employees to be able to negotiate a global marketplace, where they encounter people from different cultures and philosophical frameworks. They’ll be asked to share office space and collaborate effectively with people from all over the world and all walks of life.

With tomorrow’s workplace in mind, the University of Denver sponsors an annual Diversity Summit —  scheduled this year for Jan. 22–23. The two-day event features guest speakers, workshops and panel discussions focusing on topics related to inclusive excellence.

Read the Chancellor’s Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence

But just what is inclusive excellence?

“It’s a complex concept,” Tuitt acknowledges. “And it’s always evolving. You go to sleep with one definition and the next day it’s different.

“Sometimes we think of inclusive excellence as a thing, but to me it’s more of a process,” he adds, noting that the process includes everything from creating a campus climate that’s appreciative and supportive of diverse populations to addressing questions of access and equity.

Launched in 2001 by a handful of undergraduate students, the Diversity Summit has grown from a low-profile, one-day event to a high-profile, campus-wide program attracting as many as 700 faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the Denver community. The 2015 Diversity Summit attempts to remind participants of the progress realized and the challenges that remain. Its theme—Fifty Years Since Selma: Your Voice Still Matters!—references the famous 1965 march in Selma, Ala., where a peaceful assembly of people eager to support efforts for equal voting rights were greeted with violence. Selma called national attention to the need for comprehensive voting-rights legislation and was followed by passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in August 1965. Given that the Supreme Court recently invalidated key provisions of the act, the topic has fresh relevance today.

Today’s student community is active in driving the conversation about diversity. Meet some of the young men and women who are working — inside and outside the classroom — to continue the process of inclusive excellence.


Viki Eagle (BA ’12), second-year master’s student in higher education administration; involved with Native Student Alliance and the “Real Life Indian” photography portfolio project

Sergio Juarez, PhD student in communication studies, focusing on intercultural communication; involved with the Latina/o Graduate Association and Colorado Progressive Coalition

Victoria Lam, senior international business major; involved with the Asian Student Alliance, Excelling Leaders Institute, Diversity Summit and Colorado Asian Pacific Youth Association

Leslie Rossman, PhD candidate in communication studies; president and executive board member of Graduate Student Government

Jonathan Seals, senior double-majoring in political science and religious studies; involved with Colorado Black Student Leadership Conference, Excelling Leaders Institute, Black Student Alliance and Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation



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