Welcome. Thank you for coming.

Many of you know that when CU opened in 1877, the entire university was housed in this building. All 44 students attended class here. The president and his family were housed here.

It’s popular folklore that the stairs were built so steeply so the cows wouldn’t wander in when this was the sole building on a windswept plain.

We’ve come a long way in the 136 years since the university opened. So it’s appropriate to gather in the building that symbolizes the university’s heritage to talk about how far we have come this year.

First, I would like to acknowledge:

  • Yvonne
  • Regents Steve Bosley and Sue Sharkey
  • Mayor Matt Applebaum and several members of the City Council.
  • And I'd also like to welcome several other people in the audience, representing the Chamber, the business community, Boulder Valley School District, and Boulder County.
  • Also with us today is Britni Hernandez, outgoing CU Student Government president. Our student government leaders were great to work with.   They were both proactive and collaborative as they addressed campus issues and challenges.

I would like to take a moment to recognize our impressive showing in the U.S. News and World Report graduate program rankings.

We learned last month that 6 graduate programs are rated in the Top 10. This includes the atomic, molecular and optical physics program, tied at No. 1 with MIT! Another 29 CU-Boulder graduate programs are also nationally ranked.

It’s a credit to all of you, that we continue to be recognized in the face of all our challenges.

Our campus has joined together this year on several fronts.

I want to acknowledge everyone’s hard work. I recognize everyone has been doing more with less for a few years, as we have confronted declining state funding, a recession and now federal-funding threats.

Finally, classified staff is getting a long-deserved pay increase that includes a 2 percent cost-of-living increase, with up to 1.6 percent based upon merit.

As you know, the Board of Regents last week approved an 8.7 percent tuition increase for the Boulder campus. The board also approved merit increases for faculty and staff of up to 3.1 percent. In doing so, the regents recognize the importance of retaining our best and brightest faculty and staff.

Our campus continues to flourish because of all of your hard work, and I want to thank each of you. You own the advances we have made this year as a campus.

Today, I am pleased to update you on our tremendous progress since my State of Campus address in October.

Last fall I announced the creation of a Strategic Advisory Council that draws from top industry leaders in the external community.

The council will help identify campus innovations in:

  • Operating efficiently
  • Generating new funding sources,
  • Creating new research partnerships,
  • And building and sustaining CU-Boulder’s reputation in Colorado and the nation.

Today, it is my pleasure to announce the 11 members of the Strategic Advisory Council.

  • Norm Augustine is retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin. He is on the boards of several Fortune 500 companies. He is a Regent for the University of Maryland, and is a nationally renowned advocate for higher education.
  • Pamela Drew is corporate vice president and the president of Information Systems of engineering provider, ITT Exelis. She earned her doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees at CU-Boulder, and serves on our Engineering Advisory Council.
  • Brad Feld is co-founder of the Boulder-based Foundry Group, a venture capital firm; and Tech Stars, a start-up accelerator. He is a nationally recognized innovator, who regularly speaks to students, and has worked with our Silicon Flatirons Center and the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • Allison Keller is executive director and chief financial officer of the W.M. Keck Foundation, and she has a long history of service and innovation.
  • Denise O’Leary, is a private investor. She was recently elected to the University of Denver Board of Trustees, and serves on the board of the Bonfils Stanton Foundation.
  • Bill Reinert is a CU-Boulder alumnus, the national manager of the Advanced Technology Group for Toyota Motor Sales USA, and is a regular participant in the Conference on World Affairs.
  • Todd Rulon-Miller, founding partner of Apogee Venture Group, has brought an entrepreneurial spirit to our CU-Boulder Parent Leadership Society as board chair for the last three years. His two sons are seniors at CU.
  • Mark Sirangelo is the head of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems in Louisville, which has called on our students and faculty in developing the Dream Chaser private space vehicle. The Dream Chaser has been a great CU-corporate partnership.
  • Robert Strain is President of Ball Aerospace and Technologies. I’m happy to say, our relationship with Ball goes back more than a half century. Ball originated from one of our earliest tech transfers.
  • Phil Washington is general manager of the Regional Transportation District. He is leading one of the most dynamic transit agencies in North America, and implementing one of the largest transit expansions in the nation through a unique public-private partnership.
  • Earl Wright is Chair of the board and executive committee of AMG National Trust Bank. He served on the advisory board that identified and selected our inaugural Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy.

You can read more about all of them on my web site, but briefly, we have some heavy hitters. They come from industry and non-profits, all meeting challenges of dynamic change in their organizations and industries. Some come from fiscally challenging situations in which they have been successful.

They are innovators in their fields, and to use a baseball analogy, as this season gets underway, they hit for a high average.

Why are they helping us out? Because they are attracted by the challenges that public higher education faces in an era of transformation. They realize the stakes are high but the potential rewards are great.

I have asked these industry leaders to work with us in three ways:

  • Advance the educational experience of our students to maximize their success at the university and, ultimately, in the workforce.
  • Enhance the global stature of CU-Boulder as a comprehensive national research university and collaborator with industry.
  • and Help us create a sustainable fiscal and organizational model, looking at methods to maximize our effectiveness and efficiency.

We will begin meeting with this group this summer and work with them over the next year plus.

As you know, fundraising is a critical component to our financial health and to the future of the university.

As such, the President initiated a study with the goal of significantly increasing fundraising capabilities. The consultants he engaged will provide their analysis and recommendations shortly.

This work is giving us insight, and will help us to achieve the private fundraising goal of at least $100 million annually we announced last fall--up from about $50 million.

We also have established a goal of doubling the Boulder campus endowment of $430 million in the next four or five years. The three largest designated uses of our endowment are endowed chairs, endowed professorships, and scholarships.

Success in increasing fundraising is dependent upon everyone working as a team, our high-quality outreach to alumni and friends, and better partnering with foundations and corporations.

The foundation and the campus are exploring and deploying new social media and other strategies to increase fundraising and the number of alumni who give back to the university.

We intend to build upon early successes in new configurations in our foundation development teams. For instance, a new Music, Arts and Culture grouping is raising more money for those areas this year than ever before in a single year.

Now I want to turn to other areas where we can develop revenue sources.  Last fall I spoke of working together more proactively with business and industry to generate industrial research contracts to further diversify our funding.

Right now when it comes to research revenue, we are largely dependent on federally sponsored research, which is threatened by federal budget stalemates in Washington, D.C.

Last year our research portfolio was approximately $360 million from federal and state sources, and only $20 million from industry.

Like the best research universities among our peers, we aspire to generate $100 million from industry contracts.

In response, we have created a new Industry Initiative team that is a collaborative effort between several units.

The members include:

  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Patricia Rankin
  • Caroline Himes, Administrative Director at LASP
  • Denitta Ward, Office of Contracts and Grants
  • Comptroller Laura Ragin
  • And the Office of Technology Transfer

While industry contracts are among the most complex to negotiate because of issues of intellectual property, non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses, they also offer flexibility on what we can charge from government’s fixed rate.

I have tasked the Industry Initiative team with simplifying the process of connecting industry with our intellectual capital. This includes testing products on CU equipment, engaging campus technical staff and making use of CU's expertise. This will partner the university with industry more readily; build research, and benefit industry, the economy and the campus.

We are continuing to bring faculty into the broader discussion. Bruce Eaton, a faculty member from chemistry and biochemistry will chair the faculty advisory group.

I would like to take a minute now to discuss the federal side of our research funding.

In the United States there are more than 2,700 four-year and graduate not-for-profit colleges and universities. Approximately 250 of those are considered to be highly research active.   From this cohort, it is interesting to note that over half of our nation's university research productivity comes from only 25 universities.   And CU is No. 22.

Further, a 2010 study in the journal, Science,showed19 American universities generate about half of U.S. research citations. CU-Boulder is No. 8 on that list.

This demonstrates the high quality and success of our faculty. But we are now entering a much more competitive environment. Due to sequestration, research universities are already seeing smaller research contracts going to fewer institutions.

We anticipate that research funding, as a discretionary item in the federal budget, will continue to be under pressure for several years to come.

We must be smarter about how we engage with the federal government so we can effectively compete. Stanford University president John Hennessy recently opined there should be fewer research institutions.

He is probably right.

So our goal must be to remain in the Top 25. We will do that in part by bolstering the work of our faculty in the halls of Washington, D.C., through our government relations staff and lobbyists on the ground there.

We will also do it by bringing to campus, heads of federal agencies and government departments, as well as our Congressional delegation, so they can see our outstanding work first hand.

Even though the size of the federal funding pie is being reduced, we feel confident our slice will not diminish greatly because of our highly competitive track record for research awards.

We also need to remain highly vigilant and take an active role in heading off efforts to constrict the kind of research we do.

For instance, earlier this month, Congress passed an amendment to the budget bill banning the National Science Foundation from funding political science research, unless it focuses on national security or the economy. This funding equates to about $11 million a year nationally.

We must continue to work with the Association of American Universities and other national organizations to bring universities together to fight off efforts to limit certain types of research, based on the popular mood of the moment.

We also will watch the impact of federal budget negotiations on students’ access to higher education. For now, Federal Pell grants are protected, but some student aid and work-study grants may be cut.

To emphasize, it’s increasingly important to be competitive and innovative in research proposals, and as I mentioned earlier, it will be critical to engage in partnerships with industry.

I want to take a minute to talk about one of the best examples we have on this campus of the benefits of long-term research and development.  I’m referring to the scheduled launch in November of the newest Mars explorer, MAVEN.

MAVEN--the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission--is the largest research contract in our history at $485 million. It’s NASA’s first mission to study Mars’ upper atmosphere.

Bruce Jakosky, associate director for science at LASP, is the principal investigator.

  We are providing the science operations, the space instruments and the public education outreach for the mission.

MAVEN has created multiple jobs across the country in the aerospace industry and has added to the research prowess of the United States.

I also spoke in the fall about how higher education is entering a transformative era of massive open online courses or MOOCs.

In February we announced to the Regents we have contracted with Coursera and will begin offering four MOOCs courses this fall.

Coursera allows top-tier universities to make select courses available--for free-- to hundreds of thousands of students worldwide.

About 35 universities from the U.S. and internationally are now using Coursera, which has reached more than 2 million students across the globe. Our peers contracting with Coursera include Duke, Stanford and the University of Washington. It’s a tremendous way to show the expertise and academic variety that CU-Boulder has to offer.

A faculty committee is working with faculty from Engineering and Arts and Sciences in the area of physics and computer science to get the courses up and running.

At this moment, the courses to be offered are:

  • Intro to Physics
  • Linear Programming
  • Power Electronics
  • And to show our creative side: Graphic Novels and Comics.

More than 22,500 people have already enrolled.

Presently no credit is associated with these courses but we anticipate credit will eventually be offered.

We have a team evaluating how MOOCs will affect us and how we participate in the future.

It’s important to join our peers, get experience, and learn the process so we can operate effectively and competitively in this new arena.

I want to update you on a few other important items that have been in the news this semester.

We are pleased to have Steven Hayward as our inaugural Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy, who will begin this fall. This privately funded program will spark further debate, discourse and critical thinking among our students. More than 20 donors contributed $1 million to support the program.

Dr. Hayward will teach in both the fall and spring semesters, and will likely host public events on campus and perhaps around the state. He is tentatively scheduled to teach 4 undergraduate courses: 3 in political science and one in environmental studies. We look forward to working with him.

In February we presented a plan for athletics facilities upgrades to the Board of Regents--a plan that relies on donor support to get started. No tuition, fees or state funding will be used. The project relies on fundraising, Pac-12 athletic revenues and our own ticket revenues.   All of this will take some time to put in place.

The improvements will be implemented in phases. The first phase reflects our dedication to our young athletes as students first with construction of the academic center. Future phases will improve the experience of our fans and provide better athletic facilities for students and student athletes. The upgrades require Regent approval, and we expect to bring initial plans to the board in December.

Finally let’s talk about our biggest source of revenue, our enrollment.

Fundamental to our future success as a Top 25 research university, is attracting the best and brightest students. But the competitive landscape for top students has changed. Out-of–state universities are making strong bids for our top resident students with competitive financial aid packages.

In response we employed new recruiting strategies, including a new merit scholarship for high-achieving resident students called the Esteemed Scholars Program. We invested $2 million in the program. The scholarships are at three levels and award top Colorado students up to $20,000 over 4 years, based on high-school GPA and test scores.

Many people have banded together to encourage our top-admitted students to enroll. Deans and faculty members have written letters to admitted students. The Vice Chancellors and I personally called top-admitted students, reaching 300 of them in one night last month.   Regents Steve Bosley and Irene Griego joined us in making those calls.

Student leaders took time out of their busy schedules to call under-represented admitted students, encouraging them to enroll. And Admissions has called more than 4,500 admitted students.

This has been a great, unified outreach effort from all corners of campus and illustrates a collective effort for our common goals.

This is not a singular effort. We are committed to recruiting top-quality students on an ongoing basis. We want them to know CU’s value before they make an enrollment decision. As a team, we need to recognize that this effort must be stepped up even more next year to remain competitive.

As I speak of high-achieving students, it reminds us that in just three weeks, 6,084 students will graduate, and many of them are top-notch.   Top students elevate the lives of all students, faculty and the entire university community through classroom engagement, service and leadership.

This spring’s graduating class includes:

  • 11 Boettcher Scholars
  • 19 Norlin Scholars
  • 2 Goldwater Scholars, which is often called the nation’s premier scholarship for math, science and engineering.
  • and 11 graduates in the President’s Leadership Class (2 are going into Teach for America, 7 are headed to graduate programs and 2 are going to medical school)

This year the Air Force ROTC Onizuka Squadron won Best Medium Sized Squadron in the Nation. That’s on the heels of the Army ROTC winning one of 8 MacArthur Awards, as one of the nation’s best.

As a campus, we have aspired to give all of our students a life-long love of learning, and we have empowered them to lead the way with their youthful light.Faculty and staff have guided and mentored these graduates, sharing their time, knowledge and expertise to help each student reach this important milestone and their full potential.

So today, I would like to encourage faculty to come to commencement May 10 and sit with students--sit with your favorite student--in a show of support.

It has been a rewarding year. As we continue to make progress toward our goals, I want to extend my most sincere appreciation to all of you, for all you do, for this great University.

Through your devotion, energy and efforts, we continue to make progress and to reach unprecedented new heights.

I am confident that by continuing to work together, we can succeed in making the University of Colorado Boulder the New Flagship University for the 21st Century, and one of the most productive and influential research universities in the nation.

Thank you.