Boulder Economic Council Summit Welcome

May 17, 2016

Welcome. CU-Boulder is once again pleased to be the presenting sponsor for the Boulder Economic Council Summit. My thanks to the Boulder Chamber and the Boulder Economic Council for their continued partnership with the university.

I’m pleased to say that 10 days ago, we graduated 5,983 students with flexible skills and the ability to learn and adapt to changing job demands and environments.

Ninety-five percent of our graduates enter the workforce within six months of graduating. They are creative thinkers and problem solvers in a global economy regardless of their degree. These are the kind of employees that will always be your best value. You want a person who can think and grow with your company.

Lisa Lovett, our assistant director for Employer Development in our Career Services Department, specializes in connecting employers to qualified students and graduates. She’s on one of the panels today and certainly she would enjoy being a resource for you.

It’s notable that 14 percent of all jobs in Boulder County are STEM jobs. That places Boulder County third in the nation for STEM jobs (144 per 1,000 jobs), according to These are well-paying jobs, averaging $92,000 a year, that feed the local economy.

As many of you know, CU-Boulder is well-prepared to support this employee sector. Thirty-nine percent of our nearly 6,000 graduates this month were in a STEM discipline. That’s more than 2,300 STEM graduates this spring prepared to join the workforce. That number has gone up significantly in the last 10 years. (39 percent STEM graduates compared to 26 percent in 2006).

However, the beauty of being a comprehensive public research university is that we offer 150 fields of study, including 33 concurrent bachelor’s-master’s degree programs.

We continue to grow our partnerships with individual businesses to develop or expand programs, certifications and degrees to better serve their employee needs.  If you have specific needs, please contact Caroline Himes in our Office for Industry Collaboration.

I am pleased to say that the quality of our incoming students also continues to rise. We have had several consecutive years with record-breaking applications. For the third consecutive year, we are expecting our best-qualified, most diverse freshman class this fall.

I expect that trend to continue especially with our new guarantee of four years of fixed tuition for resident students, along with our Esteemed Scholars Program, which provides automatic grants to in-state students who have high test scores and GPAs.

We work to keep the best and brightest here in Colorado for college – and in Boulder, or the state, for their careers. Right now, 65 percent of our graduates stay in Colorado. Considering that we import 45 percent of students from out of state, it’s fair to say we are keeping more than we are giving back in terms of a talented, educated workforce.

Growing opportunity through entrepreneurship and innovation

To build more jobs in Colorado, CU-Boulder’s objective is to be the leading public university for entrepreneurship and innovation. We want every student, staff and faculty member to have access to entrepreneurial resources on campus. We are driving a culture of innovation across the campus, and we want to tie in closely with the entrepreneurial community along the Front Range.

Our New Venture Challenge is an ideal example of how this works. The New Venture Challenge is a cross-campus business-plan competition that attracts students from every discipline to compete for start-up prize money. More than 1,000 students and members of the Boulder community got involved in the New Venture Challenge this year.

Forty-two new companies from the CU-Boulder campus got help from the New Venture Challenge this year -  companies from all corners of the campus, including music, aerospace, computer science and environmental design.

Several companies emerging from the New Venture Challenge over the past couple of years have gone on to the Techstars startup accelerator and attracted over $3 million in investment dollars.

Catalyze CU is another example of how the university supports engagement between our innovators and the local entrepreneurial community. This is a joint effort to launch and sustain local startups. Catalyze CU is a nine-week startup accelerator for students, faculty and staff that provides world-class mentorships from local entrepreneurs.

By preparing student entrepreneurs to successfully compete for venture capital we continually add new talent, skills and momentum to the growth of Boulder as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurial activity, which in turn helps attract investment dollars. 

The need for affordable housing

In terms of available and affordable housing, we share the challenges that the community is facing. Your problem is our problem. More housing and more affordable housing would help the university with recruiting – both students and faculty/staff – and would help our bright young graduates stay in the local workforce.

We house between 26 to 28 percent of our students and have been growing our own campus housing as our enrollment grows. Over the past 10 years we have added 1,214 beds to the campus and continue to review how we can expand.

Our on-going space utilization program will help us use our space more efficiently even as we refurbish and look at options to build more housing.

We are in discussions with the city of Boulder about how we could build some housing for our faculty and staff. But in the short term we, like the community at large, find ourselves challenged by the housing market.

It’s our great pleasure once again to welcome you to campus for this terrific annual event. We look forward to working with you -  our local business and civic leaders, the Boulder Chamber and the Boulder Economic Council to address these important challenges of our time, for today and the future of this great community.