University of Colorado writing instructor Felicia Rivas, left, is led by environmental engineering junior Kelly Mitchell, who has a vision disability, at
University of Colorado writing instructor Felicia Rivas, left, is led by environmental engineering junior Kelly Mitchell, who has a vision disability, at CU's annual diversity summit Tuesday. ( JESSICA CUNEO )
Diversity summit

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The University of Colorado began its diversity summit Tuesday with discussions about building multiculturalism, economic inequities in Boulder and an exercise that allowed people to use wheelchairs to navigate the campus.

How to create a more welcoming environment for foreign students has emerged as a theme at this year's summit, as enrollment of international students on the Boulder campus reached an all-time high this year. A few sessions Thursday will focus on international education, including one that covers academic success of foreign students.

CU's 2012 diversity summit runs through Thursday.

During a panel discussion about diversity and CU's long-term plans, Provost Russell Moore said the Boulder campus has about 200 diversity programs, and while they are all well-intended, the university needs to evaluate the programs that are most successful and those that may be redundant.

Moore also said the university is making more investments in services for international students and that there should be meaningful changes in place by next year to better address the growing international student body.

The provost's comments were in response to a statement made by audience member Gookjin Jeong, a CU student from Korea who is double majoring in international affairs and economics. Jeong said resources for international students -- many of whom are learning a new language and adapting to new cultures -- are not adequate.

Jeong suggested that there be more English tutoring. And, although the student government recently added a new liaison position for international students, Jeong said perhaps several liaisons could represent different regions of the world.

For his part, Jeong said he's applying to become a campus guide to help new or potential international students get better acquainted with Boulder.

CU plans to continually increase the recruitment of international students so there are eventually 900 new students every year and a total of 3,240 -- making up roughly 10 percent of the student body.

This fall, there are 1,643 degree-seeking students with student visas, an all-time high for the campus.

CU's international student body contributes $48 million annually to the Boulder economy, according to Larry Bell, director of international education at CU.

City Manager Jane Brautigam also led a session Tuesday about economic diversity in Boulder, saying some students can't afford to live within city limits.

She also discussed economic and educational gaps between Boulder's white and Latino residents. The median family income in Boulder for white families is $104,000, but it's just $29,400 for Latino families, according to her presentation.

Also, there's an income gap between men and women in Boulder, with the median income for men older than 25 at $45,100, compared with $30,800 for women. Men with graduate or professional degrees who live in Boulder are earning $76,000 on average, compared with $41,500 for women with advanced degrees.

About 8 percent of Boulder's white residents are without health insurance, compared with 37 percent of Latinos, according to Brautigam.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-13132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.