Among the top priorities President Benson identified when he appointed me as chancellor in September were charting CU Denver’s strategic direction and maximizing the asset of CU South Denver. I am writing with updates in those two areas.
During my transition and since beginning permanently on January 4, I have been pleased to learn of many promising and positive activities that are underway on campus and in partnership with the community. It has become clear to me that aligning and integrating these activities under an overall strategic vision for CU Denver will be the key to their effectiveness, efficiency, value and success.
To achieve that, I am creating the position of chief strategy officer for CU Denver and have selected Nolbert Chavez to fill it. Nolbert is a former state legislator who served four terms in the Colorado House of Representatives; his district included northwest Denver, downtown, the Auraria Campus and Capitol Hill. For the past 13 years, he has been a principal in the Capitol Success Group, providing government affairs and strategic consulting services to corporate, governmental and nonprofit clients. His connections to CU Denver run deep, as he’s frequently served as a guest lecturer on campus and he’ll be receiving his MA in political science this spring. Nolbert’s skills, experience and connections will be invaluable as we work to develop, communicate, execute and sustain the strategic vision, initiatives and partnerships that will advance CU Denver. He will help assure that our efforts are focused, integrated, and positioned for success. He will be joining us February 1 and will work part-time through the legislative session, transitioning his clients in preparation for joining us full-time on May 15. That timing will enable him to be part of assimilating the input you provide in the Reach Out and Listen Tour, which will help inform the development of our shared strategic vision.
Regarding CU South Denver, as you’ll recall, that site was gifted to the university a little over a year ago and CU Denver was assigned lead responsibility for its operation on behalf of the CU System. During the last year, under the dedicated leadership of Lisa Douglas and with the hard work and support of the staff there, this new venture has gotten off to a solid start. All four campuses have academic programs in place and the attendance and community collaboration have increased steadily.
Lisa has announced her plans to retire March 1. She has worn multiple hats for CU Denver, including as vice chancellor of South Denver, CFO for the Denver campus, and associate vice chancellor for finance and administration for the consolidated CU Denver I Anschutz. In the short time I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa, I very much appreciated her understanding of the complexities of the university’s budget and finances, her knowledge of state government rules and requirements, and her attention to detail in analyzing and making recommendations on any number of issues. Lisa has made significant contributions to CU Denver and I hope you’ll join me in wishing her all the best in her retirement. We’ll be honoring Lisa before she leaves so stay tuned for details. In the meantime, I’ll be working with Terri Carrothers to assure a smooth transition in the Finance and Administration division.
For CU South Denver, the next step will require developing and strengthening partnerships within the growing and increasingly competitive business community in the southern metropolitan area. This will be necessary in order to sustain CU South Denver’s economic viability and position it for long-term success. I have concluded that to accomplish those goals, full-time leadership will be required.
I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Luella Chavez D’Angelo as the new vice chancellor for enterprise development, with leading the effort at CU South Denver as her primary responsibility. Luella served most recently as chief global communication officer for Western Union. She was based at their world headquarters, just minutes from our CU South Denver location, and has strong connections to the business community throughout the metropolitan area and especially in south Denver. Earlier in her career, she led the creation of the Western Union/First Data Foundation and served as its president for 11 years. Luella has significant experience in formulating, communicating and executing strategic initiatives and helping them grow in participation, impact and revenue. In addition, she brings experience from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, both relevant to this new position. Luella will also be joining us on February 1.
As a further demonstration of his support for CU Denver and his desire for us to move forward boldly and expediently, President Benson has made available the funding from the CU System for Luella and Nolbert’s positions. That will start this fiscal year and continue for the following three fiscal years, dependent on successful attainment of the goals and outcomes we identify.
Please join me in welcoming Luella and Nolbert to their new roles. (By the way, although they share the surname Chavez, they are not related.) I believe both of these leaders have the ability to help move CU Denver forward in important ways that will benefit the students and communities we serve.