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State of the Campus Fall 2013

For the second year in a row, I have the pleasure of opening my State of the Campus address with some fantastic news.

Last year at this time, David Wineland had just won the Nobel Prize. This year we celebrate again.

We are still feeling the great excitement and immense pride in our eighth MacArthur Fellow, Ana Maria Rey. Dr. Rey is an assistant professor in the physics department and a fellow of JILA, which is, as many of you know, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Her award demonstrates once again that our students have unique access to teachers and researchers who are transforming science, innovation, technology, and the arts on a daily basis.

For CU-Boulder, the term "world-class" faculty is not a cliché, but a reality that we display regularly.

Dr. Rey, will you please stand so that we may recognize you?

Congratulations to Professor Ana Maria Rey.

Flood demonstrates CU-Boulder unity

In my State of the Campus last year I called for the university community to come together to reach our biggest goals and solve our most pressing challenges, which you have done many times over.

In the last month, we have demonstrated our unity in many ways, with our response to a 100-year flood that devastated our community.

The community at large suffered greatly, with a record number of homes damaged or lost, and tragically, loss of life.

At the University, we were fortunate there were no serious injuries. While 102 buildings had some damage, we were able to safely reopen the campus after closing for two business days, thanks to the efforts of the entire campus community. Your hard work and devotion resulted in the smallest interruption possible to students pursuing their degrees.

While the campus got through the flood largely unharmed, we know that many in our university community continue to struggle individually with the flood's devastation.

Off campus, there were many students, faculty and staff who were personally impacted—who lost property including homes and personal possessions.

Yet many continue to carry out their duties and studies while their personal losses remain heavy on their minds and in their hearts.

As a campus community, we have not forgotten them. We have turned our compassion into action. A disaster recovery fund was quickly established for students, faculty and staff in need. We have had over 1,200 donors to that fund, many of whom are here in this room. We established a flood information web page as a resource.

We postponed the football game to allow our community time to cope with the disaster, and student athletes and athletic department staff served lunch to campus evacuees and emergency responders. As Coach MacIntyre said so aptly: "There are more important things than football."

The CU Student Government helped to staff our resource tables, set up giving-match challenges and contributed $40,000 to a fund to support students who were impacted. I would like to recognize CUSG tri-executives Christopher Schaefbauer, Ellie Roberts, and Marco Dorado, for their leadership.

All our students and their student leaders quickly moved into action—expanding into the community to help. You can't help but be inspired by their passion and community concern in such a time of need. I would like to take a minute to show you a video that demonstrates what our students have been doing. Video: CU-Boulder students help with cleanup after the 2013 floods.

Our preparation and training paid off for a day we hoped we would never see. But the most important aspect of our response was the unity we showed in a very challenging and difficult time. It's heartwarming to see people come together in a time of crisis, and we were certainly witness to that this month at the University of Colorado Boulder. It will go down in our history as a defining moment for our campus.

Across the campus—from student government to administration offices, faculty to the registrar, communications to housing and dining—you all came together to help us through this crisis. Our staff was downright amazing, and I want to thank all of you for your dedication to the university.

Transformative initiatives

That same collaboration and unity in responding to the flood is the lynchpin to our future success in other areas as well.

Last year, I talked about the need for campus partnerships to create innovations in how we effectively deliver higher education in a dynamically changing market. I am happy to report we have had several great successes in this area, and this is the beginning of an exciting, transformative time for the campus.

Six years ago, we started down this path of transformation with Flagship 2030. Over the last year, we have greatly stepped up the pace with a number of new initiatives that are altering the landscape of the university. And we are only getting started.

We are proactively responding to changes from many sectors— technology, public scrutiny, workforce needs, and cost challenges for students and families, as well as continued funding challenges.

In the long run, despite temporary ups and downs in funding, we know that the state is on track to defund public higher education, perhaps within a decade. Federal funding cutbacks have impacted everything from financial aid to federally sponsored research, and the stalemate in Washington doesn't hold much promise of a new consensus for increased federal support.

But even amid these challenges, we remain undaunted. We have taken our own actions and are responding to public demands to find innovative ways to bend the cost curve for students while delivering a high-quality education. These demands come from the White House, the state, our regents, the tax-paying public and most importantly, our students.

We are a step ahead of our national peers in responding to these financial pressures because here in Colorado, we have been facing many of these challenges for years. Here are a few facts you may have heard, but I will remind you:

  • State funding has declined $29 million (33.5%) from 2009 to 2013 for CU Boulder.
  • State support has dropped from 15 percent of our budget in 2002 to under 5 percent today, the lowest level of support of any state flagship in the nation.
  • And finally, Colorado lives in the nation's basement when it comes to state-funded support for higher education—between 48th and 50th depending on what indices you use.

The old model of increased tuition to cover reduced state funding is reaching its breaking point. The times demand that we find other ways to meet, or even reduce our expenses, and creatively grow revenues through strategic partnerships with the private sector.

We are poised to meet these times because we have a well-documented tradition of innovation at CU-Boulder.

Last year, I called upon all of you to think differently about how you do work and how we might change our work processes to more effectively serve our students and support our faculty and staff.

To show that we are serious about re-engineering all aspects of what we do, this year we established the Office of Performance Improvement, headed by CU-Boulder engineering professor Jeff Luftig.

The goal of this office is to help any department or work unit on campus review its way of delivering its product or service to substantially improve quality by utilizing the resources it has today in better ways. Jeff has clients ranging from Athletics to Student Affairs and Human Resources, to the Office of Information Technology and the Law School. We expect transformational results as we work to innovate in these areas as a team.

We also talked about what a competitive environment it has become to attract the best and brightest students. To meet this challenge, we established our new Esteemed Scholars program as a way to ensure that the best students in Colorado stay in Colorado, and stake their futures on the value of a CU-Boulder degree. The program is working.

This year, about 25 percent of our resident freshman class—780 students—are Esteemed Scholars.

This Scholars program enables us to compete with out-of state colleges that are working hard to attract Colorado's best students. While this is a university-funded pilot in its debut year, we want to continue it with the help of donors. We believe it was key to helping us attract one of our largest and also our most diverse freshman class of 5,846 students.

We discussed the need to ensure our students have the optimum opportunity for internships and jobs. At our career fair two weeks ago, we saw unprecedented employer interest in CU-Boulder students and new gains in internship opportunities. Interest in CU-Boulder students and alumni continued to grow even during the recession.

This is a credit to our academic reputation, the success of our graduates in the market, and dedicated outreach to employers by Career Services.

We posted 8,107 jobs last year—double the number from the year before the recession. And we are up by a third over last year at this same time in full-time job postings with 4,546, and internship postings with 2,467.

I also addressed with you last year an area of vital importance to our community, which is compliance. Compliance with research regulations and with Title IX is imperative to the safety and success of our campus.

During this past year, many of you have been working hard to ensure that protocols are in place to effectively process, report and comply with research regulations so that we can be as competitive as possible.

Regarding issues related to Title IX compliance, I have heard the concerns of individuals and I have ordered an independent review of our procedures to ensure we are doing everything possible to comply and to be a national model to follow.

More innovation also occurred in the Arts as we found that we could reinvent a long-time program, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. After many years of running at a deficit, The College of Arts and Sciences and Producing Artistic Director Tim Orr collaborated with the College of Music and CU Presents to reconfigure the festival. They created a new website, integrated it with student coursework and internships, and developed a group of productions that yielded a whole new level of attendance and patron engagement. This year, the festival has a positive bottom line.

Across campus, we brought new leadership to Athletics with Athletic Director Rick George. Rick brings a strong grounding in our best traditions from his time with CU football in the late ‘80s, along with strong leadership experience at two other major college football programs, with the PGA Tour, and with the Texas Rangers in Major League Baseball. He brings new vision, energy and excitement to our athletic department.

Rick is setting a bold course toward tight financial management while expanding our student-athlete academic and athletic facilities, strengthening our fan base, and forging new partnerships with donors and corporate partners.

Rick also is working to make CU a competitive force in the Pac-12 Conference. As of today, our fall athletic teams this year are 24-11 overall.

In the classroom, our student-athletes are setting school records with the highest cumulative GPA we have seen to date.

Seeking the same level of boldness and vision for our academic mission, we launched the Chancellor's Strategic Advisory Council to help us determine how we can make innovations in how we serve students, identify new sources of funding, and find ways to build our reputation in Colorado and around the world. We have had two excellent meetings with these innovative leaders, and there have been some exciting ideas brought forward.

These three areas—increasing the value proposition for our students, finding new sources of revenue to support the campus, and solidifying our reputation—are what I am going to focus on today as the three main challenges facing our campus this year and in the near future.

Innovations in how we serve our students

Let's start with the value proposition for our students.

We're already seeing the results of commitments we made nearly a decade ago to strengthen academic rigor in our colleges and schools, involve more undergraduate students in research activity, build communities of learning in our residence halls, and grow the number of job and internship opportunities for our students.

Today, a CU-Boulder degree is among the most highly rated for its return on investment among all public universities. The most recent ranking was in July by Forbes Magazine, which placed CU Boulder at number 24 in the nation among public institutions. Our value has ranked well regularly in similar surveys for the past several years.

But a challenge remains here: working to ensure that more of our students graduate successfully with a CU degree in as short a time as possible.

That is why today, I am announcing that the university is setting a new target for our six-year graduation rate, which is the standard metric in higher education. Currently, our six-year graduation rate sits at 68 percent. Today I am challenging our campus community to move that figure to 80 percent by 2020.

An 80 percent graduation rate is clearly an aggressive goal. There are many components.

The first is to ensure that we continue our successful growth of diverse students, so that they increase from 29 percent of our Colorado resident freshmen this year, to a level that matches the diversity among Colorado high school graduates of 31 percent.

Here you see a slide provided by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement. We are within striking distance ofmeeting that goal. You see the Colorado high school class represented with the blue line at 31 percent under-represented students. The black line shows CU-Boulder resident freshman at nearly 29 percent.

Further, the gold bars on the bottom of the chart show that the percentage of under-represented students in our entire freshman class has risen from 16 percent in 2007 to nearly 23 percent today.

However, diversity is not simply a numerical goal, it is the measure of a rich educational experience, giving students the opportunity to share different perspectives, opinions, backgrounds, and cultures in and out of the classroom. We are placing a high priority on increasing the enrollment and graduation rates of our diverse students.

It is imperative that, if we are to succeed as a top-notch university in the 21st century, we deliver on the promise of a valuable and timely degree to all of our students.

There are several other key components to achieving this.

First, the development of a highly effective advising system. We talked about this goal last year, and this year, we began the process of transforming our academic advising services. This effort is based on a comprehensive, 12-month review of national academic advising best practices.

We will begin a pilot in the spring with peer advisors from various disciplines residing in one central location, with hours convenient for students, to provide drop-in advising.

Second, Provost Russell Moore and Arts & Sciences Dean Steven Leigh are working on eliminating curriculum redundancies, increasing credit-hour production, and revisiting our core curriculum to ensure better learning outcomes while simplifying the Arts and Sciences core.

Third, to increase freshman retention, the Boulder Faculty Assembly, led by Engineering Professor Paul Chinowsky, recently recruited 120 faculty volunteers to serve as mentors to more than 1,000 incoming freshman for the purpose of providing guidance to students in one of the most critical times of their undergraduate careers.

Next, the Office of Academic Affairs is moving forward on the development of two new interdisciplinary colleges—the College of Media, Communication and Information; and the School of Environment and Sustainability. By creating interdisciplinary colleges and schools that offer dynamic curricula in emerging fields of study, we can help students focus their work and efforts toward graduation.

Next, we have introduced specific programs to enhance the educational experience of our students, such as a new business minor. This was in such high demand among our students that the classes filled up within two days with 150 students from different majors around campus.

We also initiated a new computer science degree in Arts and Sciences and a new general education degree in engineering, again responding to student demand and interest while providing pathways to academic success. And finally, we are committed to examining how we deliver education, using all of our tools: traditional, online, cross-disciplinary collaboration, as well as outreach and partnership.

This fall, we have made our initial class offerings of MOOCS—Massive Open Online Courses.

They include:

  • Introduction to Physics
  • Linear Programming
  • Power Electronics
  • and Graphic Novels and Comics.

New sources of funding required

A high-quality education and timely completion of degree is a promise we must —and will—keep to our students. But our future is also dependent on finding new sources of revenue.

In order to manage reduction in state and federal funding while simultaneously bending the cost curve for students and families, we need to build substantial, ongoing revenue streams for the future and provide the highest quality experience to all of our students.

In conjunction with my advisory council, we have had a number of faculty and staff leaders brainstorming on this key component to our future. We are looking at a number of options, which include continuing to build our international student base—now 1,818 students. This represents an opportunity for not only revenue, but more importantly, for advancing the educational experience of all students and the global stature of CU-Boulder.

Other initiatives include:

*Further developing our summer session to provide creative opportunities for our faculty and visiting faculty to present new classes, and for current students to make substantial progress on obtaining their degrees.

A working group led by Dean Anne Heinz has been tasked with developing a plan to create a unique set of summer programs for which CU-Boulder can become recognized. They are working on a pilot to be rolled out within the next year.

*Today, each department or college separately approaches companies for sponsorships or advertising. We will be developing a coordinated effort to organize these sponsorship and advertising agreements into a common, campus-wide approach. This will prevent us from leaving dollars on the table and avoid requiring that our partners deal with multiple processes as they work with different areas of the campus.

*In collaboration with our faculty, we will intensify our efforts to identify new research opportunities emerging from the federal government—call it an early alert system—to maximize our ability to respond quickly, and leverage our productive faculty to get a key share of those dollars.

Last year, I told you that we want to take our industry-sponsored research agreements from $20 million per year to $100 million a year. As a first step, we have implemented the new Office of Industry Collaboration, headed by Caroline Himes, to maximize the ease with which industry can engage with the university and our opportunities for sponsored research. Over the coming year, we will put a full engagement strategy in place to deliver new research partnerships to the campus.

*And finally, a key element in building a new revenue model for the future is a new fund-raising initiative. This includes an annual fundraising goal of $100 million, and doubling our endowment.

Six fundraising priorities now and for the future

With that in mind, I have established six top fundraising priorities this year.

* We were recently designated a national demonstration site by the Association of American Universities for improving undergraduate STEM education. I have identified STEM education as one of my top opportunities to differentiate CU-Boulder.

* Our next priority is creating ongoing funding for our Esteemed Scholars program, which I mentioned earlier, with a goal to build an endowment of $10 million—an investment in keeping Colorado's best students right here at CU-Boulder, and keeping CU a top public university in the nation.

* In biotechnology, the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotech Building, which opened in spring 2012, remains a fundraising priority. At CU-Boulder researchers collaborate within and beyond the campus in pursuit of solutions to the long-term health and wellness challenges of the human world. Their efforts have led to life-changing discoveries in cancer treatment, vaccine delivery, cartilage regeneration and chronic pain treatment, among many others.

* This year, we are beginning construction of the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex —also known as SEEC—with a $15 million fund-raising goal. It will bring together cross-disciplinary researchers in environment, energy, and sustainability with federal lab partners like NOAA and NREL. It will tackle the urgent issues of oil and gas production, water availability, sustainable energy and climate change—all areas vital to Colorado, the nation and the world. It also will provide labs and classrooms for the Environmental Studies program, our fastest growing major.

* In Athletics, we have a short-term goal to raise $50 million for facilities to enhance the experience of student-athletes and our fans and stakeholders. The first phase will encompass an academic center at Dal Ward, with an expansion of athletic offices and practice facilities. These are important investments to ensure a competitive future in the Pac-12 Conference while attracting new donors, fans and community partners.

* Aerospace is an area of growth for the state and the university, with our legacy of aerospace engineering and space sciences that predates NASA. Our earliest tech transfer occurred in the aerospace industry with Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation. We continue to be NASA's top-funded public university for sponsored research. This represents real growth in aerospace engineering for us, and we have a fund-raising goal of $35 million to build a new aerospace engineering facility.

One of our most visible partnerships with Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and NASA is about to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The next Mars explorer, MAVEN—the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission— is a $671 million contract –t he biggest in our history. I hope you all come to view a live broadcast of the launch right here in the Glenn Miller Ballroom on November 18th.

Building our reputation

The third area I want to speak about today is managing our reputation.

Our reputation begins at home, right here on campus. It is important for us to keep working and making progress on issues of diversity and inclusion, so that our diverse faculty, staff and students feel welcome and fully invested in the university community.

It is equally important that we have a safe community. We must continue our partnerships with city and county law enforcement and first responders who proved so vital during the recent flooding. I am asking everyone—students, faculty and staff—to contribute to the campus environment so that it is a safe and welcoming place for all.

Fundamental to our overall reputational success is our research reputation. We are currently ranked among the top 20 research universities in the United States in terms of the productivity and citations of the work of our faculty. In order to maintain that ranking, as I mentioned earlier, we need to be very good at identifying research opportunities and going after them in an aggressive manner.

To support our researchers and make them more competitive, we have recently embarked on a transformation of the Offices of Contracts and Grants and Sponsored Projects Accounting. Our goal is to provide a top-notch sponsored research administration that is second-to-none. We have invested in new management, new staffing and additional I.T. resources so that we have the kind of support our researchers need to compete at the highest level.

Also key to our reputation is a consistent messaging platform for the campus. We want to distinguish CU-Boulder as a comprehensive research university through consistent and dynamic messaging.

Today I am announcing the implementation of a group called the Strategic Marketing Alliance. It will represent faculty, students, and many key academic and administrative units which generate the most prolific messaging. These include Admissions, Continuing Education, Alumni, Athletics, Student Affairs and University Communications. I have charged that group with ensuring that communications from the University have a consistent look and feel.

Over the next few months, we will be providing detail on a new messaging platform and the processes by which your college, school, or department can engage.
It is extremely important if we are to shift the perception of CU-Boulder in the market as the comprehensive research university that we are, that we stop communicating independently and instead align our messaging so that we can capitalize on the full power and value of our institution.

One of the key areas of focus in our messaging will be our alumni, who are our best ambassadors. As I mentioned last year, we have a goal of doubling our current alumni participation to 16 percent. With the transition of the foundation staff to the campus, and recent new hires in the alumni association, we are now aligned to pursue this goal. A big part of it will be consistent messaging.

Outreach to our community is vital to our reputation. We cannot hope to advance CU-Boulder's reputation in Colorado, or around the nation and the world, if we have not built and sustained our reputation right here in our own community.

To that end, the Boulder Faculty Assembly is working in concert with the Office of Outreach and Engagement and the Office of Strategic Relations to design a new process that will engage many more faculty in going out into the community to personalize their discoveries and tell the compelling story of our university.

Call to Action

We have made great progress this past year. This year, I am renewing my call to you to actively evaluate how you can contribute to the attainment of one of these three goals:

  • Making innovations in how we serve students,
  • Identifying new sources of funding,
  • and Finding ways to build our reputation.

Whether you are teaching physics or helping to maintain the physical infrastructure of the campus, you can align to one or more of these goals in a proactive manner. I ask managers, chairs, deans and vice chancellors to ensure that the employees in your area discuss this and become aligned to these goals.

As I have said this morning, this alignment will require uncommon effort. It would be a challenge for any campus, of course, but our campus thrives and has distinguished itself on our entrepreneurial and single-minded pursuit of excellence in research, teaching and service.

I'm not asking any of you to change course in pursuing excellence and recognition in the work you do. I am asking that you align your work to the goals of the university.

I am asking that you communicate your vision consistent with the greater university vision, so that we can reach bigger audiences, forge more alliances, build more partnerships and extend the university's reach to new people and new communities.

I am challenging us to continue the process we have begun of breaking down old paradigms of organization, research and teaching and replacing them with new levels of cooperation, interdisciplinary work, shared resources and shared success.

Our own students are calling on us to break down hierarchies and provide more service to them and more value to their degrees. They are joined by parents, lawmakers, our own Board of Regents, our president, our governor and our nation's president.

We need to answer this call as boldly and clearly as our predecessors did when they expanded the university's research and teaching mission during and after World War II...or as they did when the university itself was formed on this beautiful plateau in 1876.

In my 40 years here, I have witnessed incredible change and transformation, from the buildings that make up the campus, to the lives that have been changed within them, and the world that we have helped to transform.

And in seeing all that change, I've never been more certain of anything than I am of this: we will meet the challenges that now confront us.

One hundred years from now these changes we are making will alter the landscape for the better in ways that we, today, cannot imagine.

Thank you very much, and my best to all of you for a marvelous year to come.