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CU Denver Strategic Priority 1:

Student Success

Strategic Priorities - Student Success

Elevate student success through increased enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

Lead: Linda Bowman, PhD, Interim Vice Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Success

CU Denver is focused on an unparalleled student experience, utilizing talent and technology to assure that we exceed expectations in education and support.


  • Freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 75% by 2020
  • Six-year graduation rate of 60% by 2020
  • Three-year graduation rate of 75% for transfer students
  • Tuition and fees rate growth at or below inflation
  • Increased institutional financial aid

To achieve these goals requires an unrelenting focus on students and their needs—plus, and perhaps even more critically — genuine concern for student outcomes supported by new approaches.

CU Denver staff and faculty are redesigning our systems to increase student success: realigning functional areas, increasing access to services by adopting new technologies, utilizing data and predictive analytics to design a coordinated care network of personalized experiences for individuals, and creating a "concierge model," so students can focus on their learning while we navigate our systems for them.



  • Enrolled our largest, most diverse incoming undergraduate class
  • Opened the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center
  • Embarked upon reimagining services, strategies, and structures to create the 'unparalleled student experience'
  • Began planning the first-year student housing and dining facility
  • Outpaced our Colorado peers in closing the attainment gap for underrepresented minority students
  • Created LynxConnect, an integrated resource center for career services and experiential learning, internships, undergraduate research, and study abroad/global education
  • Laid the foundation for a comprehensive strategic plan for mental health
  • Initiated redesign of website and mobile services
  • Initiated planning for the Mental Health Strategic Plan
  • Focused on more seamless experiences for students who transfer to CU Denver
  • Created the Center for Undergraduate Exploration and Advising (CUE & A), where Success Advisors focus on students who have not yet chosen a major area of student
  • Implemented new policies to increase student success

 Student Success and Development Initiatives


 Student Access and Achievement focus areas

  • Recruitment and Enrollment
  • Registrar
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • K-12 Outreach 
  • Pre-collegiate Programs and Partnerships
  • First-year Experience
  • Student Success Initiatives 
  • Instructional Quality
  • Academic Success and Advising Center
  • Transfer Initiatives
  • Learning Resource Center
  • Career Services
  • Experiential Learning Center
  • Lynx Center
  • TRIO
  • University Honors and Leadership program (UHL)
  • International Affairs
  • Admissions 
  • Auraria Library

 Delivering an unparalleled student experience

To create and deliver an unparalleled student experience, the Student Access and Achievement team is focused on:

  • Redesigning the student experience, providing greater support and coordination for students as they navigate important but sometimes confusing systems.

  • Blending specialized technology with the best-of-human interaction, using predictive analytics to analyze student needs and to provide personalized outreach and proactive, strategic care.

  • Strengthening pathways to graduation, refining degree maps to make it easier for students to clearly see what courses they need and when.

  • Working on creating even closer collaboration among all the advising units to provide a more consistent experience for students.

  • Further developing early student engagement to include comprehensive onboarding involving advising, career services, first year experiences and financial aid.  

  • Focusing on undecided students, helping them explore their interests around clusters of careers or meta-majors.

  • Looking at the spaces in the Student Commons that would achieve a more approachable layout for students to access services.


  Student Development

The Student Development team is focused on two key initiatives:

  • Planning for a first-year housing and dining facility located in the heart of the CU Denver neighborhood, a top priority of CU Denver’s Facilities Master Plan.
  • Developing a strategic plan for mental wellness incorporating best practices that emphasize prevention, support a sense of belonging, and enhance a culture of wellness.


 Student Success Partnership (SSP)

  • The Student Success Partnership (SSP) launched in January 2017 to identify and remove barriers to student retention and success. 
    • Navigate (formally known as the Student Success Collaborative Campus) launched in October 2017 to promote proactive outreach and consistent communication with our students.  
    • Navigate brings together advisors, faculty, support staff and students to create a coordinated care network that enables targeted outreach opportunities and proactive strategic support for students.
    • As of December 2018, the Navigate has been used by more than 60 staff/advisors and other staff members to schedule over 27,000 appointments with over 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Student Success Teams, formed in summer 2017, are continuing to address barriers in student retention and success. Accomplishments in 2018 include:
    • The Academic Advising Excellence team created a standardized drop/add process across all the schools/colleges.
    • The Guided Pathways Team, in consultation with each school/college, established degree maps for all majors to be available for students in Spring 2019.
    • Advisors and Deans of each school and college identified critical courses for all large majors on campus. These courses are defined as critical to one’s ability to advance in that specific major. If a student fails or has not enrolled in these courses, advisors are alerted and able to help the student strategize on how to complete the course successfully or consider other majors
    • The Enrollment Strategy Team and the Communications Group compiled a master calendar of all key milestones for first-year students and is developing a plan to streamline communications to students.
    • The Financial Aid Optimization Team developed interventions to reduce the impact of two primary barriers facing students:
      • ​Residency determination process
      • ​Satisfactory Academic Progress communications
  • The Student Success Partnership built on the recommendations of cross-campus teams working on various aspects of student success since 2016.
  • Findings of the summer 2016 Working Groups (September 2016)
  • Recommendations of the 2016-17 Action Teams​ (May 2017) 

 Efforts to improve student advising

  • Degree maps were created for all majors in 2017-18, adding clarity for students in how to achieve their academic goals. Transfer degree maps are being developed. All degree maps will be used in the student facing scheduler called UAchieve in Spring 2019. 
  • To make the path to academic success easier for our students, the drop/add process was standardized across all CU Denver schools and colleges in the 2017-18 academic year.
  • An Executive Director of Academic Advising role was created to help build and facilitate common academic advising practices, ensuring a seamless advising experience for students. 

 Efforts to improve students’ academic experience

  • In 2016-17, over $120,000 in grants—supported by the Office of Undergraduate Experiences, the Office of the Provost, the Center for Faculty Development, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and various deans—trained faculty to implement High-Impact Practices (HIP)​ in the classroom. Due to the involvement of 70 faculty, staff, and students, 16 courses and 6 degree programs are more HIP-intensive than they had been.
  • Curricular innovations, like co-requisite math courses and undergraduate learning assistants, have offered CU Denver students dynamic instruction and academic support, leading to increased pass rates.
  • First-Year Experience (FYE) program has continued to grow, with over 70% of the 2018-2019 first-year cohort currently enrolled in an FYE course. 

 Efforts to improve financial support for students

  • To provide as many students as possible with an affordable, high-quality education regardless of income level, $500,000 in increased institutional financial aid for undergraduates was included in the 2017-18 budget.
  • To help reduce the financial burden for CU Denver students, the Lynx Up scholarship campaign​ launched in February 2017.
  • Summer enrollment grants were distributed to 79 students in a 2017 pilot program and to 270 students in 2018.
  • New Lynx Grant will increase aid and allow for awarding to more than 1,000 additional undergrad students not eligible for Pell grant but with considerable need based on cost of attendance.
  • Awarded $200,000 in Completion Grants in Fall 2018​.


 Expanded K-12 Outreach efforts

  • The K-12 Outreach department has expanded its efforts since Fall 2016 through increased K-12 student visits to campus, community partnerships that connect youth to CU Denver, collaborations with other campus units on events and outreach, and increased K-12 school-based outreach, among other initiatives. The department has developed new partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Galvanize, Career Connect, Junior Achievement, Project Voyce and Codespire.
  • The number of high school students taking class on the CU Denver campus through the high school concurrent enrollment program, managed by K-12 Outreach, doubled from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017.
  • A summer 2017 pilot program funded incoming freshmen to take introductory composition and mathematics courses to give them a head start on their degrees.
  • Through Lynx Ambassadors, a pilot program launched in fall 2017, CU Denver students return to their local high school and spend 3-5 hours per week building relationships with students, answering questions and assisting with the CU Denver application process. 


 Expanded transfer student outreach efforts

  • The transfer team has expanded its presence on area community college campuses. Beginning in 2016, all CU Denver admissions counselors are partnered with one of five area community colleges, where they hold monthly, on-campus appointments with students.
  • To develop streamlined processes and strategic oversight of transfer student outreach, an Executive Director of Transfer Initiatives position was created in summer 2018. This position will be finalizing transfer articulations, leading on transfer degree maps and support transfer students through their CU Denver journey. 
  • To make the transfer process more seamless, CU Denver’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions & K-12 Outreach hosts an annual workshop for local community college advisors. This meeting helps CU Denver admissions counselors and community college advisors to align pre-requisites and maximize transfer credits


 Planning for a first-year housing and dining facility

Planning for a first-year housing and dining facility located in the heart of the CU Denver neighborhood: 
  • Three focus groups have been conducted, more are scheduled for spring 2019. Site visits for housing inspiration were completed. 
  • CU Denver representatives visited the University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, Seattle University, Boise State, Tarleton State, Texas Women’s University, University of Texas Austin, Kean University, UMass Boston, Rowan, and University of Maryland College Park
  • 4 Requests For Proposals (RFP) have been evaluated and 9 Requests for Quotation’s (RFQ) have been reviewed.

 Developing a strategic plan for mental wellness

Developing a strategic plan for mental wellness incorporating essential practices that emphasize prevention, support a sense of belonging, and enhance a culture of wellness.
  • The Mental Health Strategic Plan foundation building process began Fall 2018
  • The Mental Health Strategic planning committee will commence spring 2019
  • The national Garret Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant was awarded to the Student and Community Counseling Center and their collaborative partner, the Office of Case Management
  • CU Denver becomes a JED Campus 2018
  • CU Denver administers the NCHA student health survey
  • CU Denver Lola and Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center opens, fall 2018

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