Colorado Diversity Initiative

Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus


The Colorado Diversity Initiative (CDI) prepares undergraduates for graduate school, recruits and retains a growing number of doctoral students, and prepares recent PhD recipients for faculty positions through elite postdoctoral fellowships. Its Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training (SMART) program prepares 25 high achieving minority students from institutions nation-wide for doctoral programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The 10-week summer program provides in-depth research experience with a faculty mentor at a leading research university. The National Institutes of Health–Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholars Program is a year-round comprehensive research program for University of Colorado (CU)-Boulder students majoring in any bioscience or bioengineering field. Approximately 25 NIH-HHMI scholars participate in either entry- or advanced-level research. Both programs offer workshops on scientific writing and dissemination, GRE preparation and the application process for graduate school.

Program Description

The overall mission of CDI is to catalyze institutional transformation, reinforcing the principal that diversity is valued at all educational and administrative levels in academe. To this end, CDI oversees the National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NSF-AGEP) and the National Institutes of Health Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (NIH-IMSD) to:
(1) Enlarge the national pool of prospective minority STEM graduate students
(2) Recruit minority students into Colorado STEM doctoral programs
(3) Retain and graduate minority STEM doctoral students 
(4) Prepare students for careers in academe with elite postdoctoral fellowships


CU-Boulder first applied for NSF-AGEP funding in spring 2000. Fall 1999 enrollments were used as a baseline, and at that time, there were 41 underrepresented doctoral students in STEM departments (4% of total enrollment). Data from fall 2007 indicates enrollment of 80 underrepresented minority doctoral students, an increase of almost 100% and 6% of total STEM students. Of the 80 doctoral students, 56 (70%) are Hispanic. The minority enrollment in the College of Engineering more than tripled during this same time period, increasing from eight students (2% of total) to 26 (6%) in fall 2007. The College awarded seven PhDs to underrepresented minorities in the fiscal year ending June 2007. Since fiscal year 2000, CUBoulder has awarded 65 PhDs to minorities, 46 (70%) of which went to Hispanics.