The calendar still says summer, but the quickened pace and increased level of activity on campus tell us fall is here—and with it, the optimism and anticipation that mark a new academic year. I am delighted to welcome you back (or welcome you for the first time) to CU Denver.
Our new student convocation took place last Friday. It was an energetic gathering of over 600 first-year and transfer students and their families. The tone was upbeat, and the messages they heard reinforced the hopefulness, opportunity, and responsibility that await them. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, called the event "a rite of passage." The significance of this transition was underscored as Grecia Portillo, our Student Government Association President, asked the audience to join her in reciting the CU Denver Honor Pledge.
As a member of the University of Colorado Denver community, I pledge to:
- Act with honesty and ethics in academia and in society by building mutual trust and responsibility as a foundation for a lifelong integrity;
- Advance learning, knowledge generation and the free exchange of views and ideas as the lifeblood of academic freedom and of democracy;
- Embrace diversity and practice inclusion, showing civility, respect and care toward ALL persons, standing up for the essential worth and dignity of every individual;
- Take responsibility for the consequences of my own actions and share responsibility for the well-being and safety of the community by also holding others similarly responsible.
- I will honor these commitments in every part of my life.
As we recited these promises in unison, one could not help but reflect on the role public education plays as a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. It is fitting that as we begin a new year, each of us recommits to the abiding values that define our CU Denver community. This is a place where we will stand up for the essential worth and dignity of every individual. We will condemn and oppose racism and bigotry. We will uphold free speech and the respectful exchange of ideas, and rise above intolerance and hatred. We will consistently strive to be a model of inclusion, and celebrate the diversity that makes ours a vibrant and thriving campus.
These precepts are woven into the fabric of our institution and we must be vigilant in preserving and advancing them. To that end, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Brenda J. Allen is creating a task force to develop and reinforce strategies and resources focused on being an even safer, more welcoming and inclusive campus. Please call 303-315-2123 if you have suggestions or would like to be involved.
I also want to take this opportunity to update you on progress made over the summer months. Work continued apace on our five strategic priorities: student success, scholarly preeminence, community impact, inclusive excellence and financial sustainability. Here are some highlights:
- Two new deans joined the campus. Nan Ellin started July 1 as the dean of the College of Architecture and Planning and Martin Dunn, new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, is spending about on week a month here before being here full-time in January 2018.
- After eight months of work, and with the involvement of three committees and dozens of other people, we are nearing completion of the CU Denver Master Facilities Plan. When it is finalized and adopted by the Board of Regents later this semester, we will have a 10-year physical development plan to accommodate our future programmatic needs.
- Work on the new budget model and process redesign continues. The New Budget Model Steering Committee will meet in October to recommend an implementation date for the new model, which could be as early as July 2018. Throughout the fall, the Steering Committee, Chancellor's Cabinet, and representatives of the Faculty Assembly and Budget Committee will be learning more about the organizational design, budget and strategic work of many of our central administrative units, as part of this process.
- The Student Success Partnership, launched in January, will roll out a new technology platform in October to better support student advising and help identify students who need academic support services. And the Student Success Steering Committee has been reviewing action team recommendations, some of which are already being implemented.
- Plans continue for the campaign to raise scholarship and student support funds, with a campaign launch coming later this semester.
- Construction of the Student Wellness Center is on schedule AND budget! Set to open this spring, it will serve as a “home away from home” for CU Denver students to exercise, engage in club sports, study and socialize.
- Plans are underway to expand our health professional education offerings, in conjunction with CU Anschutz. Sarah Thompson, former dean of the College of Nursing, will lead efforts in this regard here at this campus, as well as at CU Anschutz and CU South Denver.
- The Student Senate and Faculty Assembly both passed resolutions on culturally responsive teaching and our commitment to equity and inclusion. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Center for Faculty Development are collaborating to honor these important requests.
I hope you'll mark your calendar for several special events coming up in the near future, including the Block Party this Thursday, the Jann Haworth exhibit at the Emmanuel Gallery that runs August 24-November 11, and the September 20th State of the Campus address.
This is an exciting time in the life of our university, and I am deeply grateful to each of you for your contributions and extraordinary dedication to our students. Together, we are making remarkable progress toward our aim of being a top asset to the city of Denver and beyond. Here's to a great year!