Happy 2017! As we gear up for a new semester at CU Denver, I’m writing to provide you with a brief update.
A unique role: CU in the City
CU Denver has a singular role as Colorado’s only public urban research university. Here in the heart of a city that’s thriving, CU Denver is a valued knowledge partner and vital contributor to the civic, cultural and economic landscape. With a student body that increases in size and diversity each year, we are a reflection of the community we serve. Our urban setting and research expertise strategically position us to work closely with Denver businesses, government and nonprofit organizations to apply new ways of thinking to meet local challenges. A recent Denver Business Journal cover story highlights our integration into the fabric of the city. Since I began my role as chancellor last January, we’ve set the goal of reinforcing these connections and making them clearer for all to see. A new “CU in the City” ad campaign that drives home the value of a high-quality CU education right in the heart of Denver will launch next month. Keep an eye out for TV and online video spots, city pole banners, an installation at DIA and more.
Academic and research excellence a CU Denver hallmark
High-quality academics, research and creative activities are a CU Denver hallmark, vital to the generation of new knowledge as well as the learning experience. Two national rankings just last week illustrate the caliber of our academic success. U.S. News & World Report ranked our programs in criminal justice and education as among the best online graduate programs in the country. And School of Public Affairs Dean Paul Teske was ranked among the most influential educational policy academics in the annual “Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings,” a measure that “reflects both a scholar's larger body of work and their impact on the public discourse last year.” A new addition to the university’s exceptional leadership, Business School Dean Rohan Christie-David joined us in August. He is an award-winning researcher who has set the goal of leading the school to global prominence in key areas that leverage our location and our talent. Another topnotch researcher, assistant professor of electrical engineering Jaedo Park, recently received a $500,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his research on DC power systems -– the fourth College of Engineering and Applied Science professor to receive this award since 2012. Opportunities for students also abound. Through the University Honors and Leadership Program, for instance, exceptional undergraduates can pursue academic honors or leadership studies tracks—combining many of the benefits of a small liberal arts college along with the opportunities available at a major research university.
Arts partnership invigorates Performing Arts Center galleria
One campus/city collaboration is currently taking place right next door to campus. In partnership with Denver Arts & Venues, CU Denver opened Next Stage Collaborative gallery in the Denver Performing Arts Complex galleria, across from the Buell Theater. This is a flexible, modern gallery designed by students that highlights work from the Colleges of Architecture and Planning and Arts & Media. Students in the Design-Build program designed and renovated the space, converting what had been a vacant retail space into an innovative gallery, and our arts and media students are providing interactive artwork and learning the business side of gallery management by working as docents. The debut installation features digital art using the latest virtual reality and augmented reality technology. Stop by Next Stage Collaborative before a show at the Performing Arts Complex and explore inventive exhibits that merge art, science and digital design.
In addition to our exciting new partnerships, many of our well-established initiatives have been helping communities for decades. The Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD), for example, engages students in design and planning for over 2,000 community projects. We’ll be celebrating the program’s 50 year anniversary in April.
Alumni impact on the city
With three quarters of our nearly 90,000 alumni remaining in the Denver area, it’s no surprise that CU Denver alumni are influential in the city -- powering Denver’s economy through work in the business sector, meeting vital community needs as nonprofit leaders, and making the city better through the public sector. A number serve or have served as elected officials, including state legislators, city council members, current mayor Michael Hancock, and former mayor Guillermo Vidal, a member of CU Denver’s first graduating class, whose experience as a Cuban refugee is being chronicled in a forthcoming documentary.
New buildings transforming campus
Our growth trajectory is physically evident in the public face of campus, particularly along Speer Boulevard. This fall, we broke ground on the Student Wellness Center at the intersection of Speer and Auraria Parkway. Conceived and planned by students, the center joins the Student Commons building, opened in 2014, as the first buildings on the Auraria Campus dedicated solely to CU Denver students and their needs. The center will provide various wellness amenities, from fitness spaces to lounges to a swimming pool, to students and the CU Denver and surrounding communities. We’ve also been upgrading some of our existing facilities, including the Auraria Library and the North Classroom building.
This is an exciting and important time in the evolution of CU Denver. Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of our university. I look forward to continuing our good work throughout 2017 and to providing you regular updates on our progress,
as Colorado’s public urban research university, toward becoming one of Denver’s indisputable, exceptional assets.