Happy New Year and welcome to the spring semester! I’ve always liked the origin of the name January: Janus. As the Roman god of gates and doorways, Janus is often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. In that spirit, I want to use this opportunity to reflect a bit on 2017 and look forward to 2018.
Our December commencement ceremony brought an uplifting end to the fall semester and a happy conclusion to the academic pursuits of some 1,200 students. Commencement is one of my favorite days of the year. As I present the diplomas and shake the hands of our graduates, I’m mindful of what this accomplishment represents for them, their families, and our society -- and the important work each of you does in helping them attain this milestone.
December also brought another gift: the $10 million donation from Lola and Rob Salazar to the Student Wellness Center. In addition to being a public and concrete expression of belief in the potential of our students and the transformational power of a CU Denver education, the gift establishes our first named building and thus marks an important inflection point in the evolution of campus.
On the two-year anniversary of my becoming chancellor, I am reminded of the privilege it is for me to be a part of the tapestry of student, faculty and staff effort embodied here, and to help weave its many diverse strands into a larger whole. I am grateful to you all, faculty and staff, for rallying around our distinctive role and shared vision, and for your embrace of our five strategic priorities: student success, scholarly excellence, community impact, inclusive culture, financial sustainability.
Thanks to the collective work of many, the progress we are making is impressive and substantial. We’ve updated our priorities website and I invite you to read about key initiatives and accomplishments in each priority area. Here are some highlights:
- Deans, cabinet members and faculty leaders, with the support of our finance and budget teams, have been working together on our new integrated budget and planning process, preparing to implement the new budget model July 1. The incentive-based model helps us focus on three things: growing revenue, containing costs and reallocating resources to our highest priorities.
- After a successful “Go Live” in October, the Student Success Collaborative-Campus platform (SSC-Campus) has increased access to advising and established cohort tracking systems. In addition, four teams are implementing various student success initiatives focused on the campus goals related to improved persistence, retention and graduation rates.
- A cross-campus committee is finalizing plans to launch our new scholarship fundraising campaign in February. We are hopeful that this effort will enable even more students to pursue their dreams at CU Denver, with more time to focus on their studies and less anxiety about how to afford it.
- To underscore the value CU Denver places on equity, inclusion and respect for all, the campus community collaborated on a number of efforts last fall including the “You Are Welcome Here” video and CU at the Table program.
- We’re delighted to welcome our new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science: Martin Dunn, who brings a wealth of international experience to the position. I also want to extend our appreciation to Stephen Gedney, who served as interim dean and, among many other accomplishments, worked with CEAS faculty and staff to assure a successful accreditation process.
- The CU in the City campaign starts its second year in the Denver market this month and runs through June. The campaign, which highlights the excellence and impact of a CU Denver degree, includes a new TV ad featuring our own students and faculty, as well as vocals by Lark, the College of Arts & Media’s award-winning acapella group. Keep an eye (and ear) out for the TV ad during the Winter Olympics, and also for digital billboards downtown, mentions on Colorado Public Radio, and online and social media ads.
- Planning is moving forward for the operations and physical space for CU Denver’s CityCenter. This new community outreach center, under the leadership of Nolbert Chavez, will serve as a resource hub for our urban research and engagement initiatives, connecting the broader community with the university through partnerships and projects.
- As Chancellor Elliman and I announced in October, an administrative operations review of CU Denver | Anschutz is underway with assistance from the Huron Consulting Group. The goal of the project is to align our structure and operations to best meet each campus’s unique needs and to do so in the most efficient and effective manner. The work is on track and recommendations are expected in March.
It’s clear we have strong momentum and much to anticipate. Thank you for the outstanding work you have done -- and continue to do -- to help CU Denver deliver on our promise as Colorado’s public urban research university.
As I said in last September’s State of the Campus address, ours is a precious opportunity and a profound obligation. Our students, with their richness of diversity in every aspect, represent the future. Helping to unleash their potential and accomplish their dreams while advancing knowledge that improves our world is truly work worth doing. I am indeed honored to be doing that work alongside each of you.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy and peace-filled 2018!