March 2016
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano Philip P. DiStefano

Dear Friends,

CU-Boulder outreach inspires curiosity and passion for learning in youth, educates teachers, serves vital community needs and keeps us personally connected with the citizens of our state and the nation. It's what a flagship university should be doing.

Our students and faculty have been doing important community work this month in Grand Junction, Greeley and Craig.

We also enjoyed partnering with Lockheed Martin to host two dozen high school students last month from across Colorado's Front Range, and from as far as Illinois. It's notable that one-third of Lockheed engineers are CU-Boulder graduates.

Further, a new community-based research fellowship provides graduate students with funding to study a public issue, such as police accountability, indoor air quality and food security, with a community partner.

Boulder Daily Camera, March 20: "CU-Boulder fellowship seeks to tackle public issues with research"

Community outreach and service are pillars of our mission, along with teaching and research, and we take it seriously.

Vice President Biden among distinguished campus speakers

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden will visit CU-Boulder next week.

Vice President Joe Biden will visit CU-Boulder next week to deliver a speech on the "importance of preventing sexual assault on college campuses across the country," according to his office.

The vice president chose to visit CU-Boulder because of our strong efforts to support the "It's On Us" campaign, which denounces sexual violence and encourages bystanders to be more effective in prevention efforts.

The vice president is not the only high-profile speaker coming to campus this year.

Our students recently selected Facebook Global Marketing Director and CU-Boulder alumna Kelly Graziadei as the May 7 commencement speaker. We expect her address to be relevant, timely and inspiring.

Meantime, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is the keynote speaker for the 68th annual Conference on World Affairs next week. On June 23, we are thrilled to host the Dalai Lama

Research, service projects create special spring break opportunities

Sweta Tripathi and Arthur Antoine

PhD student mentor Arthur Antoine, right, helps undergraduate environmental engineering first-year student Sweta Tripathi with a computer-aided design program in the Spring Break for Research program. 

While many college students were spending well-deserved spring breaks last week lounging on beaches or skiing the Colorado Rockies, some CU-Boulder students were working in Guatemala building homes with Habitat for Humanity or conducting undergraduate research in campus labs. The lab students participated in Spring Break for Research, an initiative now in its second year that pairs high-achieving undergraduate students with graduate student mentors for a week of hands-on research.

9 News, March 21: "A different kind of spring break for CU students"

Student success remains top campus priority

graduate students selected by NASA

Student success can present itself in countless ways. One example is this team of aerospace engineering graduate students selected by NASA as finalists to send their CubeSat satellite into deep space.  

Programs like Spring Break for Research enhance the experiences and success of our students. As you may know, my top priority for the campus is student success.

We want to increase retention and graduation rates and we have several new programs in place to help accomplish that. We also are instituting a new freshman seminar course to help students connect with faculty and potential mentors over the course of their careers at CU.

Boulder Daily Camera, March 19: "CU-Boulder eyes freshman seminar program to improve retention rates"

To reach their full potential, all students must feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging on campus. We addressed social climate as a campus community in my annual Spring Town Hall on March 17.

Boulder Daily Camera, March 17: "Phil DiStefano: 2016 a 'pivotal point' in CU-Boulder's quest to improve campus social climate"

Students should be supported in many ways—through academic programs, a welcoming social climate, new study areas and support for diverse learners.

CU-Boulder faculty deserve kudos

I'm pleased to report that seven CU-Boulder faculty members are on the latest Thompson Reuters list of the most highly cited researchers worldwide. They represent six different CU-Boulder departments and are a major reason our students are successful.

Our faculty is also a big reason our atomic, molecular and optical physics graduate program was again named No. 1 in the nation for the 11th consecutive year this month by U.S. News & World Report.

Other top 10 graduate programs are ceramics (5), environmental law (8), aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering (8) and education policy (10).  

Athletics donor support unprecedented

The new athletics facilities

The new athletics facilities debuted last month. They are completely supported by donors.

Last month we debuted new athletic facilities to support our student-athletes and fans, including the indoor practice facility and the Champions Center, which is completely supported by the generosity of our enthusiastic donors. The Champions Center also houses the new, innovative CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center. Donor support is at an all-time, unprecedented high with 90 percent of the goal already reached in the Athletic Department's "Drive for $105" million.

Boulder Daily Camera, March 19: "Rick George leads CU's fundraising explosion"

Buffs name new women’s basketball coach

JR Payne

JR Payne coached Santa Clara to a 23-9 record and a win over powerhouse Stanford. 

On Monday we announced that JR Payne is set to join us from Santa Clara University (23-9) to lead the Buffs women's basketball team. Coach Payne led Santa Clara to a 12-game winning streak including a victory at Stanford, a traditional powerhouse. She succeeds Linda Lappe who coached the Buffs for six seasons. 

Pride in our student athletes

Derek McCartney donates bone marrow stem cells

Derek McCartney is supported by a friend as he donates bone marrow stem cells.

Last month in this letter I expressed pride in our student athletes for their collective fall semester grade point average, the highest in our recorded history: 2.968. This month I am especially proud to share the story of how Buffs defensive end Derek McCartney donated bone marrow stem cells to save a life.

9News, March 14: "CU football player helps save a life"

Go Buffs!


Philip P. DiStefano