Spring 2004 Retreat Report
“The Two Cultures”
Friday, February 27, 2004
Bruns Conference Room, Building 500
CU-Health Sciences Center, Fitzsimons Campus
Mary Ann Shea, director of the President’s Teaching Scholars Program, made opening remarks and welcomed the participants. She noted that February is a month of remembering that it has been 40 years since The Beatles came to the United States, it is Black History Month and the PTSP has two new scholars designated this month. She also welcomed the students who would be participating in the retreat.
Shea said the program mourns the loss of President’s Teaching Scholar Robert “Bob” Pois of history at CU-Boulder, who died on Jan. 18 at the age of 63. Scholar Marty Bickman of UCB English read a “Mourners Kaddish” aloud to the group, who observed a moment of silence.
The retreat participants then introduced themselves, starting with Daniel Barth, newly named Scholar from UCB psychology. Barth explained that he conducts research on neurophysiology and how it relates to human epilepsy. Barth said he teaches introductory level courses in psychology, but also enjoys the chance to teach advanced neuroscience “as hard as I can.”
Newly named Teaching Scholar Carl Wieman of UCB physics also introduced himself. He said he was part of the team that discovered a new form of matter (for which he shared the Nobel Prize in physics). He noted that he has spent a lot of time over the past two years working on improving physics education, particularly at the introductory level. He said he is trying to devise better measurement tools for determining what students are learning.
Other retreat participants included: Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Jack Burns and Teaching Scholars Mitch Handelsman, J.J. Cohen (who presented information on a new research discussion group he helped start in Denver called Café Scientifique), Rick VanDeWeghe, Mike Shull, Gene Abrams, Jim Curry, John Falconer, Marty Bickman, Klaus Timmerhaus, Harvey Segur, Mimi Wesson, Clayton Lewis, Laura Goodwin, Tom Huber, Anne Costain, Judy Stahlnaker, Jim Burkhart and Denise Webster.
Burns reported that President Betsy Hoffman sent her regrets, but she was in Washington, D.C. and could not attend the retreat. Burns said Hoffman had asked him to give the Scholars report, adding that it has been a challenging month, not only because of the concerns over the football recruiting program, but also the university’s budget situation. He said the president has been very engaged in advocating for CU with the Legislature and that CU officials continue to press the case with lawmakers in Denver and Washington.
He handed out a chart, which lists the major university of each state, showing that the University of Colorado is dead last in terms of state money allocated per student FTE. “The institutions on this list are not what we would consider peer institutions to CU,” Burns said. For example the University of Mississippi is ranked number 3 in terms of FTE funding. In 1978, CU was fifth in the nation regarding support for higher education, Burns said. Among important questions to ask, he said, is, “Why is CU so darn good given the lack of state support?”
Burns handed out a booklet prepared by system administration, titled “Surviving the Financial Challenges,” which includes charts depicting the changes in state support for higher education and backs up Hoffman’s statement that higher ed institutions will have no state funding by 2010 if trends continue. If that becomes the case, Burns said, the community and state colleges would need to close their doors, and CU and CSU “will have to rethink how we do business,” and privatize. He said the Legislature will also be considering bills to modify TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) and that “ultimately, that kind of change has to be considered. Otherwise this is an inevitable train wreck.”