Happy 2017 and welcome back to campus! The start of a new year and a new
semester is an opportune time to reflect on a number of our major
accomplishments over the past year and look forward to what lies ahead in
the coming months.
Since joining you as chancellor last January, I’ve been gratified and
impressed by the remarkable work of our faculty and staff, and your
extraordinary dedication to our students and our mission. It’s clear you
recognize this is an important time in the life of our university, and
you care deeply about our future together. The perspectives you shared
during my listening tour
last spring are helping to chart our course, and led to five priorities for CU
Denver that I outlined at the Campus Forum
in September. I am pleased to report progress in each of these areas and
to describe initiatives we’re undertaking to build on these efforts in
the year ahead. Because there is much to report, this communication is
lengthy; I hope you’ll take the time to read it through to the end.
Elevate student success: Many students, staff and faculty have
been working on our highest priority: exploring and implementing ways to
help our students succeed.
- The summer 2016 working groups — on
Undergraduate Academic Advising, K-12 Pipeline, Community College
Pathways, and Strategic Use of Scholarships and Financial Aid — produced
a host of recommendations
for improvements. Four action teams
and many units across campus are hard at work to bring these
recommendations to fruition.
- We’ve engaged the services of EAB
(Educational Advisory Board), a higher education consulting firm
that has worked with hundreds of colleges and universities
nationwide, to refine our focus and strategies related to student
retention and graduation. EAB has completed a diagnostic to identify
areas of improvement for CU Denver and will make comprehensive
recommendations for the best ways to tackle those areas to
accomplish transformational change. Stay tuned for more details
after the EAB team visits campus later this month.
and innovation in teaching, research and creative work: Maintaining the high quality of our
academic programs and scholarly activities is essential to our core
- To ensure this quality, we have been
working to identify and secure much-needed resources. (See “Achieve
long-term financial stability,” below.)
- Our Center for Faculty Development
has greatly increased the diversity of the programming it
offers and the number of faculty it serves. In fact,
faculty participation has more than doubled from the previous year,
with a marked increase in non-tenure-track faculty engagement.
- This fall saw the return of a series
of presentations on the achievements of the 2016 Nobel Prize winners
by six of our esteemed faculty. The attendees included a wide range
of campus and community members. We will be identifying
additional ways to showcase the expertise of our faculty and CU
Denver’s role as a knowledge and thought partner in the broader
- We have launched our campus master
planning effort, which will guide the future growth and
development of our physical environment. We invite your
feedback on the draft plan at two open houses next month: Feb.
13 and 14, from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in the Wartgow Visitor’s
Center (Student Commons Building, Room 1300).
- The CU Board of Regents is developing
strategic vision, and I am assembling a small cross-campus
task force of faculty, staff and students to provide input to that
vision and represent the distinctive role and contributions of CU
Denver. In addition, this task force will be reviewing an
update of our campus strategic plan and assisting in defining the
metrics that will measure our progress.
position as a vital community asset: During fall semester, we made great strides toward our goal
of being recognized as one of the city’s top assets.
- An inventory of our many civic and
community engagement initiatives is being completed, and in early
December, our role in the community was highlighted in a Denver Business
Journal cover story.
- We’ve announced that we’re evolving
our university brand to drive home the synergistic relationship
between CU Denver and the city—including reinvigorating the “CU in the City”
brand beloved by many of you. There will be a campus
celebration to unveil the messaging and imaging of “CU in the City”
on February 20 in Turnhalle (details to come). The external ad
campaign will be launched in February and will illustrate our
connection to the city. Keep an eye out for online video and TV
spots, an installation in DIA’s Concourse C train station, city pole
banners, street-level campus signage, downtown video boards and
public radio ads.
- This spring, I will be convening
representatives from our colleges and schools, the Experiential
Learning Center, Student Affairs, and other campus units to make
recommendations on how we can better coordinate and leverage our
community engagement efforts.
Create a more
cohesive, collaborative and inclusive CU Denver culture: Last year’s listening tour and the
administrative prioritization project underscored the collective desire
to break down organizational silos and increase collaboration and
communication within and between units across the campus. The
development and implementation of our five campus priorities are
providing numerous opportunities for broad-based engagement.
- Our students’ connection to campus
culture was celebrated in September at the groundbreaking
ceremony of the Student Wellness Center.
- We conducted our first campus-wide Sexual Misconduct
Survey to help us better grasp the scope of experiences
within our community. The Office of Equity is now analyzing the
results, with the goal of improving our prevention of and response
to these incidents, and will solicit your feedback on their
- In meetings and through multiple
communiques, we have reaffirmed our commitment to fostering an
environment of inclusiveness, understanding and mutual respect, as
well as our support for those students—including immigrants,
religious minorities and others—who may be subject to hate crimes or
harassment. We have identified resources to support students,
faculty and staff during these times of uncertainty, including a new
Tumultuous Times web page for faculty. We are working to
develop a page on the chancellor’s website that will lay out our
resources and policies for supporting undocumented students. We will
continue to work with our shared governance leaders to promote
forums and conversations about the issues that affect us. And
we will not waver from our resolve—and our responsibility—to advance
the ideals of our university and provide opportunity for all our
students to pursue their educational goals.
financial stability and sustainability: Over the last year, we’ve become
increasingly aware of our dependence on tuition as the primary source of
- Our efforts to enhance recruitment
and increase retention have dual benefit—importantly, for our
students, but also for the financial health of the university.
- In November, we began the work of
redesigning our budget model. As requested during the
listening tour, this effort will result in increased transparency of
our budget, while incentivizing outcomes that better align our
resource allocation with our mission and strategic priorities. We
have engaged Huron Consulting to assist us with this redesign. They
are working in collaboration with the cabinet, deans, financial
managers from each school and college, and faculty representatives
to articulate a set of principles, analyze data and conduct
financial modeling to create an actionable plan for implementation
during fiscal year 2017-18. We will be providing regular
updates on our progress throughout this semester.
- To further increase and diversify our
revenue, we have efforts underway to strengthen our summer academic
offerings, expand executive education, add to our online delivery,
increase courses being offered at CU South Denver, and launch a
As you can see,
we’ve accomplished a great deal in a relatively short time! With so
many initiatives underway, this shows no signs of abating. To enhance
communication, we will be hosting periodic open forums to provide updates
on our continued progress and give you an opportunity to ask questions
and share your thoughts. The first one is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9,
from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Lawrence Street Center 2nd floor Terrace Room.
Watch CU Denver Today for more details and future dates.
In closing, I’d like to thank you once again for the warm welcome during
my first year at CU Denver. It is my honor to be serving as your
chancellor. I hope you take pride in the direction we’re headed, the
outstanding work we’re doing together, and the promise we provide to our
students and the larger community. Here’s to a terrific year as we
continue our quest to become one of Denver’s indisputable, exceptional
assets as Colorado’s public urban research university. CU in the city!