With thanks to each of you, the 2016-17 academic year has been a very
successful one. We’ve made great headway toward our goal, as Colorado's public
urban research university, of becoming one of Denver’s indisputable,
exceptional assets. In January, I wrote
to you about our progress in each of our five
strategic priority areas. What’s remarkable is how our efforts
university-wide have evolved since then, from “one-off” projects to initiatives
integrated across a wide variety of university units. Talk about busting silos!
Take, for example, our progress on our highest priority: elevating student
success. The Student Success Partnership (SSP) launched in January to
coalesce our many ongoing student success improvement efforts under one
umbrella. The SSP builds on the recommendations of last summer’s working
groups and the 2016-17
action teams, with assistance from the Education Advisory Board (EAB)
consulting group. The SSP
steering committee, convened in mid-April, will develop the SSP’s goals and
implementation plan. The work includes a technology platform to use student
data for predictive analytics in order to provide appropriate interventions
when students are identified as needing focused support. The committee and
units involved in SSP, particularly Information Technology and the academic
advisors, will be working over the summer to enable faculty, advisors and others
to begin using the new SSP technology platform by the fall semester. The broad
participation in these efforts has been impressive; it’s heartening to see
people from across the campus sharing responsibility for improving student
Here are some other efforts to elevate student success currently underway:
- We’re working to increase the number of undergraduate
advisors to move us closer to nationally recommended advisor/student
ratios. This was a primary recommendation of the Academic Advising Working
Group, and is included in our proposed budget for next year, which the
regents will vote on in June.
- Next year’s proposed budget also includes an increase in
institutional financial aid for undergraduates.
- The 2016-17
action teams — on Undergraduate Academic Advising, K-12 Pipeline,
Community College Pathways, and Strategic Use of Scholarships and
Financial Aid — are wrapping up their work and will present their final
recommendations to senior leadership on May 22. The final report will be
posted on the CU
Denver Priorities website later this month.
- We are developing a strategy for better engagement and
clearer pathways with K-12 and community colleges, building on the work of
the Community College Pathways and K-12 Pipeline action teams.
- Many faculty and staff have continued to implement High-Impact
Practices (HIPs) into their pedagogy, courses and curriculum. A HIPs
mini-grant program this year resulted in at least 16 courses and six
degree programs being more HIP-intensive than they previously were.
Research shows that HIPs increase student motivation, learning,
retention and success, particularly among underrepresented students.
- The pilot Summer Bridge Program funds incoming freshmen to
take summer introductory classes in math and English to prepare them for
attending CU Denver in the fall and give them a head start on their degree
We’ve been working to increase institutional and external support
for our second priority: Advance excellence and innovation in teaching,
research and creative work.
- Because enrollment of top-notch graduate students is key to
scholarly preeminence, we’ve included graduate student stipends in our proposed
budget. In addition, a pilot project to provide graduate student
scholarships has been launched at the recommendation of the Strategic Use
of Scholarships and Financial Aid Action Team.
- To highlight the value and benefits of CU Denver research and
creative activities, communicators across the campus are working together
to increase visibility of these activities through internal
communications, media outreach and social media.
- To accommodate increasing demand for online education
options, we’re hiring a new assistant vice chancellor for digital
education, who will work with academic units and CU Online to implement
and expand high-quality digital education programs.
- Along the same lines, the School of Education & Human
Development and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are working
together to develop Thinq
Studio, a one-year faculty professional development project on quality
digital pedagogy and open education for the 2017-18 academic year. The
Center for Faculty Professional Development, CU Online and others are also
- A campus-wide
cross section of CU Denver faculty, staff and students provided
thoughtful input this
semester to the regents’ CU
System-wide strategic visioning process, articulating the distinctive
roles and contributions of CU Denver. These discussions tied into our own
strategic plan, currently being refreshed to include measurable,
quantitative milestones in each of our five priority areas.
We continue to work on our third priority: Strengthen our
position as a vital community asset.
- The new “CU in the City” campaign, launched
Feb. 20, sums up our symbiotic relationship with Denver and our role
as a community asset. This is the first time – at least in many years –
that the CU Denver communication strategy directly aligns with its
strategic goal. All of the 40 people featured in the campaign, including
those in this new
TV spot, are CU Denver students, alumni or faculty members. Many
others have signed on to be CU in the City brand
- Our commitment to serving the community was highlighted at
the terrific April
6 celebration of 50 years of the College of Architecture and
Planning’s community involvement.
- As a co-sponsor of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan
conference in Denver next fall, CU Denver is preparing a series of
panels on the role of higher education in a thriving metropolitan area.
We’ll also address this topic with Denver leaders at the Downtown Denver
Exploration Trip to Portland, Oregon later this month.
- We are in the early stages of developing a partnership with
the City to create a center focused on our urban-related research and
I believe we’ve moved the needle significantly on our fourth
priority: Create a more collaborative, cohesive and inclusive CU Denver
culture. People are working together across disciplines and departments in
- Nothing is more indicative of this than the broad and
enthusiastic participation in the action teams and committees on the
Student Success Partnership, strategic visioning, summer enrollment, and
scholarships, among others.
- Our community has rallied to support groups that may be under
threat, including our international
students, faculty and staff.
- We are using results from the sexual
misconduct survey to inform and improve the university’s ongoing
prevention, education and response efforts related to all forms of sexual
- Construction continues apace on the new Student
Wellness Center, still on schedule to open in Spring 2018.
- The CU
Denver Master Plan is nearing completion. Thanks to the many in our
community who took the time to give input on the plan, including at the
final campus open house on April 24. The plan will be presented to the
Auraria Board of Directors on May 24, and to the Board of Regents Capital
Subcommittee on Aug. 16. Once approved by the regents, the plan will be
used to guide the future growth and development of our physical environment.
- The Campus
Conversations have provided an opportunity for members of my leadership
team to update and chat with the campus community on a variety of issues.
I’ve enjoyed the give-and-take nature of these and look forward to hosting
more in the coming months.
Finally, we’re working hard on our priority to achieve
long-term financial stability and sustainability.
This is a lengthy email,
and I appreciate your reading through to the end. I’m grateful to and humbled
by our remarkable community for doing so much to ensure the ongoing success of
our students and this institution, including going above and beyond your
regular workload to assist with the changes that are underway. I am confident
our collective efforts are laying a solid foundation to propel CU Denver toward
our shared goals. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, when we’re all moving forward
together, success takes care of itself. Have a great summer!
- Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jennifer
Sobanet, Provost Nairn, deans and business officers and many others have
worked since November to redesign the CU Denver budget model to one that
(a) increases transparency so that everyone understands how the budget
works and what their role is in ensuring CU Denver’s financial
sustainability, and (b) incents growth, including student success and
retention, enabling us to keep the quality of a CU Denver education high
and tuition low. In Phase 2 of their process, which will begin mid-May,
senior leadership and the deans will develop a planning and budgeting
process that aligns with the newly redesigned model. The third and final
phase (beginning July 2018) will be the implementation of the new model.
- In response to my request to increase summer session
enrollments, people came together across several areas in the Summer
Enrollment Action Team to quickly implement a number of efforts. These
include a website
redesign, a mini-marketing campaign to current CU Denver and non-CU Denver
college students and the Advance
Grant Program, which encourages on-time graduation for undergraduate
students by providing financial assistance in the summer term for students
to transition from freshman to sophomore or from sophomore to junior
status. The team’s work has been paying dividends: already, summer
enrollment numbers are up 8 percent over last year at this time.
- The Advancement office is developing a fundraising campaign
for student scholarships. The Scholarship
Campaign Steering Committee, with representation from every
school and college and from faculty, staff and students, convened on April
27. You’ll soon hear more about campaign goals, timelines and scholarship