Philip P. DiStefano
Dame Julie Andrews was the commencement speaker May 10, chosen by the Senior Class Council.
In my commencement welcome this month I joined parents, family, friends and faculty in a celebration for our 6,084 graduates and their personal growth and transformation during their time here at the University of Colorado Boulder. I also had the pleasure of introducing Dame Julie Andrews, chosen by the Senior Class Council as our Spring 2013 commencement speaker.
Dame Andrews spoke of how lifelong learning, adaptability and flexibility served her well when she lost her legendary singing voice and began writing award-winning children’s books. These are virtues we have long held as valuable in a CU degree. A highlight of her address was included in the NBC Nightly News wrap-up of 2013 commencement addresses, and is at 3:14 of this video. I encourage you to watch the entire video, as it evokes the myriad emotions we all feel as we send our newest graduates into the world.
This spring’s graduating class included 11 Boettcher Scholars, 19 Norlin Scholars, 11 Presidents Leadership Class scholars and three Goldwater Scholars, often called the nation’s premier scholarship for math, science and engineering.
Sixteen-year-old Natasha Goss graduated summa cum laude and is heading to Harvard for her Ph.D.
The class also included 16-year-old Natasha Goss, who graduated summa cum laude and is heading to a Ph.D. program in atmospheric chemistry at Harvard.
Certainly it’s been an outstanding academic year at CU-Boulder, one highlighting our rigor and the top-flight students who choose to study here. A record 12 students this spring were offered Fulbright grants to pursue teaching, research and graduate studies abroad during the 2013-14 academic year. The Fulbrights are among the world’s most prestigious award programs.
First new colleges in 50 years proposed
We are reconfiguring how we deliver education with a proposal for two new colleges to deliver degrees and also living up to our promise as a leading flagship university for the 21st century articulated in our Flagship 2030 Strategic Plan. A college focused on media, communication and information, and a college designed around CU-Boulder’s strengths in the environment and sustainability would be the first two new colleges on campus in 50 years. If approved by the Board of Regents these colleges will create exciting opportunities for students.
Fundraising gives students opportunities and transforms lives in the form of scholarships. I have set a goal on the Boulder campus of doubling our private fundraising to $100 million annually. While we can count many successes in our fundraising thanks to the generosity of donors, we need to raise more money to support CU’s academic and research mission.
Organizational changes announced this month in the operations of the University of Colorado Foundation will help us realize our goals. Employees of the CU Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, will become university employees to increase campus collaboration and accountability to improve fundraising.
Many of you know that Colorado ranks No. 48 in the nation for state funding to higher education and some economic studies predict that state funding for Colorado public higher education is on pace to dry up in 10 years or less. Continually declining state funding threatens CU’s ability to meet its public mission and it is incumbent on the university to boost private fundraising on a par with our Pac-12 peers.
More than 1,000 undergraduate students participate in research at CU-Boulder.
CU-Boulder ranks 14th in the world for research impact and citations
Our research prowess not only brings in federal research dollars, but also gives undergraduates uncommon opportunities to participate in life-changing research while building a 21st-century skill set. In addition, knowledge gleaned from research is migrated to the classroom for the benefit of all students. So we are especially pleased that an analysis of 500 universities worldwide ranks us 14th in research citations in scholarly journals, demonstrating our faculty and students are leaders in meaningful research, advancing knowledge that impacts us all.
An image of the experimental camera built to mimic the eyes of arthropods.
CU-Boulder research accomplishments that made news this month include a tumor suppressor gene that has been shown to shut down cancerous cell division; space weather instrumentation that will measure solar output affecting satellite operations, telecommunications, GPS navigation and power grids; and this report on National Public Radio on a camera lens long sought by engineers that imitates the functionality of an insect eye.
CU-Boulder again ranks high for return on investment
CU-Boulder was selected this month as one of the nation’s top 50 affordable colleges with the highest return on investment by AffordableColleges.org placing No. 21. When considered alongside evaluations by SmartMoney.com and PayScale.com, these independent analyses continue to rank the value of a CU-Boulder education among elite universities. Explore the value of a CU-Boulder degree here.
Kindergarten students learn about the power of the brain at "Brain Day" this month.
Educational outreach to youngsters inspires lifelong learning
Our educational outreach to students of all ages to inspire lifelong learning is something in which we take great pride. These include a summer program for high school students to ensure they are prepared for college, an elementary school program that teaches about the brain organized by CU’s Institute of Cognitive Science and a K-12 program on campus that received an award for excellence in environmental education.
Ceal Barry named interim director of intercollegiate athletics
Just this week, I named Ceal Barry interim director of intercollegiate athletics, replacing Mike Bohn, who resigned. Mike achieved important milestones for athletics, including revitalizing men’s and women’s basketball, helping us to join the Pac-12, and taking key first steps in improving athletics facilities. Ceal will provide strong leadership for us as we begin a national search for Mike’s replacement. I told the media this week that we are seeking an AD that can manage a $50 to $60 million operation in a competitive environment for college sports, increase fundraising and engagement with donors, and take us to new levels of excellence and performance in the Pac-12. I hope to name a search committee in the next two weeks.
Philip P. DiStefano, Chancellor
University of Colorado Boulder