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 Tuesday, July 24, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Tabolt leaves a lasting impact

In the life of a university, institutions are occasionally blessed with what can be called "vital" men and women, individuals who arrive at the right moment and whose vision, leadership and service help to transform the institution forever. These individuals are not necessarily chancellors or presidents, but rather may serve at any level. The one thing that distinguishes these individuals is that they are unique as leaders. The University of Colorado will soon bid farewell to one such individual in Paul Tabolt, CU-Boulder's vice chancellor for administration since 1997. Last week, Paul announced his retirement after 16 years of service to the university.

As Vice Chancellor for Administration, Paul's diverse and challenging responsibilities include oversight of the capital planning, design and construction, the physical plant, parking and transportation services, environmental health and safety, emergency management, human resources, the office of discrimination and harassment, the CU Book Store and the University of Colorado Police Department. He also provides executive leadership and policy oversight for the division of Administration, which represents approximately 650 employees and has an operating budget in excess of $125 million. It was clear to me when I first arrived, and Paul took me on a two-hour "extended tour" of the campus, that his role was vital to the success and continued growth of the university.

Paul came to CU-Boulder in 1991 from the University of California as the director of facilities management, a position he quickly transformed from a purely managerial role to one that was strongly advocacy-based. A colleague recently related to me how, shortly after arriving on campus, Paul developed a slide show that revealed in dramatic fashion the millions of dollars of backlogged and desperately needed deferred maintenance that had accumulated and that needed to be completed to bring the campus facilities to an acceptable level. The presentation convinced campus leaders and later, state legislators, to enhance the university's maintenance budget and to make investing in the campus infrastructure a high priority.

During his tenure at CU-Boulder, the campus built environment has grown from 8 million to 9.2 million square feet—a 15 percent growth that Paul has overseen with attention to detail and his characteristic affability. In the process, he has served three CU-Boulder chancellors, two provosts, one senior vice chancellor, six vice chancellors, four university presidents and 15 regents.

Beyond the mere scope of his service, however, Paul's accomplishments stand as symbols to our combined leadership of vision, public-mindedness and what is commonly called "walking the talk." His good will, listening skills and innate knack for diplomacy have been the driving force behind an ever-improving relationship with the City of Boulder Planning Staff and the city's equally dynamic city manager, Frank Bruno. In the past year, we have worked very hard to build on these relationships and, thanks to Paul, we have begun a new era of even more far-reaching cooperation and one in which many of the positive relationships we are establishing with the city will be institutionalized, to the betterment of both of our communities.

Paul has spent hundreds of hours on the issue of CU's apparel suppliers and ending the practice of so-called "sweatshops." He has maintained an open dialogue with CU-Boulder students in the Coalition Against Sweatshop Abuse, often in trying times and through strong periods of disagreement, but always with the joint goals of social justice for apparel workers and contractual stability for the university elevated equally.

Most recently, Paul has worked with energy and vision to move the Boulder campus toward carbon neutrality and environmental sustainability. In 2001, he helped launch an energy conservation program to help reduce the impacts of the campus's growing energy and water consumption. Under Paul's leadership, potable water usage has declined by approximately 110 million gallons per year since 2001; campus energy and water conservation campaigns have avoided costs of over $2.4 million in the last three years; and the campus has invested $1.4 million for energy and water conservation projects, while decreasing hazardous waste by 15 percent.

In his management of human resources, Paul has commissioned important projects including our recent evaluation and assessment of childcare for faculty, staff and students; created a discrimination and harassment policy and a strategy to implement it (in 2004-05) that got the program up and running effectively in fewer than six months; and authorized the investment of time and resources into ESL programs and other programs to train employees to use the staff Web portal.

Through all of these successes, Paul has been an abundant purveyor of good will and values lived, not preached. His staff is a model for diversity, harmony and efficiency that has shown other departments what we can aspire to at CU-Boulder with regard to improving human relations and creating a dynamic workplace. His wit, humor, wise and calm counsel have served me in ways too numerous to mention since I arrived here a little over one year ago, but more importantly, they have served the campus community and indeed, the larger community, for many years.

Paul will retire on Oct. 31, 2007, but will continue in his role until his successor has been identified. I hope you will all join me in the coming months in heralding a wonderful servant of the university, a campus leader who has been vital in so many ways, and a man of extraordinary warmth, wit and wisdom. We have been lucky to have Paul Tabolt, and we wish him well in his retirement. He has marked our campus, and CU's future, forevermore.

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Tabolt leaves a lasting impact

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