October 2015
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano Philip P. DiStefano

Dear Friends,

Boneth Ahaneku, Russ Moore and Philip DiStefano

Boneth Ahaneku, CU Student Government president for internal affairs, left, and Ethnic Studies Chair and Professor Daryl Maeda (not pictured), moderated the Chancellor's State of the Campus panel on Oct. 13. Panelists (l-r) were Provost Russ Moore, Chancellor Philip DiStefano and CFO Kelly Fox (not pictured). 

I often talk about student success, but today I want to focus on the reputation of the campus and how that impacts the value of a CU-Boulder degree.

Our reputation is vitally important to attracting top students, donors, sponsored research and industry partnerships that enable us to support our students and the high-impact research done on this campus.

Reputation isn't about hype, PR, slogans or posturing. Reputation is built slowly by the quality of our faculty, staff, students, research, campus life and the total experience CU-Boulder offers.

Reputation –  along with many other subjects –  was discussed in my annual State of the Campus address Oct. 13.

Rather than giving a speech as I have in the past, Provost Russell Moore and Senior Vice Chancellor and CFO Kelly Fox joined me for a panel discussion on my top priorities: student success, enhancing our reputation and diversifying our revenue.

We had a great response, with a standing-room crowd of more than 300 in the Glenn Miller Ballroom while others on campus followed by live streaming and dozens of questions were submitted online.

 Watch all or part of the State of the Campus discussion.

CU-Boulder ranked among best global universities

Natasha Powell and Professor Tom Cech

Undergraduate Natasha Powell, triple majoring in biology, biochemistry and neuroscience, works with CU-Boulder Nobel Prize winner Tom Cech in his lab at the BioFrontiers Institute this week. Powell is a member of Cech’s research team. Cech is teaching an undergraduate chemistry course this fall. Undergraduates learning directly from Nobel Prize winners is one reason CU-Boulder is rated a top global university.

In the State of the Campus we talked about our reputation and how our "brand" is the quality of our academic offerings. I mentioned our five Nobel Prizes, eight MacArthur "genius" fellows, a Pulitzer Prize last spring and our top rankings in atomic, molecular and optical physics (No. 1 in the nation) and geosciences (No. 2 in the world). Here’s another one worth mentioning: This month U.S. News & World Report ranked CU-Boulder No. 46 out of 750 universities worldwide in its new Best Global Universities rankings.

Boulder Daily Camera, Oct. 12: "CU-Boulder ranked No. 46 on global list by U.S. News & World Report"

Celebrated ancient stone tools go on display for the first time

ice age tools

Ice Age tools are displayed by CU-Boulder anthropologist Douglas Bamforth, left and Boulder homeowner Patrick Mahaffy. The 13,000-year old tools were found in Mahaffy's backyard. They are on display at the CU Museum of Natural History for at least the next year. 

When it comes to reputation, it never hurts to have your good work mentioned in five dozen media outlets across the country. That was the case this month when we announced that ancient stone tools found quite literally in our backyard will be on display in the CU Museum of Natural History for at least the next year.

The Ice Age tools – believed to be 13,000 years old – were found in the backyard of our neighbor Patrick Mahaffy during a home landscaping project. He immediately contacted our world-class anthropologists, who identified them.

Professor Douglas Bamforth says protein residue tests showed two of the knives among the 83-tool cache were used to butcher American camels and horses. Also roaming the area at the time were saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, rhinos and giant ground sloths.

"It's highly evocative to imagine these tools in the hands of ancient people chasing down prehistoric mammals," said homeowner Mahaffy, who loaned the tools to the university for the exhibit, which opened Oct. 9.

USA Today, Oct. 7: "Landscapers found stone tools in Colorado from Ice Age"

Goodall attracts nearly 9,000 to Coors Events Center

Jane Goodall at CU-Boulder

World renowned primate researcher Jane Goodall is introduced by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Steven Leigh before nearly 9,000 people at the Coors Events Center on Oct. 1.

A top comprehensive research university with a shining reputation attracts speakers and lecturers who educate and inspire our students and the broader community. Jane Goodall is a scientist with rock-star status and a reputation of her own as a seminal figure in primate research.

At 81, Goodall no longer studies chimpanzees in the Tanzanian jungle but stays busy passing her conservation ethic on to the next generation. Nearly 9,000 people came to hear her speak at the Coors Events Center on Oct. 1.

 9 News, Denver, Oct. 1: "Jane Goodall's lecture at CU-Boulder draws thousands"

$6.2 million grant for school safety

Demitra Theard

Demitra Theard, of the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club, participates in an exercise on healthy school environment through a Safe Communities Safe Schools program last summer.

Part of what shapes an institution’s reputation is its impact on the lives of people and communities. CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence will lead a new $6.2 million federal grant to promote school safety at the middle school level. The grant will build and improve on the center’s Safe Communities Safe Schools initiative launched in 1999 with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office after the Columbine High School shootings.

Middle school is a critical time to reinforce violence-prevention efforts because the risk of problem behavior dramatically increases with the onset of adolescence, says Beverly Kingston, director of the center and the grant's principal investigator. 

Boulder Daily Camera, Oct. 8: "CU-Boulder lands $6.2M grant to promote safety at middle school level"

Life-changing research that makes a difference

Tin Tin Su

CU-Boulder Professor Tin Tin Su co-founded SuviCa in 2010 with CU graduate Scott Norviel (Econ'10) based on drug-screening technology developed by Su.

You may not know that 92 companies have been formed since 1994 based on discoveries by CU-Boulder faculty, including 10 last year.

One recent CU-Boulder biotech start-up, SuviCa Inc., has been awarded $1.5 million in federal funding to develop novel treatments for head and neck cancer.

7News, Denver, Oct. 15: "CU-Boulder biotech startup gets $1.5 million to develop 'radiation enhancer' for head & neck cancer"

Our research advances society, improves quality of life and creates opportunities for more than 2,000 undergraduates to participate in life-changing science and discovery.

For example, the National Institutes of Health last month selected researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder to take part in a landmark study about the effects of substances – including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana – on developing adolescent brains.

9News Denver, Sept. 29: "CU to study effects of substances on young brains"

In addition, CU-Boulder was named the lead institution on a $1.9 million federal grant to develop drones to study the behavior of severe storms.

9News, Denver, Sept. 30: "CU-Boulder to develop drones for severe-storm research"

Student loan default rate drops

student at commencement

The student loan default rate at CU-Boulder has dropped from 4.7 percent to 2.7 percent, significantly lower than the state, national and Pac-12 averages.

One of the motivations for my initiatives on student success is to graduate students in a timely manner with little or no debt.

It was a good sign when our student loan default rate dropped from 4.7 percent to 2.7 percent. It’s also an indicator that CU-Boulder students are getting good jobs upon graduation. CU-Boulder is well below the national and state average in the student default rates and we compare very favorably to our Pac-12 peers.

We have increased investment in campus financial aid from $59.6 million in 2007 to $121.1 million this year. In 2014 we expanded our CU Promise program, which guarantees financial aid to low-income resident students to cover the cost of tuition, fees and books.

Boulder Daily Camera, Oct. 11: "CU-Boulder student loan default rate drops to 2.7 percent"

GOP national TV debate expected to reach more than 20 million

The upcoming Republican presidential debate at CU-Boulder's Coors Events Center is expected to reach an audience of more than 20 million and give our campus unprecedented exposure on a global stage.

Even though we are disappointed that more students will not be able to attend, we are grateful that Republican National Committee officials made 150 tickets available to the campus. The debate has elevated the conversation on campus by students and faculty about the electoral process, the economy and free speech.

Our partner in the debate, CNBC, is sending some of its primary media personnel to speak to classes. NBC is hosting a watch event on campus for students and also recruiting for internships while here. 

The debate will bring more than 500 national and international journalists to the campus who will broadcast live and generate stories about the campus and the community, further cementing our reputation as a campus committed to civic engagement.

Family Weekend draws 6,000 visitors; Homecoming a hit

Folsom at sunset

Many Homecoming and Family Weekend visitors took in a football game at beautiful Folsom Field.

I am pleased we had 6,000 visitors for Family Weekend Oct. 2-4. Among the many events were a golf tournament, football pregame activities and a 5K run that raised about $7,000 for the CU Wardenburg Student Health Center Medical Expense Assistance Fund. 

Our 101st Homecoming Oct. 12-17 featured CU's national champion quarterback Darian Hagan as parade marshal. The CU Student Government, Program Council, the Alumni Association, Athletics and many campus entities supported Homecoming as one of our greatest traditions.

In the end, our reputation – built upon excellence in research, teaching, community service and civic engagement – is best elevated by you as alumni, donors and permanent stakeholders.

Go Buffs!

Philip P. DiStefano