New Year Updates: Strategic Planning Begins Today

Sent: Jan. 5, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

It is my pleasure to welcome you back to campus, whether virtually or in person. I hope you were able to get some rest over the break. 

After all the challenges our country and our university faced in 2020, the start of this new year feels promising. Health care workers have been receiving COVID-19 vaccines nationally, including here in Denver. We will continue to update you on role of the Auraria Campus in vaccine distribution as we learn more over the next weeks and months. In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that our program for free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for CU Denver employees, students, and their households has been extended to March 31. While there is great reason for hope in 2021, we’re still in the midst of a health crisis and it’s absolutely critical that we continue to adhere to protocols put in place to protect our safety. 

Join us next Thursday, Jan. 14, for a virtual faculty and staff town hall where updates on spring semester, vaccinations, campus strategic planning, and other topics will be discussed. Register for the event here. You can also submit questions in advance. 

I’m very pleased to say that despite the pandemic, our momentum continues and this spring semester will be a pivotal period for defining our future direction. Our Equity Task Force is in full swing, and 115 members of our community have volunteered to serve on supporting action teams to identify specific equity improvements in the areas of curriculum, work environment, accountability, transparency, and university policy. I’m excited about the real work that they’re doing to put our institution on a better course with respect to equity and inclusion. In addition, with considerable input from this community, we launched national searches last month for a CU Denver-focused provost and a senior vice chancellor for strategic enrollment and student success.

Launching Our Strategic Planning Effort

As I mentioned in my State of the Campus address in November,  you’ve told me that you are ready to build on our momentum and shape the future of CU Denver, this place we all love. This will require us to think strategically about our shared vision as well as what differentiates us from the rest of the pack. We’re starting that process now. 

Our inclusive campus-wide strategic planning effort will be led by a steering committee of people from across the institution, chaired by College of Engineering Dean Marty Dunn. It will occur in three phases, briefly described below and explained in more detail on the Strategic Planning website.

PHASE 1: Our Vision for 2030

January 2021

This phase will consist of campus dialogues and idea gathering to craft a vision and refine our values. We will use these conversations and input to identify the most important attributes of our identity and ambitions. This work will inform Phases 2 and 3.

PHASE 2: How We Strengthen & Differentiate 

January – April 2021

Eight working groups will address major cross-cutting themes and generate innovative ideas to amplify our impact and take the university to greater levels of success. These groups will engage our community for input and recommendations on their work.

PHASE 3: Synthesize & Deliver Our Strategic Plan

April – June 2021

Valuing the input of our campus, we will synthesize the big ideas from the working groups into a cohesive strategy that will guide CU Denver into the next decade. The resulting strategic plan will be presented to the Board of Regents in June 2021. 

Our strategic planning process will be successful and useful only if we engage and listen to a wide range of voices across our faculty, staff, student body, alumni, and other supporters. We invite you to participate in a variety of ways. 

  • Attend a  virtual community session to share your ideas for the CU Denver Vision for 2030 — through Friday, January 22
  • Provide input on our vision through our online survey — through Friday, January 22 
  • Get involved with the working groups — February through April 

The Strategic Planning website provides more details on the process, including links to express your interest in participating in the process. I hope you will do so.

I’m well aware that university strategic plans often read like something written by committee, as a box to be checked off for accrediting bodies. And then they sit on a shelf until the next re-accreditation visit. That is the exact opposite of what we intend to do. We will ensure that our strategic plan is meaningful and has a real impact on CU Denver’s trajectory. We’ll rely on it to tell the world who we are and where we’re headed in the long run, and to adjust our planning and resource allocations accordingly.

I look forward to beginning these important conversations with you.

My best,

Michelle Marks Signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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