The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellows is a pilot program at the University of Denver. During a two-year period, Faculty Fellows are the platform and driver for innovation and transformation for an inclusive environment for students, staff and faculties at unit level. The Faculty Fellows, in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the University of Denver provide support in five areas ranging from historically underrepresented faculty to advocacy and communication of diversity and inclusion within the academic sphere and beyond the university.

General Information


Case Study Provider


Name of the institution

University of Denver

Responsible person

Frank Tuitt

Contact details


Other links to online materials

Geographical area applied

Denver, Colorado, United States

Place of origin


Timeline of the project

1 april 2018 - 1 april 2020

Kind of organization in which the initiative takes place

Research University

Narrative, origins and objectives of the initiative

What kind of project is this? Please give a short description (summary) of it.

ODI Faculty Fellows is a pilot program of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at the University of Denver (DU). The initiative provides a framework for faculty staff to improve the sense of belonging and campus climate at the University of Denver. Data from student and staff assessment showed that a sense of belonging and campus climate were mostly perceived at unit level, e.g. the department someone works in specific majors/faculties of students.

To improve a campus-wide sense of belonging of students and staff at DU, ODI Faculty Fellows seeks out to embed unit specific faculty positions at local level. These Faculty Fellows are nominated in collaboration with deans of academic units and the ODI for a two-year funded position. During this time, Faculty Fellows are the platform for innovation and transformation for a more inclusive environment at unit local level. Together with other fellows, ODI, and the DU the Faculty Fellows provide vital support in five areas:

  • Historically underrepresented faculty support
  • Inclusive curriculum and pedagogy support
  • Faculty search support Unit level strategic planning towards Inclusive Excellence
  • Strategic planning efforts around Inclusive Excellence
  • Advocacy and communication efforts surrounding diversity and inclusion within their academic unit and beyond

Please tell us why, in general, this project is considered a successful one?

Faculty Fellows has ownership to accomplish the goals they incorporated in their strategic plan. The aim of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellow program is to improve the campus climate and sense of belonging for students and faculty at the University of Denver. During the selection process, Faculty Fellow candidates have to write a 2-year strategic plan for their activities and map the outcomes they wish to accomplish. This way the ODI is able to assess the strategic priorities of Faculty Fellows, how to support them and how to measure progress. This led up to various projects and initiatives being organized and completed to engage students and faculty members about diversity and inclusion.

By embedding Faculty Fellows at unit level the ODI, students, and faculty members know who to contact for diversity and inclusion-related topics at a specific unit. Additionally, there is a higher turn up rate among non-engaging students and faculty members when the activities are organized by Faculty Fellows instead of a central office. Finally, by having Faculty Fellows present at unit level, the ODI and/or students are able to communicate with them when incidents occur at specific units. This allows resources and capacity for ODI and the Faculty Fellows to react and strategize accordingly to improve the sense of belonging and campus climate.

And why would you consider it a grass-roots initiative?

Faculty members were already working on a sense of belonging and campus climate at unit level, but this was not accredit or formally recognized by the institution. A couple of faculty members came to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to formalize the work that they have already been doing so. The structure of ODI Faculty fellows allows organic ideas to emerge from the community, to be then filtered through formal structures in order to become an actual product.

What challenges needed to be solved in this project?

There are three main challenges that the ODI Faculty Fellows hopes to address are:

  • Lack of infrastructure to drive change at the unit level. To address this, the ODI keeps close contact with the Faculty Fellows. In addition, every Faculty Fellow is supported by a unit-based diversity and inclusion committee. Some of these committees were already present and some of them newly formed. By implementing a diversity and inclusion committee, a formal team is tasked to determine the help, needs, priorities and challenges when they emerge from the community.
  • The lack of support and sense of belonging for communities with the most need of support. Some of the activities under ODI Faculty Fellows are specifically targeted at the historically underrepresented and oppressed minority groups. This is done at student, staff and faculty level.
  • Because the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is so decentralized, the planning efforts did not completely translate to the contextual need for every unit. To tackle this issue, the Faculty Fellows and the diversity and inclusion committees are doing long term planning for activities and projects to improve the sense of belonging and unit level institutional change.

Is this initiative based on any particular theoretical framework? Which one?

The initiative ODI Faculty Fellow advances the work of Inclusive Excellence at the University of Denver. Inclusive Excellence is the recognition that a community or an institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the diversity among the students and staff members. The ODI used the framework of Inclusive Excellence to map out the 5 areas that ODI Faculty Fellows would focus on. In addition, Inclusive Excellence is used to frame how Fellows should think about the activities and work they engage in. Inclusive Excellence tackles the following 4 dimensions:

  • Access and equity at student, staff and faculty level
  • Campus climate, creating and sustaining an environment that is inclusive and positive for the sense of belonging
  • Curriculum and pedagogy
  • Learning and development

In theory, the first three dimensions are crucial to produce an optimal learning and development environment. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion intentionally embedded the first dimension throughout the Faculty Fellows so that areas with disparities in equity and access could be prioritized.

Inquiry based approach was used in developing the ODI Faculty Fellows initiative. A campus wide assessment was performed to understand and map the sense of belonging and campus climate among students, staff and faculties. This way the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was able to conceptually and organizationally construct an intervention that emerged out of the data from the assessment.

(Appendix) Is your intervention standing on its own or is it a part of a bigger and more holistic approach?

The ODI Faculty Fellows initiative is one intervention of many that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has running at the moment. The initiative is an advancement of the Inclusive Excellence framework that is one of the cornerstones of the University of Denver.


Please describe the group(s) intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

Why has this group (have these groups) been chosen?

The University of Denver has students and faculty members that are part of communities that have been historically underrepresented and marginalized. ODI Faculty Fellows aims to increase the chances that these individuals will have the opportunity to reach their maximum potential.

Could you please tell us something about the relative size of the (of each) target group, within the school/university population, region and/or country?

University of Denver has 12,000 students with approximately half of them being undergraduate and the other half graduate students. Respectively 18% and 21% of the students are domestic people of color. International people of color make up for 8-9% in both groups. The last two incoming classes at the university of Denver had a population of 25% domestic students of color with the international students comprising 11%.

Around 750 members are currently working at faculty level, with approximately 17,5% of them being domestic people of color. 7-8% of the faculty members are international people of color.

Which social characteristics are taken into account and what is the geographical area covered?

The most important factor in the social characteristics of the Faculty Fellows is that they need to believe and support the message of Inclusive Excellence. The deans of academic units nominate the Faculty Fellows. Additional characteristics is affinity towards one or multiple areas ODI Faculty Fellows provides support to. Lastly, the Faculty Fellows are evaluated on their commitment to Inclusive Excellence, improving the sense of belonging and campus climate.

On which level is the project implemented?

Please describe the political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Did the initiative have political support?

The initiative did not receive any political or external institutional support.

How did it fit with local, regional or national policies?

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellows is active in 5 of the 11 academic units at the University of Denver. These academic units include:

  • RSECS Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • GSSW University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
  • MCE Morgridge College of Education
  • CAAHS College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
  • JKSIS Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Who are the stakeholders supporting the initiative?

Are there particular demographic changes present that are influencing the project?

No particular demographic changes have influenced the project. There is an increase in student population of Latin and Asian American students. The student population for Black students has stayed the same.

What is the institutional strategy and culture of the (educational) organization?

To what extent does the initiative have an influence on institutional policy (or potential influence) of the (educational) organization?

After the implementation of Faculty Fellows, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has a much clearer sense of policies and best practices at unit level. The best practices that work on unit level are able to be evaluated for implementation university wide. The activities and programs under ODI Faculty Fellows have resulted in the following changes in policy:

  • Change in hiring guidelines for faculty members
  • A merit system for staff and faculty members that are engaging in activities for Inclusive Excellence

(Appendix) Is there public support for your initiative and the issue it addresses?

(Appendix) What other factors do you think have been important for the success of this initiative?

Please describe the overall initiative design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

Please describe the specific activities carried out.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellows started in the spring of 2018. Up until now, the following activities and programs have been carried out by the Fellows to address the 5 areas ODI Faculty Fellows provides support for.

  • Historically underrepresented faculty support


Meeting with all junior faculties of color to address the recruitment and hiring process, retention efforts and strategies, as well as support and resource development.

  • Inclusive curriculum and pedagogy support

A draft of an Inclusive Excellence workshop will be included in CAHSS Chairs & Directors’ training in the summer of 2018. Next to this, the person responsible drafted and shepherded CRES minor through review.

  • Faculty search support Unit level strategic planning towards Inclusive Excellence 

Research and literature was compiled regarding faculty of color recruitment and retention. Offered a report to MCE Deans detailing short & long term recruitment and retention efforts.  

  • Strategic planning efforts around Inclusive Excellence 

Information was gathered on potential projects including: Curricular Assessment and Planning Tool development and School Climate Project.

  • Advocacy and communication efforts surrounding diversity and inclusion within their academic unit and beyond

An affordable DU Engineering Summer Camp was run in July 2018 for high school students. More than 50% of the attendees were from families with annual incomes under $20,000.

What were the key roles (teacher, student, management team etc.) within the project?

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion provided the framework for the Faculty Fellows to receive credit and merit for the work they are doing surrounding Inclusive Excellence. The Faculty Fellows show leadership in their academic units to tackle the 5 areas, in which the program provides support for. Additionally, the Faculty Fellows are in close contact with the academic (associate) deans and the diversity committees in their respective unit and with the ODI. The diversity committees provide support for the Faculty Fellows in strategy, planning and enacting the activities in each unit. In collaboration with the ODI, the (associate) deans nominate individuals for the ODI Faculty Fellow initiative.

What ideas, tools, theories, models, methodology (etc.) have been used to reach the goals?

What are the final revenues of the project?

Please describe if your project ensured its sustainability

If so, how did you ensure the short-term impact of the project?

The ODI Faculty Fellows initiative started with a 2 year pilot in the spring of 2018. The program’s resources for this 2 year period were ensured before the start of the program. Intended outcomes and impact factors for the first year are mapped. This gives the ODI Faculty Fellows program goals to achieve and also assessment points to work towards to.

And how did you ensure the long-term impact of the project?

For mid- and long-term sustainability the intended outcomes and impact need to be analyzed for 2018 to further the project beyond the outcomes of the pilot needs to be evaluated.

Has your project been replicated elsewhere?

Please tell us about the resources used in this initiative

What was the budget for the initiative?

The Faculty Fellows are supported by the ODI, the (associate) deans and the diversity committee at their respective unit. The fellows also receive a stipend and a small programming budget for the activities and projects they perform in order to support the five areas of the initiative. Next to this, the ODI also has a central fellow that supports all the other ODI faculty fellows participating in the pilot project. The faculty fellows are also able to participate in training and development programs of Inclusive Excellence. The following budget draft was proposed:


Stipend                       * participating units               $5400

Course buyout            * participating units               $5400

Program Budget         * participating units               $3000

Graduate Fellow         1 for the entire program       $12,204

Total                                                                          $81,204


How much did the initiative depend on volunteers?

How were the costs perceived by the public/the sector/other stakeholders?

To what extent did the initiative achieve its objectives?

Please describe the evidence to support the success of your initiative.

The main objective of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Fellow programs was to improve a sense of belonging and campus climate for students, staff and faculties. The program started in the spring of 2018 and since then multiple activities and projects have been completed. The results of these activities and projects have therefore led to institutional change at the University of Denver to improve the sense of belonging and campus climate.

Did the intervention lead to any unintended (positive) outcomes?

What indicators (quantitative and qualitative) have you measured to demonstrate success?

(Appendix) How did you evaluate/monitor this intervention?