Sep 192011
Authors: Mary Ontiveros

Over the past year as vice president for diversity, I have had the pleasure of leading the diversity planning efforts for the university. Several new initiatives have been developed to aid the university’s continuous efforts to achieve an environment that is inclusive and supportive.

A few examples of these initiatives include the implementation of the Native American Legacy Award, the development of committees to include the Multicultural Faculty and Staff Caucus and the Consultation Team for Incidents of Bias, and university-wide programs to include the Diversity Symposium and the High School Diversity Conference. Diversity programs require collaboration with several different entities and cannot be fully accomplished by one individual or unit.

Diversity is a university-wide initiative that entails the support, teamwork and enthusiasm of every person on campus. With the 11th Annual University Diversity Symposium, “The Challenge of Civility,” beginning today, it is a great time to learn about diversity on campus and how you can make a difference. Let me explain how I view diversity and how the Diversity Symposium can help enrich your experience here at CSU.

I think, over time, diversity has changed. There was a time when you would say “diversity” and what would come to mind is inclusion of ethnic groups or racial groups that have been historically underrepresented.

Generally, on this campus, that has meant Hispanic students, black students, Asian students and Native American students. Today, people talk about diversity in much more inclusive terms.

Diversity means any individual who is perhaps underrepresented in a particular area. More than anything, diversity means inclusiveness in treating individuals with respect and dignity and assuring that you have an environment that allows for that to happen. It also could mean making sure that people from a different race, religion or sexual orientation, with different ideas or with different ways of viewing the world, feel comfortable. Today, diversity really is a much broader and more inclusive term.

CSU’s mission statement says., “Inspired by its land-grant heritage, Colorado State University is committed to excellence, setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, service and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States and the world.” The Diversity Symposium is central to meeting the mission of the university by providing opportunities for individuals to learn different perspectives. If, in fact, if we are going to be able to meet our mission of providing a benefit to the citizens of Colorado, we need to understand the citizens of Colorado.

It is important that the symposium takes place early on in the academic year when new people are coming to campus with new ideas and are experiencing the university for the first time. Offering the symposium gives individuals a wonderful opportunity not only to hear about different perspectives, but also to dialogue with people who are experts in these areas.

The symposium gives individuals the chance to broaden their perspectives and ensure that people see that it is okay to have different perspectives and that the symposium is a safe place in which to voice them. Hosting the Diversity Symposium, and at such a critical time of year, is the first step in helping CSU fulfill its mission statement. I hope you will be able to join us for this unique and exciting event.

National Public Radio’s Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s longest-running national program, “All Things Considered,” will kick off this year’s events with her keynote address at 7 p.m. tonight in the Main Ballroom of the Lory Student Center.

Norris, an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience, began hosting “All Things Considered” with Robert Siegel and Melissa Block in 2002. In 2010, she released her first book, “The Grace of Silence: A Memoir,” which focuses on how America talks about race in the wake of Barack Obama’s presidential election.

To make a contribution to diversity at CSU, attend a session at the 2011 Diversity Symposium. To learn more about the full schedule and rich offerings available at this year’s symposium visit

Mary Ontiveros is the vice president for diversity at CSU.

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