September 2015
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano Philip P. DiStefano

Dear Friends,

Colorado has the No. 3 space-related economy in the nation based on employment numbers and CU-Boulder has a long space legacy as NASA's top-funded public university. Now the two are joining forces to create Colorado’s next-generation space economy.

Our new Our Space. Our Future. initiatives announced this month will make strategic investments over a number of years to transform space exploration. It will find pathways to address global issues that affect all of us, such as a changing environment, increasing population and limited resources.

For 50 years, CU-Boulder has been a leader in the Earth and space sciences. These initiatives will expand the university's existing expertise in Earth, space and social sciences. Researchers will develop solutions in collaboration with government and industry partners to rapidly address the pace and pattern of changes in the resources and environment of our planet.

Details on the Grand Challenge initiatives can be found on the Grand Challenges website.

Denver Post, Sept. 14: "CU launches Grand Challenge to help solve vexing science problems"

Enrollment sets diversity and retention records

students dancing

Students dance at the Cultural, Unity and Engagement Center kick-off barbecue on the Regent Hall lawn last month as part of student welcoming activities. 

Last month I wrote about the impressive academic make-up of our freshman class with an average high school GPA of 3.62, including 1,568 students with a 4.0.

The numbers are official now and our 2015-16 enrollment set diversity and retention records.

Eighty-six percent of freshmen returned to campus for their second year, representing a 2 percentage point increase in retention, and a major step toward my goal of increasing the graduation rate.

The number of ethnic minority students reached an all-time record at 6,464, comprised of 5,763 undergraduates, 1,510 of whom are new freshmen. In addition, nearly 18 percent of new freshmen are first-generation students.

Total campus enrollment is 31,300 students, an increase of 1,035 or 3.4 percent over last year. Most popular majors for undergraduates are integrative physiology, psychology, mechanical engineering, economics and finance.

Boulder Daily Camera, Sept. 18: "CU-Boulder: Freshman class is most diverse, smartest on record"

Aerospace engineering and other programs highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report

a student holds a drone

CU-Boulder aerospace engineering graduate student Anthony Carfang launches an unmanned aerial vehicle for testing north of Boulder.

Our aerospace engineering program is a top-10 program (No. 6 public, No. 10 overall), according to newly released Best Colleges rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

The rankings are based on graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and academic peer assessment. The list of "National Universities" in which CU-Boulder competes consists of 280 institutions -- 173 public and just over 100 private. CU-Boulder finished 37th overall among public universities, up from 38 last year.

Among our other top-rated public university programs are engineering (21), business (22), chemical engineering (13), civil engineering (11), environmental engineering (7) and "Best Colleges for Veterans" (28).

CU News Center, Sept. 8: "University of Colorado campuses retain lofty spots on annual lists"

Helping students with a pathway to health and sobriety

One of my top strategic priorities is student success and to achieve that we have to focus on health and safety. Our Collegiate Recovery Center provides campus housing for students who want to live a sober lifestyle. It’s a great place for students who enter the university with a history of addiction and are dedicated to their recovery, as well as those who choose to live drug-and-alcohol free.

[videoicon /] 7News, Denver, Sept. 14: "CU Boulder offering housing for students who want to live sober"

Amazing journey inspires all Buffs

Our alumni inspire us and there is no better example than the amazing journey of Trevor Thomas (Econ '93) who is blind and hiked the 489-mile Colorado Trail solo. His perseverance and willingness to take on a bold challenge is a defining characteristic of so many students, alumni and faculty and I am pleased to share his story with you.

Boulder Daily Camera, Aug. 23: "Blind CU grad hikes entire Colorado Trail — thanks to a special dog"

Youth learn classics and the Constitution

Classics Day staff demonstrate gladiator techniques

Who says education can’t be dramatic? Kurt Weinreich, a volunteer re-enactor, demonstrates techniques of gladiators to school children at Classics Day at CU-Boulder. 

One of our missions as a public university is community education and outreach. More than 110,000 K-12 students and teachers attend our educational outreach activities annually. This month offered two prime examples.

Law students and alumni taught constitutional lessons in high school classrooms across Colorado in honor of Constitution Day, the annual commemoration of the Sept. 17, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution.

Since the project was launched in 2011 more than 290 students and alumni have visited more than 300 high school classrooms.

The Classics department hosted 200 primary, middle school and high school students from across the state for Colorado Classics Day to broaden students’ horizons on classical languages and culture. The day is in response to requests from Colorado Latin teachers. 

Research you can use . . . to help you sleep!

I hope you are not staying up late to read this. If you are, you should read about the new study by our own Kenneth Wright featured on National Public Radio earlier this month.

[audioicon /] National Public Radio, Sept. 16: "Caffeine at night resets your inner clock"

Buffs off to 2-1 start

Diego Gonzalez

Diego Gonzalez is all smiles after he kicks the game-winning field goal to give the Buffs a 27-24 overtime victory over Colorado State before 66,253 fans at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.  His parents traveled 18 hours from their home in Mexico to be at the game.

The Buffs are off to a 2-1 start and took home the Centennial Cup with a thrilling overtime football victory over in-state rival Colorado State in the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver Sept. 19. Today, they’re taking on Nicholls State, and then will turn their focus to their Pac-12 schedule beginning next Saturday against Oregon at home.

Go Buffs!

Philip P. DiStefano