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Thank you, Ryan. It’s appropriate that Ryan, as one of our student body presidents, kicks things off today, because this speech is going to be focused on our students.

Welcome all, and thank you for joining me. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a few special guests:

  • My wife, Yvonne, is with us.
  • Regents Linda Shoemaker and Lesley Smith.
  • Leonard Dinegar, CU System Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, has joined us.

In light of our recent events on campus – and the powerful response of our students – I'm going to start by going off my original script this morning.

We talk a lot about shaping tomorrow's leaders, but sometimes tomorrow's leaders shape us – and this is one of those times. On Sunday, racist language was directed at two of our students by someone we believe is not affiliated with our campus and that is, and was, absolutely unacceptable.

This racist incident reminds us of who we are as a campus community, and the need for us to be vigilant in defending our values – and each other – on a daily basis. We are committed to an increasingly inclusive campus culture built upon the values of our Colorado Creed, and incidents like Sunday’s only reinforce the difficult work we have yet to do.

You have told us loud and clear that you want real behavioral change on this campus—and I wholeheartedly agree. 

I have instructed my leadership team, led by Provost Russ Moore and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox, who are here this morning, to partner with our student leaders to immediately begin a review of our policies, trainings, reporting practices and campus awareness efforts. 

Through this review, our goal is to ensure that every person – every person – at CU Boulder has a safe, welcoming and supportive learning environment—and that racism and harassment have no place to hide. 

We will be providing updates to the campus during the remainder of this semester. The changes will begin rolling out through the rest of the academic year.

We look forward to demonstrating to the world what CU Boulder stands for and how we stand together as a community.

Thank you.

Now, I would like to begin today’s address by taking a few moments to share some of the many achievements of our students, faculty and staff over the past year.

We were proud to have our first female Rhodes Scholar, and our first Rhodes Scholar in 25 years, in Serene Singh. Nine students were offered prestigious Fulbright Awards, including Serene.

Among our faculty, five assistant and associate professors were awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Awards in 2019. And just last month, the Board of Regents, appointed four CU Boulder faculty distinguished professors. A total of 57 faculty have now been named distinguished professors on our campus.

We have staff members who are recognized every year by the Staff Council Excellence Awards for continually surpassing expectations. I'd like to also mention our 2018 Chancellor's Employee of the Year honorees, Rosa Hernandez, Sarah Miller, Jon Sibray and Sharon Van Boven, for their contributions to our mission and the campus community.

Once again, we earned record-research funding: $631 million, as a leading innovation university that is positively impacting humanity.

The future of our campus is taking shape. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have raised millions of dollars in recent years for such transformative student-centered projects as the College of Music addition, rising as we speak; the new Aerospace Engineering Sciences Complex that opened the first day of class; and the business-engineering connector that physically brings together different disciplines.

I want to thank all our donors, who are so important to shaping the future of this university for our students, including Ann Smead and Michael Byram, as well as Paul and Katy Rady, for making the aerospace building possible. I also would like to thank Tandean Rustandy for his important contributions to the Leeds Engineering Connector, and Dr. Patricia Crown and her family for the transformational gift that made our new Renee Crown Wellness Institute possible.

Last year during this speech, I spoke about how our university is addressing many issues here at home and on the national stage. I want to reinforce today that a chief part of my role as Chancellor is demonstrating that CU Boulder, even with challenges, can continue to serve as a top-tier research university, achieving significant global and local impact, and caring about the success of our students.

We are moving toward an exciting future that is defined by new opportunities – as well as increasing emotional and psychological demands, all driven by the accelerating pace of change in society.

I believe we can embrace this dynamic, deepen our support for each other and serve as a leading national model through our innovative culture. We can be a bold public institution true to our name. We can pursue our future by enacting our commitment to furthering the public good. 

We are doing just that by implementing priorities identified by our Academic Futures initiative, and aligning our resources to our mission, through the complementary Financial Futures initiative. You can learn more about these efforts – and how you can get involved – at the tables outside.

This work encourages the passion and engagement of every member of our community. It is sharpening our focus on how we demonstrate our commitment to our people, build upon our collaborative, innovative programs, and deliver on our mission through our positive outcomes.

When we focus on our people we are shaping tomorrow’s leaders. Last May, we conferred more than 8,500 degrees. On our campus, 93 percent of our bachelor’s graduates are employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.

The new Center for Teaching and Learning supports students and faculty in their success. An enhanced first-year experience program will incorporate advising, tutoring, and health and wellness. I will talk more about these in a moment.

We are continuing to see significant year-over-year increases in the diversity and representation of our incoming students. This year we welcomed the most diverse incoming class in our history. We continue our emphasis on making each member of our community feel welcome, included and supported in their success.

And we have more work to do. As we continue our focus on making excellence inclusive, I want to invite you to our campus Diversity and Inclusion Summit Nov.12-13 in this building. Updates will also be shared on the priorities and next steps of the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics Plan – the IDEA plan, as well as complementary efforts at the unit, campus and CU system level. 

When we focus on our programs we are building on our foundation as a top university for innovation. CU Boulder is ranked among the top universities worldwide for our educational quality, faculty and research performance. The Center for World University Rankings named us No. 57 out of 20,000 universities worldwide in August. We have top 10 rankings in innovation, sustainability, aerospace, physics, physical chemistry, ceramics, environmental law and geosciences.

New U.S investment in quantum information science is an endorsement of CU Boulder’s strength in this area. Our CUBit Quantum Initiative, which came together over the past year, partners with regional universities and laboratories, links with quantum-intensive companies, and serves as a hub for workforce development. Our exceptional strength with four Nobel Prizes and pioneers at JILA, makes us a world leader.  

Our educational programs are not confined to our walls. We are educating in all corners of the state, nation and world and in cyberspace. We just launched a new online Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering on the Coursera platform, delivered by our world-class faculty.

When we focus on positive outcomes we positively impact humanity. This includes affordability and access. This fall, with additional funding from the state, Colorado public colleges and universities were able to commit to a zero percent tuition increase for incoming resident freshman and transfer students.

CU Boulder has gone even further with its four-year tuition guarantee, the elimination of course and program fees, and automatic scholarships for high-achieving Colorado residents, transfer students and low-income students. CU as a system offers more campus-funded financial aid to Coloradans than the state of Colorado offers to all its higher-education institutions combined.

As the state’s flagship university, we continue to grow our educational and outreach partnerships across the state. We are expanding statewide access to a CU education. Students in Gunnison or Grand Junction can earn a CU Boulder engineering degree in partnerships with Colorado Mesa and Western Colorado universities. 

To help address a massive shortfall of 3,000 Colorado teachers, especially in rural areas, our School of Education offers guaranteed admission to 11th and 12th graders who are studying to become educators through college readiness courses. We also offer online teacher endorsements in areas of high demand such as special education, as well as other programs. 

This is all transformative work, and I can’t express enough how exciting it is to see us making tangible progress toward the bold future we envision in service to our public mission.

With that said, I want to focus this morning on the importance to our mission of expanding our efforts to create a more holistic, student-centered approach to teaching and learning that prepares students for long-term success.

Students today learn and receive information differently than I did as a graduate of the 60s, and differently than you did. The world has changed and is continuing to change – and so are our students.

Studies show that students today are entrepreneurial, expert multi-taskers and they want to make a difference in the world right away. They are consumers of snack media, they want information quickly, they learn best by doing, and they value individual attention and personal communication.

They are digital natives. They have always known how to zoom, post and swipe. Technology is a given, and it should work well. They were raised on short-form video, tweets and Snapchat. They expect to find and absorb what they are looking for quickly. They expect customized experiences like Amazon, Google and Siri.

The urgency inherent in this tech-driven world can come with its own psychological demands, and it calls for new competencies and skill sets. Today’s students are entering a new technological revolution and it’s our charge to prepare them for this dynamic future. 

They are entering a world of artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, personalized medicine, and the internet of things – in which any device or machine with an on/off switch can be inter-connected. Analysts predict that by next year there will be anywhere from 26 billion to 100 billion connected devices.

We are now preparing students for jobs that currently do not exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems that we haven’t yet realized. 

Devising effective solutions to these problems will increasingly involve the ability to think in an expansive, humanistic context that takes into consideration a broad range of factors. The humanities, as foundational to a college education, offer skills in communication, leadership and adaptability that enhance our ability to define and analyze complex technological and societal problems.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s learners will have 10 to 14 jobs by age 38. The ability to develop new skills, expand knowledge and engage in lifelong learning will be critical to the future workforce in a new digital revolution.

This new world for which we are preparing our students comes with new and increasing pressures to navigate. We know that the strain on students – as well as the rest of us – has changed as our society evolves. Research indicates that the stress experienced by today’s students is different from what we experienced when we were students.

In order for us to position ourselves and our students to lead the way and thrive in the future, we need to elevate our approach to how we prepare them, including support for  their physical and mental health.

Demand for mental health services on college campuses is on the rise, including on our campus. Since 2013, we have seen a 40 percent increase in demand for counseling services, which is in line with campuses nationwide. 

Our students are changing, their needs are changing, and we are changing how we prepare them for success.  

So today I will talk about how we are advancing learning and teaching for students, and our future students.

To accommodate the new ways students learn, we launched our exciting new Program in Exploratory Studies this fall. Additionally, Academic Futures recommended the establishment of a Center for Teaching and Learning, which opened July 1st, under the direction of Art History Professor Kirk Ambrose. It will be a conduit for educational best practices, taking advantage of the excellent work done across campus and elevating those practices on a widespread basis.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Christina Gonzales and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Mary Kraus are implementing new student-success partnerships with our colleges and schools this year. Their priorities are to enhance first-year advising, build a better network for tutoring, centralize the offerings of our writing center, and embed health and wellness services through each college and school.

These steps are critical in demonstrating daily care for students in their academic journeys – and in their lives.

For our graduate students, who play a critical role in our teaching and research mission, we have taken several steps to improve their student experience. This includes increasing stipends, improving health benefits, and reducing fees. Newly appointed Dean of the Graduate School Scott Adler is leading our efforts to identify how we can prioritize additional improvements recommended this summer by a joint student-administrator task force.  

Beyond the collaborations I just mentioned, an initiative led by Student Affairs called  Redefining Student Support, is coming to fruition. It ensures that students are at the center of all we do, and it is designed to help our campus departments work together to engage with students holistically. The key areas of this initiative are student life and engagement, student support and development, and health and wellness.

For example, the Center for Student Involvement connects students with experiences that promote success, personal growth, and community. And Career Development Advisors empower students and alumni to find their career path, and inspire them to positively impact their communities. 

Health and wellness have quickly become vital to our mission as college campuses – and I’m making it a priority on this campus. Helping each student develop a sense of belonging in our community is key, not only to student retention and graduation rates, but to each student’s ability to thrive in their life after their time at CU Boulder.

Transforming the student experience does not rest in one area of our campus; it is the responsibility of us all.

This challenge demands immediacy, and we are coming together across campus to meet it. Jennifer McDuffie, Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, will talk more about this in a moment. 

We have begun to engage students about campus health and wellness services from the moment they confirm their enrollment.

We continuously adjust and upgrade our services to meet the needs and demands of students in their psychological, emotional and physical health.

We have expanded our suite of counseling services. We have added wellness coaches in residence halls and peer support groups. 

We see this work all across campus. The CU Police Department has joined a campaign of the International Association of Police Chiefs to promote mental health awareness among police officers in their interactions with students.

Athletics, too, has taken a leadership role in mental health, addressing time-demands placed on student-athletes. Student-athletes also have created a peer-to-peer group called Bolder Buffs. I would like to recognize student-athletes Paxton Smith with our track and field team, and Evan Battey with men’s basketball, for their efforts with Bolder Buffs. Paxton and Evan are with us today. Thank you both for your important work.

You may be wondering, what can I do as an individual? You can take initiative to look out for the health and welfare of students and your colleagues.

To help our students succeed, we also have to take care of ourselves. If you, or someone you know, is struggling, I urge you to take advantage of The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, which offers free emotional and psychological services to CU Boulder faculty and staff.

Student Affairs launched an initiative in August to help faculty and staff recognize and help students in distress. Its Red Folder initiative is a website that provides information on how to recognize and respond to signs of distress, and how to refer students to campus resources.

We also have joined a national suicide prevention campaign called #Be The 1 To, where we are reaching out and educating students about knowing what to do if they, or someone they know, is struggling, and how to get help.

Student Affairs offers training for faculty and staff and last year it began the Supporting Student Resiliency professional development series, which helps faculty and staff with skills to engage students.

I also want to commend our CU Student Government leaders for their initiative this fall to provide mental health resources for our off-campus students.

Please look for information on the tables outside on how to access these programs as we continue to enhance our efforts in this critical area for our students and future students. 

We are not alone in our efforts. Many colleges and universities across the country are focusing on improving health, wellness and the entire student experience.

The Association of American Universities, an organization of top research universities, where I serve on the board of directors, is advocating for students in areas of access and affordability, federal student aid, safe learning environments, Title IX regulations, DACA and immigration issues.

The Pac 12 Conference, where I chair the CEO group, is focused on student-athlete  health and wellness. The Pac 12 and CU are among the best in the nation in making student-athlete health and wellness a top priority. Our Pac 12 CEO group earlier this year approved $1 million in annual funding for on-campus mental health services. This will go directly to member schools for student athletes.  

Our Pac 12 CEO group also approved millions of dollars for campus research projects on concussions, injury prevention and other important areas.

The university’s fifth president, George Norlin, said, We can light the way, if we all hold a candle.

The university seal depicts a torch in the hands of youth. One day our youth will light our way. Right now we can light their way through innovative student success and health and wellness programs. We should be student-centered every day, whether that is in their lives or in the classroom.  

So, before you leave, please look to your right and look to your left and remember:  We are all here to care for each other – and especially for our students – as we embrace the future before us.

Students are the future of our university – and well-rounded, well-adjusted, well-educated students are the future of our society.

As a community, we can light the way for a future that is changing how we prepare our students for adaptability, resiliency and a new world ahead. Thank you.

Now I would like to introduce our panelists who will offer different perspectives on how we prepare our students for the future:

  • Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jennifer McDuffie oversees the health and wellness of our students. She has 15 years experience in higher education in several leadership roles and she is leading our health and wellness initiatives.
  • Katherine Eggert is Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning & Assessment. She leads evaluation of academic programs and curricula across campus.mWorking with departments and the Regents, Katherine coordinates the planning, proposal, and implementation of new undergraduate and graduate degree programs. She has taught at CU Boulder since receiving her PhD from Cal-Berkeley in 1991.
  • Graduate School Dean Scott Adler came to CU Boulder in 1996 as a professor of political science, served as department chair and founded the American Politics Research Lab. This summer, he was appointed dean of the Graduate School.

Please help me welcome our panel.