As you know, since mid-January I’ve been engaged in the Reach Out and Listen Tour. My goal was to deepen my understanding of CU Denver while gathering input and ideas on how we can move to an even higher level of impact and success. The official tour ended in mid-April and I want to thank everyone who took the time to share your thoughts with me, and tell you about the early findings.
In two dozen meetings and numerous one-on-one conversations over the course of 80 days, I met with more than a thousand CU Denver students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as supporters, friends, and civic and community leaders. Input was also solicited through an online questionnaire, social media and a webcast. All told, we received some 5,000 suggestions, which we have been—and are currently— reviewing.
What I’ve learned through this process reinforces my initial impressions about the significant strengths of CU Denver: we have high-quality academic offerings; a remarkably diverse and driven student body; a faculty which excels at teaching, scholarly work, and service; hard-working staff members who are dedicated to furthering our mission; and abundant opportunities to leverage the considerable resources of Denver.
While there is palpable pride in where we are, there is also a widely-held realization that to sustain our momentum and move to the next level will require focus around clear priorities, increased alignment and integration of our efforts, streamlining of processes, and attention to resource utilization and growth.
Preliminarily, we have grouped the suggestions from the tour into these emerging themes:
- Articulate a CU Denver-specific, unifying aspirational direction
- Enhance student satisfaction and success
- Ensure the continued quality of the teaching and learning experience
- Achieve greater financial stability and sustainability
- Strengthen our position as one of the city’s and the region’s vital assets
- Create a more cohesive, collaborative CU Denver culture
Over the next month, we will continue to synthesize the listening tour results. During the summer, we will draft an aspirational direction and begin to shape a plan of action. At an event in early fall, we will lay out the next steps which will include opportunities for campus-wide participation. Our work will build on the 2008 strategic plan for CU Denver | Anschutz, which guides the dual-campus entity through 2020, and align with the initiatives and priorities identified by the CU Board of Regents.
Throughout the tour, I have been deeply moved and encouraged by your passion and commitment, and I am grateful to have received so much valuable insight. One thing I heard again and again is that many of you believe now is the time for CU Denver to ascend to the next echelon of public, urban research universities. That belief will be key as we move from listening to action, and collectively engage to make CU Denver an even better place to learn, discover and work.
Dorothy Horrell, PhD