March 2015
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano Philip P. DiStefano

Dear Friends,

Astronaut Senior Nicole Ela

Senior Nicole Ela, an aerospace engineering sciences student, poses in an astronaut suit during Aerospace Day at the Colorado State Capitol on March 23 with Maj. Gen. Jay Lindell, Colorado's aerospace and defense industry champion. CU-Boulder has a long legacy of supporting the aerospace industry through research and workforce development and it is NASA's top-funded public university. 

We were proud to be well represented at Aerospace Day at the state Capitol on March 23 because we are a central driver of Colorado's space economy in education and workforce training, research, and collaborative projects with Colorado's space industry giants.

The media has nicknamed us Space U for good reasons:

  • Our aerospace engineering program is highly ranked nationally.
  • CU-Boulder is NASA's top-funded public research university.
  • We've sent scientific instruments to every planet in the solar system.
  • Last year we worked with NASA and a trio of Colorado companies to send our MAVEN spacecraft to Mars.
  • MAVEN was the largest research contract in our history and it returned $300 million to the Colorado economy.

Our space legacy predates NASA, when our scientists sold rocket technology to Boulder-based Ball Brothers Co. in 1956. It launched Colorado as a key location for space-based research and was one of the first instances of technology transfer in our history.

Today, Colorado ranks first in the nation for private-sector aerospace employment and third in total direct employment of aerospace workers. The state has more than 400 space-related companies in a growing space industry and we are pleased to be able to support it in such a tangible way.

Here are three stories this month featuring our work in space research and innovation—work that is achieved with the full participation of students, including undergraduates.

Denver Post, March 8: CU-Boulder at the center of NASA's upcoming MMS mission

[videoicon /] Channel 9, March 12: CU-Boulder students at center of upcoming NASA mission

Washington Post, March 11: "One of Saturn's moons could have the ingredients necessary for life"

Atomic, molecular and optical physics No. 1 for 10th consecutive year

Eric Cornell

Physics Nobel laureate Eric Cornell works with graduate students in his lab. Atomic, molecular and optical physics was the No. 1 ranked graduate program in the nation for the 10th consecutive year. Quantum physics is ranked eighth. CU-Boulder has seven programs in the top 10 including aerospace engineering.

I'm pleased to report we maintained our No. 1 ranking in atomic, molecular and optical physics for the 10th consecutive year in the 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Graduate Schools.

In addition, we had another six graduate programs in the Top 10—environmental law (fifth), ceramics (eighth), quantum physics (eighth), geology (ninth), physical chemistry (ninth) and aerospace engineering (10th). Another five are in the Top 20 (chemical engineering, education policy, clinical psychology, environmental engineering and physics).

Graduate students are society's future scientists, engineers, teachers and STEM leaders and when they teach and partner with our undergraduates they are passing on new knowledge fresh from laboratory and field work. 

CU-Boulder Today, March 10: CU-Boulder graduate programs rated highly by US News & World Report

National champions … again

Championship Buffs

Any Buff fan will enjoy this emotional video that captures a national championship moment.

Championship Buffs

The Buffs ski team won its 20th NCAA national championship in Lake Placid, New York, on March 14. Eleven skiers earned National All-Academic team honors with grade-point averages topping 3.5. You can get your national championship shirt here. 

Congratulations to the Buffs ski team, which won its 20th national championship March 14 in Lake Placid, New York. It was coach Richard Rokos' eighth national title in 25 years as head coach.

This is the third time CU has won two national championships in the same athletic season, with the men's cross country team claiming the NCAA title last fall. (In 1990-91, CU won football and skiing, and in 2004-05, the Buffs claimed both the men's and women's cross country crowns).

I've often said that athletic and academic performances are not mutually exclusive and the ski team proves it. Eleven CU skiers earned National All-Academic Team honors. To qualify, a skier must have a grade-point average in excess of 3.5 and have skied in regionals.

Aiding student recovery

The challenge to colleges and universities around the nation to focus on healthy behaviors and emphasize academic achievement remains critical, but I'm proud of the way our campus is facing this challenge with honesty and innovation.

A story by Denver's local ABC affiliate focuses on our efforts to help students who are in alcohol or drug recovery with a special residential environment in a Williams Village residence hall. Some students enter the university with a history of addiction and are dedicated to their recovery, as you see from the story below.

[videoicon /] ABC 7 News Denver, March 17: "CU Boulder's Collegiate Recovery Center's sober-living housing is a safe haven for students"

CU-Boulder offering new payment plans

Yesterday the Board of Regents approved the lowest resident tuition increase at CU-Boulder in nearly a decade—2.9 percent. I'm committed to doing what I can to keep CU affordable and accessible to students at all income levels.

Even though college cost is going up nationally, as public higher education has suffered long-term state funding cuts, CU-Boulder's student loan debt is below the national average and for six consecutive years we have been rated a "Best Value" public university by USA Today and The Princeton Review. We are listed as the 10th most affordable college in the West in the 2014 edition of Great Value Colleges.

Still, we can lighten a family's load with new interest-free payment plans allowing students and their families to spread out the cost of attendance.

Boulder Daily Camera, March 13: "CU-Boulder offering new interest-free payment plans for college costs"

Unconventional learning

Pueblo Magico

I'm a career educator—from high school English teacher to dean of the School of Education at CU-Boulder, with a passion for learning and teaching. I am especially pleased by our El Pueblo Mágico (The Magical Community) afterschool program that teaches both elementary school students and our School of Education students as we inspire future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It's a bit unconventional because in this setting the children sometimes are the experts.

[videoicon /]  9 News, March 17: "CU Boulder students learn 'unconventionally'"

Go Buffs!

Philip P. DiStefano