Chancellor's Spring Town Hall

Welcome. Thank you for coming this afternoon. Chancellor DiStefano speaks at the 2017 Spring Town Hall

Every spring and every fall I take this opportunity to update you on our campus goals and priorities, and how we are progressing in achieving them.

We have been doing this annual spring town hall for a few years now. Last year it was devoted solely to achieving our inclusive excellence initiatives. This year we are focusing on our campus imperatives, which embeds our inclusive excellence goals.

It takes all of you, and the entire community, to bring our vision to reality and achieve these strategic imperatives.

First I want to mention great things happening on our campus.

We are very pleased that Lockheed Martin has invested $3 million in a CU partnership to fund a campus research center on radio frequency technologies and their use in space communications systems.

The Lockheed Martin Radio Frequency Research Center will also offer several academic programs to prepare tomorrow’s leaders. This is a great example of industry collaboration.

Also, through the generosity of Ann Smead and Michael Byram, $15 million in gifts will propel scholarships and fellowships in our aerospace engineering program.

The newly named Ann and H.J. Smead Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Sciences is ranked one of the top 4 departments in the country overall, including the No. 8 graduate program and the No. 12 undergraduate program.

This gift will attract top students and faculty in perpetuity.

Last month the College of Music announced its College-Plus campaign. It’s halfway to meeting its $50 million goal, including major naming gifts.

Thanks to our donors and our leadership in the college, the College of Music is broadly regarded as a Top-10 public-university music program.

In December, the Leeds School of Business announced two major gifts totaling nearly $10 million. One is a $3.7 million gift from a group of donors, alumni and foundations in support of the Hernando de Soto Capital Markets program.

The other is a $6 million commitment from 1987 Leeds graduate Tandean Rustandy, who heads one of the world’s largest tile manufacturing companies. Tandean said, “I come from a very humble family with working-class parents in Indonesia. Without CU Boulder and Leeds, I would not be who I am today.”

These are just a few examples of the wonderful things going on around campus.

Let’s not forget to celebrate what an awesome place CU Boulder is.

However, you’ve heard of the ancient Chinese saying, May you live in interesting times.

While it’s debatable whether its ancient or Chinese, it curiously purports to be a blessing, when it’s actually a curse.

I think, you could say we have been living in interesting times this spring.

  • We’ve had a series of interesting – and challenging – speakers on campus.
  • And there are many issues related to the change in administration in Washington.
    • Federal immigration changes that may affect students, faculty and research.
    • Changes in treatment of undocumented people around the country.
    • Federal budget proposals that may change how higher education is funded – both for student aid and research.
    • A federal repeal in guidance for transgender rights.
  • And many other issues  

These are all things we take very seriously.  We are addressing them as we are able, and as is appropriate for the university. For instance, I established the Campus Quick Response team in January to mobilize around immigration and other emerging issues with the potential to impact students, faculty and staff.

This team has been quickly collaborating, responding and communicating to ensure people aren’t reacting to rumors. We are in rapid response mode to these quickly changing issues and others we can foresee, such as federal budget discussions on research funding. This challenges us to be innovative and creative.

However, when we find ourselves in choppy seas, we can’t allow the boat to be driven by rough waters. We need to stay on the tiller, chart our own course, and not lose sight of our goals and values. We will continue to focus on our strategic imperatives.

Our vision at CU Boulder is to be a leader in addressing the humanitarian, social, and technological challenges of the twenty-first century.

This vision informs our three strategic imperatives.

  • First, shape tomorrow’s leaders through our foundation of student success. This means:
    • Retain and graduate our students.
    • Understand, share and engage in diverse perspectives as a global community.
    • Develop critical thinking and creative problem solving skills.
    • and train students for leadership.
  • Second, we want to be the top university for innovation.
    • This includes serving as the nexus for innovation by facilitating collaboration and the sharing of diverse perspectives between universities, industry, laboratories, and communities.
  • Third, positively impact humanity. This includes a great variety of activities such as:
    • Broadening and expanding research, scholarship and creative work and articulating the positive societal impacts they advance.
    • Collaborating to produce graduates who make meaningful contributions to society.  

We see how our university positively impacts humanity every day, in our labs, in our schools and even in our rec center.

  • Our engineers have created a new material that can cool hot buildings with no energy or water consumption.
  • Our Shakespeare troupe uses plays to bring anti-bullying messages to schools, reaching 70,000 school children in the last five years. This illustrates great interdisciplinary collaboration with the Institute of Behavioral Science.
  • Our new inclusive recreation initiative includes Zumba classes taught in American Sign Language, and adaptive ice-skating equipment among many other offerings.

The point is, everyone can play a role. Today, our esteemed panelists will show us how they are beginning to extend the campus strategic imperatives into their own units in a number of ways, as well as collaborating with other units to maximize impact, increase the speed in which they can affect change, and create innovative approaches.

My hope is that through their discussion they can spark your own units and create ideas.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce our panel moderators: Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Kelly Fox, and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Russ Moore.

And also, our panelists:

  • Lori Bergen, dean of the College of Media, Communication and Information
  • Bobby Braun, the new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • And Terri Fiez, vice chancellor for Research and Innovation

I will hand it over to them and I will take a seat to see what I can learn.

I want to thank our moderators and panelists. Their enlightening examples of how their units are embodying the Strategic Imperatives for the benefit of our students and our campus is inspiring. I hope we can all take something away from their discussion.