By Wanda James
My first three months serving as the regent for District 1 of the Colorado University System have been the most exhilarating experience of my life. It is truly a great privilege to meet with students and faculty members who represent the essence of higher education.
Serving as an agent of diversity, equity and inclusion has shown me how crucial representation is and how it fosters progress. At CU, we are making a difference, and I am committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or any other aspect of their identity. CU Boulder, my alma mater, recently inaugurated the Center for African and African- American Studies.
CU Boulder matched $1 million in private funding for the new center, which opened on the first day of Black History Month. The center’s founding director, Professor Reiland Rabaka, expressed that “a dream long-dreamed has materialized and become reality” through the center’s launch, also known as “the CAAAS.”
Advocating for diverse voices and telling powerful stories in higher education has been my favorite part of serving as your regent. I am proud to announce the hiring of Jeff Howard as Vice President of Communication in the system administration.
Mr. Howard is the only Black vice president at CU, and his talent is exceptional. However, we need to do better, and I am actively having outreach conversations at all administrative levels at CU to evaluate their diversity, equity and inclusion plans.
Your CU regents are working hard to address affordability issues that have significantly impacted enrollment and graduation rates in recent years. No student should go to college and not finish because they cannot afford it. I want all students to enjoy their experiences at our campuses without stressing over tuition fees.
This is a crucial aspect of inclusion, and we are making strides to achieve this goal. We are also focused on creating a more inclusive campus culture by promoting diversity through events and programming, such as guest speakers and cultural festivals, and ensuring that all members of our community feel valued and welcome. Moreover, we are committed to promoting equity through financial support for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
We have established scholarships and financial aid programs to guarantee that all students have equal access to the education they need to succeed. Each of our campuses is unique and integrates into its communities to offer the best experiences for our students. Our flagship campus in Boulder is stunning and awe-inspiring, but our other campuses are just as impressive.
CU Denver, our metro hub, has some of our most driven and life-experienced students who strike a balance between work, family and education. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs provides numerous educational opportunities for veterans and collaborates with service members, which makes me proud as a veteran and regent.
Lastly, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is a national leader in medical research and has made significant strides in advancing diversity and inclusion in the medical field through scholarships and recruitment programs. It is an honor to serve as a regent of this remarkable university system, and I look forward to continuing to build on the progress we have made.
Wanda James was first elected to the University of Colorado Board of Regents in November.