Outreach tour an opportunity to highlight CU-Boulder people and programs
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano
My first outreach tour of Colorado as chancellor was as enlightening for me as it was for our audiences. It gave me fresh perspective and insights on the University of Colorado at Boulder through the eyes of our constituents.
In conjunction with the CU-Boulder Alumni Association , Yvonne and I drove 1,300 miles in four days to visit seven communities in southern, southeastern and western Colorado. We met with citizens, community leaders, parents, alumni, prospective students, lawmakers and donors to tell the CU story and to gather their feedback.
Two students, Razan Naqeeb and Bryant Mason, accompanied by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Julie Wong, joined us as we traveled May 27-30 to La Junta, Salida, Gunnison, Durango, Montrose, Grand Junction and Basalt on the “Student Spotlight Tour.”
Razan and Bryant received ovations at every stop for their commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. I heard from our audiences that if these two young people represent the average CU student, the state of Colorado is in good hands. I'm proud to say that there are thousands of students on campus like them.
Razan is a junior majoring in economics with a minor in political science who volunteers as a tutor with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County. Bryant is a junior majoring in environmental studies and economics who leads the group "CU Going Local," which promotes consumption of local food as a way to encourage sustainability. Both are Puksta Scholars , a CU-Boulder scholarship program that encourages civic engagement as part of their education.
While we have become known far and wide for the extent that our research benefits society, this was an opportunity to remind our stakeholders across the state of the quality of our students and the education they receive.
Our new and old friends at each stop returned to their homes and offices confident in the education their young adults and future leaders are receiving from their flagship university. And I came away with a renewed sense of how important CU-Boulder is to each of these communities.
I heard a ringing call for CU-Boulder to continue to be their partner in economic development, educational programs and community outreach. For example, the people of Grand Junction would like to see more academic programs like our highly successful partnership with Mesa State College in which local students earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from CU-Boulder by taking classes delivered at Mesa State. To the delight of everyone, the program has far exceeded enrollment projections.
Similarly, citizens in Durango and Gunnison are interested in academic and research partnerships with their local colleges, Fort Lewis and Western State. One model for this is the San Juan Collaboratory partnership with Fort Lewis College and other local entities in interdisciplinary research addressing issues such as forest management, water quality and mine drainage on the Western Slope.
Three of the communities we visited - Durango, Grand Junction and La Junta - were among our 16 community partners in conceiving our Flagship 2030 strategic plan, which was based on the input of hundreds of individuals across the state. They were gratified to know that we are implementing this plan for Colorado's future, and they are seeing us embody it as we serve Colorado, the community and our graduates with education and outreach - one of the core initiatives of Flagship 2030.
The statewide tour reinforced that we need to continue to have a strong presence in all our communities across the state in economic development, cultural opportunities, research partnerships and academic programs.