Over the last decade, the importance of campus diversity has struck a chord amongst students and educators—not just in college, but in our communities. The benefits of diversity can be found on campus and in the workplace. In fact, the “AGB Board of Directors’ Statement on Governing Board Accountability for Campus Climate, Inclusion, and Civility” states that “Diversity is a part of the value proposition for the institution and for higher education because of its demonstrated educational benefits for all students.” And although many schools take this message to heart, Colorado College (CC) has incorporated it in to the fabric of the institution, bolstered by its focus in the CC strategic plan.
Under “Diversity at CC”, Colorado College has created dashboards that highlight diversity in a number of critical areas, including student body, graduation rates, and demographics of their board of trustees. Data lovers will appreciate the charts and graphs that describe a campus focused on equality in a multitude of forms. The dashboards hold students, administrators, and the board accountable for the policies, programs, and cultural norms that govern life on campus, because it’s simple to see when the numbers fall and when they rise.
However, data is not the only way to promote diversity, and CC has chosen to complement their data information with a series of “Untold Stories” of marginalized persons who have studied, taught, and worked at CC. Beginning in 2018, the project contains five powerful stories (and counting). Many of the stories are accounts of individuals who experienced racism, sexism, xenophobia, or “otherness” that left emotional bruising and trauma, and yet they overcame such prejudices to make immensely positive contributions to the community. In the words of CC President Jill Tiefenthaler, “This work is crucial to building a community that sees, hears, respects, and honors everyone.”
Diverse work places. Diverse boards. Diverse society. Colorado College is demonstrating why these goals are so important to our country, and how we can achieve them.
AGB believes that colleges and universities can demonstrate the value of higher education in all its forms. There are innumerable ways that boards can consider how colleges and universities might communicate the broad value of higher education; how might the board elevate these efforts at your own institution?