Can you feel the pace picking up around here? Move-in Day, Convocation, the Block Party and the first day of classes are quickly approaching and I’m confident that every one of us is more prepared than ever. Bring it on, I say. If you’re like me, you’ve missed our students.
It’s hard to believe, but this month marks my fifth anniversary at CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. It’s also hard to believe all the amazing support that our students, our Division of Student Affairs colleagues and university leadership have given during that time to efforts meant to strengthen our sense of campus community.
Sports & Milo
When I first arrived on campus, CU Denver students told me they wanted club sports and we got that done. They told me they wanted a mascot and Milo was born.
I remember the first time I met the big cat, and you probably remember the first time you met him, too. The dude knows how to make an entrance. Watching Milo interact with the students and knowing how hard everyone had worked to make him a reality, I couldn’t help but smile. At that moment, I could sense that CU Denver had a new unifying identity. Besides, Milo was just so cute. As hard as I tried to resist the urge, I just had to give him a hug.
I often talk about achieving my goal of a 100 percent graduation rate. People sometimes snicker but I’m dead serious. Is it easy, no. Is it worth the effort, you bet it is. This is an effort we make on behalf of our students. The effort includes new systems developed to support them, the dynamic campus community we’re building and new locations like the Lynx Center, which was put in place in direct response to the students’ need to be connected and informed all in one convenient location.
Commitment to establish relationships
Not only is our pursuit of the graduation goal supported by how we identify student needs and provide solutions, it’s also supported by the ways we as a staff connect with each other and the campus community beyond. The eighth commitment on our list of the division’s Twelve Commitments states that we “establish relationships between all members of the CU Denver community.” I encourage you to read the perspective your colleagues have on this commitment in the “What’s New” section of this newsletter, but to me it says that building those university community relationships creates a stronger sense of purpose campus-wide.
When we come to work, we should all feel welcome. We should feel like we’re surrounded by people who not only want to support students, but who also want to support us. The true connection between student identity and campus community lies in the roles we all play in the division and the ways we work together. The relationships we build are at the center of it all.
When engaging students, regardless of your job description, becomes your highest priority, it becomes the priority of your colleagues. The mutual feeling of responsibility for students’ success is the mortar for a foundation of knowledge and unites our division and university around that goal of 100 percent graduation.
Let’s get started
And, now it’s time to get started. Put on your biggest smiles. Welcome our incoming and returning students. Volunteer at Convocation and Move-in Day. Mingle with parents at the Parent and Family Reception before Convocation and bring your family and friends to the free BBQ afterwards. And, if you're feeling brave, ride the mechanical bull at the Block Party!
Let’s build those relationships and attack this new academic year. You’ll be glad you did, and our students will be the ones who benefit.
Here we go!
Raul Cardenas, PhD, Vice Chancellor, CU Denver | Anschutz Division of Student Affairs