DU Blazes a Trail of Dishonesty, Malfeasance, and Deception

LetsGoDU has learned from several sources that the “Trailblazers” name was to have been a key thematic element in Chancellor Rebecca Chopp’s upcoming State of the University speech. Our sources have also indicated that the “Trailblazers” concept was not only a speech theme but was likely the intended seed of a Trojan horse replacement for DU’s 93-year-old nickname “Pioneers”.

In the days since we exposed DU’s recent mask policy as a politically-motivated tool intended largely to ban the unofficial mascot Denver Boone from campus, the University’s honesty and intentions regarding our 93-year old nickname “Pioneers” have also come into serious question. Our sources tell us that while the administration disdained the word “Pioneers” as traditional and western, they saw the concept of “Trailblazers” as being an acceptable replacement.

It seems that DU’s senior leaders were not only actively working to slice DU from its western traditions, they were doing it through a covert web of lies, deception, and disdain for DU’s largest constituency – its alumni. Indeed, the malfeasance of senior leadership daily continues to draw DU into further disrepute.

We have written previously about Renell Wynn, DU’s Vice Chancellor for Communications, who advised key alumni of the so-called “mask” policy only AFTER the policy was a fait accompli – already approved by members of the Board of Trustees. Wynn’s use of “safety” as her cover story for the policy backfired when Don Enloe, DU’s Director of Campus Safety, admitted to the Denver Post that other schools’ mascots would be allowed inside Magness Arena (while Denver Boone would be banned from his home arena by the policy). Interestingly, we haven’t heard a single quote or release from Wynn since this story broke, and she’s Vice-Chancellor for Communications. Hmmm…

We also have drawn into doubt the credibility of Dr. Liliana Rodriguez and Dr. Frank Tuitt, the “inclusive excellence” leaders who co-authored the “smoking gun” anti-Boone letter of January 2017, which assured students that “procedures” were being created to eliminate Boone. It is also important to note that in the original version of the “mask” policy posted in late December 2017 on the DU website, Rodriguez’s office was to be the contact point for requesting exceptions to the policy — until the exception language mysteriously disappeared in an Orwellian puff of smoke before January 1, 2018.

Rodriguez also likely had a key role in encouraging her staff to work with student groups such as Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Native Student Association (NSA) to create new mascots and to actively campaign against the Pioneer nickname, respectively. By actively promoting disunity and division, such acts were over-reaching, manipulative and wedge-driving. Indeed, such activities appear to be less those of “inclusive excellence” and more those of “exclusive insolence”.

Now, we also question the credibility of Ed Rowe, the Chancellor’s Director of Special Projects, whose e-mail replies to angry alumni have further eroded trust. Indeed, the inauthentic form e-mails and awkward language in his some of his talking points are suggestive of obfuscation, rather than honesty.

  1. Ed Rowe Talking Point: “That [nickname] rumor is false”

That’s an incomplete statement if we’ve ever seen one. Are the Chancellor and Board of Trustees committed to the identity “Denver Pioneers” going forward or not?

  1. Ed Rowe Talking Point: “The Chancellor and Board have affirmed our use of Pioneers”

It is obvious to anyone that the words “have affirmed” is in the past tense. And what does the phrasing “use of Pioneers” mean? Does it mean we have “used” the term in the past, but it may be changing now? What we need to know is, are we Pioneers going forward or not?

  1. Ed Rowe Talking Point: “DU is proud of the ways our faculty conduct pioneering research and pave the way in student-centered education focused on the public good”

Here ‘pioneer’ is being used as a verb, suggesting that while we are being ‘pioneering’, we may not be ‘Pioneers’. Not only does this avoid the question of commitment to Pioneers, it actually appears to be laying a path to the concept of being ‘Trailblazers’ rather than ‘Pioneers.’ We aren’t asking about research. We are asking: Are we Pioneers going forward or not?

  1. Ed Rowe Talking Point: “Denver Pioneers create new companies and nonprofits, they find new solutions to complex problems and they are committed to making the world a better place.”

Can you please answer our questions instead of trying to snow us with platitudes? DU must think we’re children! What we want to know is: Are we Pioneers now and forever? 

Finally, where have the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees been while key senior team members have been running a harmful agenda, creating disingenuous policies, avoiding the alumni, trying to erase the western history from our traditions and writing meaningless and obfuscating communications?

We deserve better than this, DU.  We entrust our leaders to provide stewardship, honesty, and competence. And there can be no grey area where it concerns honesty.

According to the DU website, “All members of the University of Denver are expected to uphold the values of Integrity, Respect, and Responsibility. These values embody the standards of conduct for students, faculty, staff, and administrators as members of the University community. 

“Our [DU] values are defined as:
    * Integrity: acting in an honest and ethical manner;
    * Respect: honoring differences in people, ideas, and opinions;
    * Responsibility: accepting ownership for one’s own conduct.”

As engaged alumni, we’ve observed what may be lot of potential violations of these values.

DU, you have let us down.

Now is the time for alumni and fans to let our school know where we stand on this issue.

Readers: Please let the Board of Trustees know how you feel in the most cogent, well-written way you can at Boardoftrustees@DU.edu and cc your emails to alumni@du.edu.