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 Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Pathways to a Sustainable Future

I'd like to tell you about several exciting developments that will ensure a promising future for CU-Boulder as well as sharpen the university's standing as a world-class institution.

First of all, a new energy initiative has the potential to move CU-Boulder into the forefront as a leader in energy research. The initiative calls for integrating teaching, research and service in a united effort aimed at generating new thinking in the worldwide search for new ideas to make renewable energy a reality. I am pleased that Professor Carl Koval of chemistry and biochemistry has agreed to serve as faculty director for this exciting new program.

Many activities are already in place to support energy initiatives. For example, a series of events on sustainability, organized by the College of Engineering and the Leeds School of Business' Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, in conjunction with several leading organizations, will be held next week.

And two weeks ago, engineering student Jeff Lyng and Deborah Jin were invited to attend President George W. Bush's State of the Union address. Jeff is a graduate student in civil, environmental and architectural engineering and project manager for the Solar Decathlon team, which won the national competition for the second time in October. Deborah, a 2003 winner of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grant," led a team of researchers who discovered a new form of matter called "fermionic condensate."

As Jeff said, this was "a great opportunity to spotlight renewable energy throughout the nation and the work of the University of Colorado Solar Decathlon team."  In his speech, President Bush pledged to increase federal financial support for alternative energy research, and I am confident that CU-Boulder will compete successfully for those awards.

Sustaining Our Infrastructure
It's essential that we expand facilities to accommodate new growth for these and other initiatives. We can see daily progress on the ATLAS and new Wolf Law buildings, and it's thrilling to see the results of student-approved fee support for these new facilities.

We can also look forward to the groundbreaking in May for the renovation and expansion of the Leeds School of Business building, and planning for funding and construction of a new visual arts facility is progressing. So much is happening on this very busy and active campus.

Enhancing Enrollment
New initiatives come at a price. As you know, we've taken cuts in state funding over the past five years and we've had to increasingly rely on nonresident tuition to fulfill a large portion of our budgetary needs. Our ability to recruit non-resident students was strengthened recently with the ratification of a new Presidential Scholars Program by the Board of Regents. The scholarship allows us to give reduced tuition rates to out-of-state students, which should help with our efforts to attract more high-quality students from around the nation.

Another initiative that can transform our campus and its undergraduate experience is the Residential College concept I announced last fall. The model addresses issues of academic standards, retention, personal responsibility and relationships with faculty – all of tremendous importance to our mission.

A study group composed of faculty, staff and students has drafted a strategic plan that sets forth the beginnings of a realistic road map on how to make the Residential College concept a success over time. The group is now presenting its draft report to campus governance groups to solicit their comments and suggestions.

Most importantly, we are working on our response to recommendations put forward by the Blue Ribbon Commission to enhance diversity on the Boulder campus. I am committed to responding to the final recommendations with an action plan that is clear, strong and effective– and one that includes measures for accountability.

Maintaining a Commitment to Excellence
Strong leadership is vital to our success. Most likely, you've seen information about personnel searches that the university is conducting, including the search for the Boulder campus chancellor. I want you to know, too, that I have initiated a search for the permanent Provost position, so that the newly appointed permanent chancellor can move quickly. A search committee is being formed, and more details will be available soon.

Although some of our top positions are preceded by the word "interim," I want to assure you that none of us who carry "interim" as part of our title are acting like we are temporarily filling a position. No way. Time cannot stand still at a world-class university. It's full speed ahead everywhere you look. And that's the way I like it.

Believe me, leading this great university during the past year has been a thrilling experience. All of you, with your boundless energy, your inspiring teaching, your cutting-edge research and your contagious enthusiasm make me very proud. Because of you, the future for this university remains very bright, indeed.

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