With the fall semester well underway, I wanted to provide an update to where CU Boulder stands in the higher education landscape.
We are in a world today in which higher education is being challenged. We are challenged on affordability, the value of a degree and the relevance of research.
Further, as a society we find ourselves in a high-speed environment of change. We are experiencing rapid change in technology, social climate and global disruption – all creating mental stresses. We see that directly in our community, including our students. The effect of these stresses is increasingly a national and global health issue.
And we are in an environment of being 48th in state funding for higher education. Few know that state funding accounts for only 5 percent of CU Boulder’s budget.
As Colorado’s flagship campus, we have committed to being in a constant state of innovation to meet these challenges. I talked about this and more in my annual State of Campus address earlier this month.
We are addressing affordability with a four-year tuition guarantee, the elimination of course and program fees that began this fall, and automatic scholarships for high-achieving Colorado resident, transfer and low-income students. The state plays a critical role in affordability, and we will continue to work with the state to increase aid for our resident students.
By all measures a CU Boulder degree is valuable. Six months after graduation, 92 percent of CU Boulder graduates are employed, in graduate school or serving in the military. A four-year degree improves mental wellness, overall health, and earnings. Further, it lowers unemployment and debt default rates.
Our research is impacting humanity and advancing society in unprecedented ways, bringing in a record half billion dollars in sponsored research funding last year.
The result has been non-perishable vaccines, data-gathering drones that fly into the vortex of a tornado to increase warning times, prosthetics that can be reformed to fit different people, a coating for buildings to replace air conditioners, a Band-Aid stethoscope gathering continuous physiological data that can be read in real time by doctors at distant medical facilities, robots that do chores for the homebound and 3D printed artificial arteries.
This nation relies on its research institutions like CU to advance the health, welfare, safety, culture, security and technology of its citizens.
As a society we are seeing mental health stress caused by increased speed and complexity of change, technology, social climate and geo-politics.
Demand for mental health services on college campuses is on the rise, including at CU Boulder. Since 2013, we have seen a 40 percent increase in demand for counseling services, which is in line with campuses nationwide.
As a campus we are engaging students about campus mental health and services from the moment they confirm their enrollment, and we are expanding our suite of services. New services include walk-in appointments, unlimited workshops and group sessions, crisis intervention and one-on-one counseling and therapy.
We are addressing these challenges here at home and on the national stage and CU Boulder can be a leading model for solutions through our innovative culture. Whether you’re student, faculty, staff member, alumnus or community member, we welcome your interest and involvement in CU Boulder’s future. I will provide you with more updates about our campus progress throughout the year. Stay tuned and Go Buffs!
Philip P. DiStefano,