Welcome. Thank you for coming. I think we have an exciting and interesting 40-minute program in store for you. We are always interested in sharing with the community what we are doing on campus and so I am glad each of you could join us.

First, one quick boast. Week before last U.S. News & World Report ranked our geosciences programs No. 2 in the world behind only Cal-Tech. Geosciences at CU includes geology, geophysics, geochemistry, climatology, oceanography and petroleum geology.

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano gives a state of the campus to the Boulder community at eTown, followed by a presentation on CU-Boulder's excursion to Mars

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano gives a state of the campus to the Boulder community at eTown, followed by a presentation on CU-Boulder's excursion to Mars.

This ranking joins our No. 1 national ranking in atomic, molecular and optical physics. In fact we have seven graduate programs in the Top 10 now. I bring this up because I am often told that our own community does not know that CU-Boulder is among the Top 20 research universities in the country and has many high ranking programs competing with the likes of Cal-Tech, Berkeley and MIT.

We are very proud of these rankings, and are working hard to sustain and advance them. As you can imagine, CU-Boulder can be a complex place to manage with almost 30,000 students, a little more than 4,000 faculty and just over 3,600 staff. We have over 6,000 students, primarily freshmen, living on campus. Twenty percent of our students come from under-represented communities and we have made a commitment to attract the best students regardless of their incomes. Our international student population represents 26 countries and numbers 2,152.

Whether you are a student from Mongolia or Mancos, China or Cheyenne Wells, our increasing geographic diversity makes CU-Boulder truly a global crossroad. This broadens the base of understanding among all students about their neighbors in the world. The academic standing of our incoming freshman class continues to rise, but I am also pleased to say that their civic-mindedness is increasing as well. On their first Saturday in college this fall more than 600 participated in the second annual Buff Day of Service at 17 Boulder County sites, including ongoing flood cleanup.

The success of our students is one of the three primary goals I have outlined for the campus.

I will spend the next 15 or 20 minutes talking about our strategic initiatives related to this goal and then turn it over to Professor David Brain to tell you about a key example of our research success, our historic mission to Mars, MAVEN.

Title IX

Important to the success of our students is an open and engaging campus climate and culture. As many of you know there is a national call to make our nations campuses safer and to better enforce Title IX, including sexual assault, discrimination and harassment.

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance. We want to be a national model for compliance. Last summer I appointed education and civil rights attorney Valerie Simons as Title IX Coordinator, a new position on our campus reporting directly to me, to streamline our oversight and ensure we are a national leader in this area.

We are working to create a more welcoming and supportive climate for all students in residence halls, social programs, campus activities, and all the offices that provide student services.

We have also created a new model for helping students from diverse backgrounds, including first-generation students, which is near and dear to my heart as a first generation student myself.

I have initiated the development of a diversity and inclusion plan to create a common understanding of CU-Boulders vision, mission and strategic goals regarding diversity and inclusive excellence for our students, faculty and staff. Tomorrow is our annual diversity summit on campus sponsored with the city and county of Boulder and I invite you all to attend at the University Memorial Center at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Our keynote speaker is Carlotta Walls Lanier, one of the Little Rock Nine children who changed the course of history in our country. If you want more information just go to our website and look under events.


We feel that a welcoming environment for everyone is vital to support our students academically so that they will persist in their studies and graduate in a timely fashion. Right now we lead the state's public universities with a 6-year graduation rate of nearly 70 percent. We want it to be 80 percent by 2020. That starts with this year's freshman class.

A lot of people ask why is graduation rate measured in six years? Why not four? Because six years is the federal reportable standard metric spelled out in the 1990 Student Right to Know Act.

To give you a baseline, there are only 31 institutions across the country with a six-year graduation of 90 percent or better graduation rate and only six of those are public universities, according to U.S. News and World Report's National Universities category.

Why is it important to increase our graduation rate? First, we have a moral imperative to our students and their families to minimize their cost of education and their student debt. But there are other reasons as well:

  • It is incumbent upon us to provide a skilled workforce to support business and the economy.
  • The quality of our students will go up with more students successfully graduating
  • The reputation of our institution will go up
  • Our ranking among our top-level research university peers will improve
  • It is a better utilization of resources to retain than to attract a new student

To ensure we attract the best students, last year we launched a four-year scholarship for Colorado's best students: the Esteemed Scholars program.

  • It was designed to keep the state's best and brightest here in Colorado as our next generation of civic and business leaders, scientists, teachers and artists.
  • To make us competitive with out-of-state universities recruiting our state's best students
  • And to give us higher quality students
    • Over the last two years it helped us secure nearly 1,700 of the state's best and brightest on campus

To increase our graduation rate we must retain the students we have. On average, we consistently lose 16 percent of any entering freshman class by the start of their second year. So we have put several initiatives in place to retain our freshmen.

Our faculty has launched a new Student-Faculty Mentorship Program

  • 1,700 freshmen signed up to be mentored by 150 faculty have on topics such as time management, study skills, test preparation and being part of the community.

Significantly changing our approach to advising

  • A single advising IT platform based on the Salesforce.com software, so that all student and university information is available consistently to students and their advisors at the touch of a button and ... Better yet, on their iPhones
  • More advisors
  • Evening advising at Norlin Library Monday-Thursday—when students are awake, and
  • Drop in hours consistent across all colleges

Enhancing the student experience

We are also responding to market forces, making CU degrees more responsive and innovative to support our students in their careers.

The newest among these efforts is the College of Media, Communication and Information, set to open next fall. Its been praised by industry as forward thinking, relevant and dynamic in the constantly changing new-media environment. It incorporates the Department of Communication and the former School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It will offer 12 new and reconfigured degrees responsive to the interests of students and the needs of industry.

And in this town, where would we be if we did not make Entrepreneurship a key factor in student success, connecting them to local business, the community, and the economy. Forbes magazine named CU-Boulder a Top 20 Entrepreneurial University last summer. This came three months after the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced a $3 million grant to the Law Schools Silicon Flatirons Center to create an entrepreneurial network to support Colorado in developing high-growth companies with potential to create new jobs.

We already had well-established and well-respected entrepreneurial entities like the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship in the Leeds School of Business, the New Venture Challenge business competition, and our cross-campus entrepreneurship certificate that applies to any major.

We have recently added Catalyze CU-Boulder, our new business accelerator program for students; and Spark Boulder, a co-working space and innovation hub founded by students and located on the Hill. Clearly students, faculty and staff embody this entrepreneurial spirit. Members of these entrepreneurial groups are currently looking at how we can coalesce our efforts to make a bigger impact on the community, the state, the economy and the success of our students.

Top-ranked research university

Research itself is an entrepreneurial activity. Leiden University in the Netherlands ranks CU-Boulder No. 14 among 500 universities worldwide for scholarly citations and research impact. It is important that we remain a Top 20 research university. It's important to the success of our students, our revenue and our reputation.

Cutting-edge knowledge generated from research is migrated to students in the classroom and the lab where they have the opportunity to work directly with researchers.

Research innovations spin out new companies that support the economy. CU-Boulder has spun out an average of five new companies a year since 2000, including four in the last fiscal year. We are seeing more students co-founding these companies.

Research supports the Boulder community. When Boulder was named a Top 5 city in patent production in a Brookings Institution report in 2013, the reasons cited were the presence of a research university, a highly educated and scientifically trained workforce, and an atmosphere of collaboration.

Overview of CU aerospace and space science programs

As many of you know, one of CU's primary research programs is aerospace and space sciences. We are NASA's top-funded public university, and we have been for several years. With our high level of funding, our long-standing partnerships in the space industry, and our highly-ranked aerospace and space-sciences programs — CU-Boulder is in a unique position to fulfill a pivotal role in continuing to grow and transform Colorados aerospace and space sciences economy.

Our Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department and our other engineering disciplines- electrical, mechanical, computer — are training the next generation of engineers and scientists. CU graduates work at NASA, Boeing, Raytheon, United Launch Alliance, Ball Aerospace DigitalGlobe and Sierra Nevada to name a few. Approximately one-third of the engineering staff at Lockheed Martin earned one of their degrees from CU.

We're well equipped to advance these space-based technologies with our great diversity of programs: particularly in collaboration with our geosciences program I mentioned, plus Dr. Brain's home turf: the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and the Dept. of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. I might mention that they have trained more than 120 students on the science related to the MAVEN project.

We all know that the new space economy is more than rocket ships. Today, space impacts our lives on a daily basis from communication to navigation. Satellite imaging provides everything from the maps on our smart phones to Geographic Information Systems for fighting forest fires and documenting climate change.

We can help Colorado and Boulder County become the center for utilizing space-based technologies to effectively manage the interaction of society and our planet to build a successful future for coming generations.

Mission to Mars

Our mission to Mars is a good example of studying the atmosphere of that planet to inform us about the management of ours. Economically, nearly half the $671 million NASA contract for our MAVEN mission to Mars was returned to the Colorado economy. We partnered with Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and Exelis. Tonight, we're excited to have Professor Brain share the MAVEN story with you. Its not just our story, it's Colorado's story.

That's a quick primer on what's going on at CU this fall and I'm glad for the opportunity to share it with you. Thank you for coming, and please enjoy Professor Brain's presentation on MAVEN.