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 Tuesday, June 15, 2010 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


The Pac-10 Is About World-Class Academics
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano

It is said that you are known by the company you keep. The University of Colorado at Boulder will be keeping very good company in the Pacific-10 Conference as its newest and 11th member.

The CU Board of Regents voted Friday to accept the Pac-10’s invitation to join the most prestigious academic and athletic conference in the nation.

On the surface this may seem like an athletics story dominating the weekend sports pages. In actuality it is an investment in our future as a leading academic institution.

While we have a long and proud history in the Big 12 and Big 8 conferences that spawned storied athletic rivalries, CU-Boulder has grown and evolved to the point that we have much more in common with the academic powerhouses of the Pac 10 then we do with the Midwestern universities of the Big 12.

We are excited to be in a conference in which we share a similar vision for transforming the future of higher education in service to our state, our nation, and the world. We are the only member of the prestigious Association of American Universities in the Rocky Mountain West. The Pac-10 has seven fellow AAU members. We are honored to become the eighth.

We share many other similarities with our new Pac-10 partners. CU-Boulder derived $340 million in groundbreaking federally sponsored research in 2009, comparable to Pac-10 universities such as the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Arizona. Our four Nobel Laureates share a legacy of discovery with other Nobel Prize winners at institutions such as Stanford, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles.

CU is talked about in the same breath as Cal, UCLA, Arizona, and Washington as the “public Ivies,” of the West in national publications.

We have a long history of research collaborations with our counterparts in the Pac 10, especially in the areas of aerospace engineering, biomedical research, renewable and sustainable energy, and geosciences. Here are just a few examples.

  • Cal-Berkeley is our university partner in the $485 million MAVEN orbiting space mission scheduled to launch in 2013 to probe the past climate of Mars, including its potential for harboring life over the ages. NASA picked CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics to lead this project.
  • CU Boulder and Stanford are part of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, which is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory management group. We also work with Stanford in numerous long-standing high-energy physics collaborations and in many biomedical collaborations.
  • CU-Boulder also has a decade-long National Science Foundation-funded collaboration with Cal- Berkeley (as well as Colorado State) in the area of extreme ultra-violet laser research.
  • The Physics Teacher Education Coalition, with physics Professor Noah Finkelstein as our principal investigator, includes the University of Arizona and CU-Boulder, among other universities, collaborating on new teaching, outreach, and research-based programs that will enhance our nation’s performance in science, technology, engineering, and math education.
  • Professor Brenda Schick in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences works with colleagues from the University of Washington on a tool to assess quality of life in students with a hearing loss, funded by the National Institutes of Health. It also is noteworthy that the University of Washington is our greatest competitor nationwide in the area of student engagement. Washington is No. 1 in Peace Corps participation and we are No. 2 in the nation by just a few students.

The world-class Pac-10 schools are destination universities for international students, a goal we are pursuing in our Flagship 2030 strategic plan to diversify our campus, give all our students an international perspective in the global economy and boost tuition revenue. The new flexibility legislation signed last week by Gov. Bill Ritter, gives us new latitude to pursue this important goal, as international students will no longer be counted as part of our non-resident cap.

Quite simply, the Pac-10 is a great fit for us. We have a strong alumni and student base in California. We have 35,000 more alumni living in the Pac-10 region than in the Big 12 footprint and we are excited about reuniting regularly with our loyal alumni and fan base that reside within the Pac-10.

I also believe this will be great move for our fans. I think the Buffs will be a team that will “travel well” to attractive Pac-10 destinations. California is our biggest out-of-state feeder of students – with more than 600 new freshmen joining us from California each fall. Competing in their home state will offer us fresh exposure as we continue to recruit some of California’s top students.

While competition doesn’t begin on the field of play until 2012, I can assure you that we are already being associated with the academic-rich Pac-10 schools. Membership in this prestigious conference is the next step in our journey as a comprehensive world-class research university.

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