Welcome, thank you for being here this morning.

I'd like to acknowledge the Jazz Quartet we have enjoyed this morning. As Dean Shay says, jazz musicians don't usually get up this early. We have:

  • Anisha Rush on saxophone
  • Walter Gorra on piano
  • Adam Sammakia on bass
  • And B.K. Kahn on drums

Let's give them a round of applause.


  • My wife, Yvonne, is with us
  • Regents Irene Griego and Steve Bosley

I'd like to welcome all of you who are watching online as well as those of you watching from the CU System office in Denver. Thank you for taking time out of your day to join me.

Every October when I stand before you to deliver the state of our campus, we are fortunate as a campus community to have a major international faculty award to celebrate. Last year it was Ana Maria Rey winning our eighth MacArthur Fellowship. The year before it was David Wineland winning our fifth Nobel Prize.

Since we gathered for the State of the Campus last fall, Steven Pollock was named a U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, recognizing the most outstanding undergraduate teachers in the country. Professor Pollock will you please stand? Let's give him a round of applause.

And Peter Molnar was awarded the highly prestigious Crafoord Prize in Geosciences by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his groundbreaking research in geophysics and geological sciences. This international prize honors groundbreaking achievement in fields not covered by Nobel Prizes. Professor Molnar sends his regrets that he could not be with us today as he is away on travel.

Every year for six years now at the State of the Campus I have been blessed with the opportunity to review with you the successes of this great campus. Year-in and year-out this university's extraordinary faculty and students can be relied upon to do phenomenal research that solves critical problems and advances humanity. And every year, our faculty and staff work incredibly hard to ensure that all of our students can each achieve their full potential.


Let me take a few moments to review key successes over the past year. Just over three weeks ago, CU-Boulder with NASA, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, UC-Berkeley and Exelis, placed a spacecraft into orbit around Mars after a 10-month journey from Earth. The MAVEN Mars orbiter was conceived and developed right here at our Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Geological sciences professor Bruce Jakosky is its principal investigator. CU-Boulder is in charge of all the science research operations.

Besides the compelling science it will produce, MAVEN is an illustration of our three campus priorities many of you have heard me talking about over the last year: student success, new revenue generation and advancing our reputation. With 150 graduate and undergraduate students contributing to the development and science operations of MAVEN before the mission is completed, it certainly is an example of student success. Many of these students will go onto rewarding careers in aerospace and stay in Colorado to contribute to one of the state's most important industries.

Without a doubt, MAVEN illustrates revenue generation. When NASA awarded CU-Boulder the contract for $671 million, it was the biggest in our history, and still is. Nearly half of that was returned to the Colorado economy through our Colorado partners in the project. Lockheed Martin in Littleton built the craft and is operating the mission control center. United Launch Alliance in Centennial launched it and Exelis is in charge of deep-space communications. A year ago I told you of my goals to increase our industry partnerships. MAVEN is an example of that.

MAVEN has further heightened our reputation as an international leader in space research. It generated more than 1,800 news stories in the national and international media in the month of September alone and many more when it launched last November.

You have likely heard a lot about MAVEN, but as you know, it's not the only thing we've done around here this year. The new College of Media, Communication and Information, approved by the Board of Regents last June, is our first new college in 50 years, and will open next fall. It's been praised far-and-wide by the media 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 approved by the Regents last month.

The formation of this new college demonstrates that as a campus we can be collaborative and creative in our response to both the needs of our students and the needs of an industry that continues to reinvent itself. Chris Braider, who has done a tremendous job overseeing the creation of the new college, is serving as interim dean this year while a national search for the dean is underway.

Something else we can be proud of: our new freshman class. This fall we welcomed the best-prepared and most-diverse class in our history. Let me paint a quick picture of this record-setting freshman class.

They number 5,869. Their average college entrance exam score was 26.8 for the ACT, 1180 for the SAT, and the average GPA was 3.58 — all-time highs. The class includes nearly 900 Esteemed Scholars. This merit scholarship for resident students is designed to compete with our increasingly aggressive out-of-state competitors who want Colorado's best students.

This class is also our most diverse. One-quarter of freshmen are under-represented students, a new high. Overall, on our campus, we now have 6,000 under-represented degree-seeking students — 20 percent of the student body, also a record.

We're making the investment to attract the best students regardless of their incomes, through programs such as CU Promise, now serving nearly 1,000 of Colorado's lowest-income students who are academically qualified. That's an expansion of more than 700 students from last year, fulfilling a promise I made at a White House summit last winter to increase college opportunity.

While we're making investments in Colorado, our International Initiative is paying off too. We recruited in 26 countries and yielded 386 international freshmen. Overall international student enrollments have grown by nearly 60 percent in four years to 2,152, approaching our goal of 10 percent of the student population.

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. Studying, learning, and sharing knowledge together prepares our students for work and collaboration in a global society.

Many of our new freshmen also have a strong service ethic. On their first Saturday in college more than 600 participated in the second annual Buff Day of Service at 17 Boulder County sites, including ongoing flood cleanup. You may have noticed the pictures up on the screen earlier this morning showing the Buff Day of Service organized by Student Affairs.

One of the key attractions of our campus for freshmen is the growing success of our Office of Career Services in bringing more, diverse employment opportunities to our students. It is now internationally recognized as a central hub for the successful preparation and marketing of new college graduates. In fact its director, Lisa Severy, is on a Fulbright in France studying international opportunities for students.

Career Services has been doing great work creating job opportunities for our students. Last year, more than 3,000 organizations posted well over 9,000 positions for students and alumni. These represented opportunities in 49 states, plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and many international opportunities. Sixty-one percent were for positions right here in Colorado. Employers recruited students in every college and every major. I just want to repeat that point to be sure you heard it. Employers recruited students in every college and in every major.

People all across campus are working hard to ensure our students succeed and that includes the academic success of our student athletes. Last fall's GPA of our 342 student athletes was 2.898, the best on record. In calendar 2013, 21 student-athletes recorded perfect 4.0 GPAs, tying a campus record. Another 154 student-athletes earned a 3.0 or better — and half of them had a 3.5 or better.

While our student-athletes were improving their academic success, 15 of our 17 programs participated in the post-season last year. So, clearly, athletic and academic success are not mutually exclusive, and it's becoming a trademark of CU-Boulder.

Supporting our goals in revenue generation, reputation and student success, we were pleased to announce recently that our new sponsored research awards came in at $412 million last year. That's a $60 million increase over the prior year, the highest ever, except in 2010 when many campuses, including ours, were supported by one-time federal stimulus dollars. This increase is especially significant coming at a time of federal belt-tightening, making federally sponsored research grants more competitive than ever. We have an amazingly productive faculty. Leiden University ranks CU-Boulder No. 14 among 500 universities worldwide for scholarly citations and research impact. Research is the powerhouse of innovation and students are the real beneficiaries. Cutting-edge knowledge generated from this research is migrated to students in the classroom and the lab where they have the opportunity to work directly with our researchers.

We also saw a record $67.1 million in donations to CU-Boulder through the work of our advancement staff in fiscal year 2014, even during a time of transition as the development structure was realigned. We are delighted that we just hired a new Vice Chancellor for Advancement, Aaron Conley, who comes to us with extensive experience from the University of Texas at Dallas. Our donors are helping to change the landscape of education at CU-Boulder. Donors support everything we do from providing opportunities for students to go college, to making world-class facilities possible, to ensuring we can compete with top universities for the best faculty.

In April the staffs of the Student Recreation Center and Facilities Management finalized the construction of the sparkling, newly renovated Recreation Center. CU Student Government led the way on this project, which got the thumbs up from our students in the largest voter turnout in school history to raise their student fees to support it. The design engineers for this beautiful new facility tell us it's the most energy-efficient rec center in the country. As one example, the ice rink and the pools are on a heat recovery loop so that heat generated from making the ice, directly heats the pools.

Healthy recreation is a huge part of student success and work-life balance, and it's great to see so many students, faculty and staff using the facilities. In fact, I wish I had more time to join them!

Some of you have seen the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex rising in Research Park on the East Campus. It will open in 2015 as the home to cross-disciplinary researchers who will work in partnership with federal labs to solve the world's most perplexing challenges in energy, sustainability, the environment and climate. This will support our international leadership in this area and will bring these researchers under one roof.

The new energy plant adjacent to the Coors Events Center is 90 percent complete and is scheduled for commissioning in January. The repowering of the existing Powerhouse Facility across from the ATLAS building is set to come on line next July. Once commissioned it will reduce the campus carbon footprint by nearly 15,000 metric tons per year through natural gas-powered generation. The upgraded centralized chilled- water system will provide long term, energy-efficient cooling to 31 main campus buildings when completed in the spring. All together these comprise a multi-year Utility Infrastructure Project for the campus, which is now 85 percent complete. I know this has caused a lot of disruption and I appreciate your patience. Overall, the enhancements will provide CU with a financially sustainable infrastructure that can readily expand with future campus growth.

Certainly we have much to celebrate. However our long-term success depends upon our unity around clearly defined goals for the campus. Today, I'm reminding you of our top three goals: student success, revenue diversification and continuing to enhance our reputation.

Campus culture and climate critical to student success

Let me talk about our strategic initiatives to achieve these three goals. First and foremost is the persistence of our students through to graduation. I would like to start with culture and climate because an open and engaging climate is essential in everything we do to ensure the success of all of our students, faculty and staff.

We have received feedback on insensitive and uncivil incidents on campus that diminishes our core value of providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. As many of you know there is a national call to make our nation's campuses safer and to better enforce Title IX, including sexual assault, discrimination and harassment. This includes our campus. I am asking that each one of us consider every day how we can influence the culture of this campus in a positive manner. Here's what we are doing from an administrative standpoint:

In June I appointed education and civil rights attorney Valerie Simons to a new important position: Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator. This newly created position reports directly to me and has campuswide oversight of a single unified unit for all complaints of discrimination. This is a new approach. Previously student complaints, and faculty and staff complaints, were investigated by separate offices. Ms. Simons brings outstanding credentials to this important role. Her goal is to ensure people truly understand the policies and requirements of the law, where they can get more information, and how they can get more help if they need it. She will be leading a large education effort on campus as well as helping me ensure that CU-Boulder becomes a national model for compliance.

In addition Student Affairs is creating a more welcoming and supportive climate for all students in residence halls, social programs, campus activities, and all the offices that provide student services.

The Cultural Unity and Engagement Center, or CUE, formerly the Center for Multicultural Affairs, has created a new model for serving and supporting students. They are working to help students from diverse backgrounds, including first-generation students, which is near and dear to my heart as a first generation student myself.

In June I also convened a University Task Force of students and staff to review and provide feedback on how to improve sexual assault prevention, response, transparency and accountability on campus. They met several times and provided nine strong recommendations on a number of actions we are pursuing. The task force's contribution has been meaningful, and so I have made its review a regular part of our process to continually evaluate how we can improve.

Improving campus culture and climate is a campuswide effort. CU-Boulder is helping set the standard on implementing requirements for the Violence Against Women Act, and is part of the conversation on the national stage. Jessica Ladd-Webert, director of the Office of Victim Assistance, is serving on the U.S. Department of Education's Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for the Violence Against Women Act. We can be proud that our university is well ahead in implementing the guidelines and best practices.

We are all committed as a community to creating and maintaining a positive environment on campus, and we will continue to build that environment. As part of our commitment to this, I have initiated the development of a diversity and inclusion plan to create a common understanding of CU-Boulder's vision, mission and strategic goals regarding diversity and inclusive excellence for our students, faculty and staff. The executive oversight committee for this includes myself, Provost Russ Moore, Senior Vice Chancellor Kelly Fox and Vice Chancellors Bob Boswell and Deb Coffin. We will be engaging the campus in formulating this plan through interviews and town hall meetings in the coming months.

In the meantime, you have already been hearing from campus leaders on the steps we are taking to improve our campus culture and climate and we are calling on all of you to be active participants. CU Student Government, faculty, and the Provost have partnered to create a series of campus climate dialogues. This allows all campus stakeholders to come together in a room and address questions specifically associated with climate issues within the classrooms.

The first one was held in September, hosted by Provost Moore, on academic freedom, faculty rights and responsibilities, and classroom and campus climate. That was followed by an in-depth presentation and discussion just week about Title IX and our obligations related to it led by Valerie Simons and Dean of Students Christina Gonzales. Next month we will continue these campus discussions with another one hosted by the Boulder Faculty Assembly. In December, the student government will host the final discussion for this year. Look for these to be announced in CU-Boulder Today.

I cannot stress enough how vital and necessary your participation is in transforming our campus climate and culture.

Campus climate and culture is critical to ensuring that our students complete their degrees. We know from our research that a primary reason for students leaving before they complete their degrees is because they do not feel connected to an adult who cares about them or they do not feel welcome on campus. A welcoming environment is a necessary as we support our students academically so that they will persist in their studies and graduate in a timely fashion. In last year's State of the Campus I announced a goal of a six-year graduation rate of 80 percent by 2020.

Meeting graduation goals

We can be proud that we are already the top public institution in the state for graduation rates. Last year we achieved 69.9% for our six-year graduation rate. So, we see that with our new goal of 80 percent we have significant work to do. That begins with this year's freshman class, so helping them persist from year-to-year is absolutely crucial for us to meet our 2020 goal.

However, our data analysis tells us that in the past we have not retained enough students from freshman year to sixth year to graduate 80 percent. In the next two to three weeks your department and unit heads will be receiving more information about what we are doing to help our students remain and succeed in pursuing their degrees to share with each of you. We need you to give us your ideas and tell us how you can contribute to this campuswide effort.

We want to do everything we can to maximize students' return on their investment while lowering their educational costs. To do that — we must retain more students and ensure they are on track in the major that is right for them.

One new program that is connecting freshmen to faculty mentors is a program piloted by the Boulder Faculty Assembly last year — the Student-Faculty Mentor Program. This year the number of students participating has nearly tripled to 1,700. More than 150 faculty have stepped up as mentors. Each faculty member has up to 12 students they are mentoring throughout this year. They meet every other week on topics such as time management, study skills, test preparation and being part of the CU community.

At the same time we are putting in place the systems that will help our advisors take a holistic approach to advising while collaborating across campus as a coordinated community for the benefit of our students. We are designing tools that will alert us when a student is floundering and in need of additional support. The Office of Information Technology is working with the colleges to design and implement a common advising platform with an initial rollout already in place in Arts and Sciences, and a larger rollout coming in March. This centralized system will be campuswide rather than specific to the individual colleges. It will provide a cohesive network of information and support for students that spans departments, offices, colleges and eventually campuses.

We are continuing the popular evening advising hours at Norlin Library Monday-Thursday. The library is hopefully a place where students go anyway and now they can get evening advising there. In addition, this semester we began campuswide drop-in advising every Monday from 1-3 at all advising centers so that students in any college can get the help that they need on the spot.

Using a web-based software that evaluates first-year students' math skills, we can now determine which math-based courses are a good match for new freshmen. And this fall, for the first time, we made assessment by this tool mandatory for class registration. It produced an interesting result. We created a ten-fold increase in the use of a tutorial offered through the software by students who wanted to retake the test after mastering a component of the material — in effect, doing their own remedial training. We are greatly encouraged by this, because we all know that when they are in classes that match their abilities they are more likely to succeed.

This year we increased summer financial aid to Pell-eligible sophomores to stay on track with their majors through the CU Achieve program. We have put together a number of dynamic choices to allow students to continue to make progress on their degrees. These include: a summer pathways program for transfer students, an Aug-mester program starting in 2015 modeled on our successful May-mester program, and online summer classes.

Helping our students find the right major is something we can all do, including students themselves. For example, CU Prime is a student-driven effort led by graduate students in the Physics Department with the goal to increase inclusion in Physics and STEM fields. They focus on traditionally underrepresented groups, through mentorship and community building.

We are continually improving, updating and developing new degrees which serve our students while fulfilling the needs of business and industry and advancing our economy. This year we established new professional master's degrees in the Leeds School of Business. These are done in direct consultation with businesses about specific needs, and to enhance the marketability and relevance to our students.

Our Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science in the College of Arts and Sciences is a good example of this. Although it was projected to have enrollment of 160 in school year 2014-15 when it was originally approved by our Board, we have seen enrollment more than double to 457. The demand for computer science skills now comes from businesses in every field. We are one of the few schools in the nation to have a computer science degree in the arts and sciences college meeting this demand.

Entrepreneurial campus

Entrepreneurship is of course a factor in student success, inspiring creativity, flexibility and communication. We have a tradition and a reputation for cross-campus entrepreneurship. Forbes magazine named CU-Boulder a Top 20 Entrepreneurial University in July. In April the Blackstone Charitable Foundation announced a $3 million grant to the Law School's Silicon Flatirons Center to create the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and help Colorado jumpstart the development of high-growth companies with potential to create new jobs.

Our reputation preceded us in this award. We already had well-established and well-respected entrepreneurial entities like the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship in the Leeds School of Business; the Entrepreneurship Center for Music right here at the College of Music — which may be the best in the country — the New Venture Challenge business competition, and our cross-campus entrepreneurship certificate which 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.

This diversity of programs to support our students is ambitious. To accomplish this takes an entire campus community. This is a group lift. But it's not an overwhelming lift for us because we are a campus that cares about our students and their success. To show you what I mean, I would like to play you this short video.

I think that represents our campus well. I want to thank the video team in our Strategic Marketing Department.

As Colorado's flagship university, founded the same year as Colorado statehood in 1876, we have always been a leader in our state. Take a moment to consider everything this university has accomplished.

We have gone from a single building on a barren mesa south of town to a leading public university. We have established ourselves as a major research university going from essentially zero research revenues to $412 million today.

In the last 25 years alone our faculty has earned all five of its Nobel Prizes and all eight of its MacArthur Fellows. We have spun out numerous companies from Ball Aerospace and Technology in 1956 to Recreo Pharmaceuticals in 2014 — with an average of five new companies a year since 2000.

We have been able to do this because we are innovators. The very founding of the university itself is a story of innovation. Boulder citizens cobbled together land and enough money to win matching funds from the territorial legislature to establish the university. A frantic overnight January horseback ride to Denver in 1874 just beat the legislative deadline and the state of Colorado was to be transformed. Innovation is in our DNA. It's who we are.

Three examples of innovation

Let me give you just three examples of innovation on our campus going on right now from staff, students and faculty. In the video you saw a moment ago, you met Ryan Heiland, the assistant manager of outdoor services, who is pioneering the use of a compost tea to beautify the campus in a natural way. Now he is working with ecology researcher Noah Fierer and they have a private grant to advance Ryan's innovation beyond our campus and study the widespread implications for golf courses, parks and resorts that value a naturally fertilized landscape. This is a great example of campus collaboration and partnership between Facilities Management, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and our new Office of Industry Collaboration that connects the university with business partners. As Ryan said, inventions can come from anyone, not just researchers.

Our students are also innovative in many, many ways. Here's just one instance: Advanced journalism students working under the direction of faculty began covering an unprecedented wave of major breaking news stories to aid overwhelmed media outlets in the summer of 2012, including statewide wildfires. Lo and behold, what became known as the CU News Corps became an award-winning media outlet in its own right, published locally and nationally. CU News Corps has garnered both awards and donors and its reporting recently re-opened a police investigation in Colorado Springs.

And of course our faculty are transformative. I couldn't begin to cite the totality of our faculty innovations. But here are just two examples. Paul Chinowsky is the Mortenson Professor of Sustainable Development in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. He has developed a modeling tool to predict the stress on day-to-day infrastructure like buildings, roads and bridges resulting from changing climate. His tool is sought globally, nationally, in Colorado and locally right here in Boulder, as communities build and prepare for the future. This real-world research impacts individuals, governments and economies worldwide.

Biomedical engineer Kristi Anseth and some of her PhD students recently co-founded Nanoly Bioscience, which is developing vaccines that survive without refrigeration so they can be delivered to rural areas of the world. It was one of three companies founded or co-founded by students last year. Dr. Anseth is one of eight CU-Boulder female researchers to spin out companies in the last six years.

This is who we are.

Announcing a grand challenge

Now we need to continue our tradition of innovation and transformation. Today I want to let you know that we are setting the foundation for what I will call our next Grand Challenge to bring transformation to our campus and to Colorado as a state.

We are seeing, right now, how the rapid development of space-based innovations has profoundly changed the ways in which we communicate, find our way, and how we engage in local, regional, and global commerce and society. Thriving in the future will require new levels of understanding as to how we manage space-based innovations to positively impact our daily lives.

Our Grand Challenge will call for a collaborative campus environment in which Earth and space sciences, engineering, business, law, social sciences, and humanities come together. Working with public and private partners we will explore and shape how space-based innovations and technologies impact business, law, and society.

We will harness the strengths of the campus in aerospace, climate science and the human experience to develop research and educational programs that prepare our students to be leaders of an economic and societal future that continues to see an unprecedented rate of change.

Importantly, this initiative will also connect our research and educational programs to communities across Colorado to raise the state's profile in managing the intersection of space technology with daily life on Earth.

Our aerospace future will not be realized in space. Rather, it will be right here on Earth. This creates an opportunity to utilize our unique knowledge and expertise to address the scientific, economic, and social challenges created by space-based technology advancements. I invite all of you to help us formulate this Challenge in a way that will maximize the use of our many talents across campus.

A steering committee will be formed to lead the development of the Grand Challenge led by Geography Professor Waleed Abdalati, the director of CIRES — the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences — and Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Based upon recommendations from this committee, we will be hosting an internal campus event on December 9th, to which you are all invited to attend and provide your input to this transformative initiative.

Today we have talked about strategic initiatives for achieving our goals of student success and revenue diversification, which in turn enhances the reputation of the university.

Integral to these new initiatives is the innovation and the speed with which we accomplish them. As you have heard today, it is already happening all around us — from how we maintain the campus to how we bring the benefits of our research to the world. It's happening because we are innovators.

To accomplish our goals we must all come together as members of the university community and not be siloed in our respective units and departments. The university's successes — of which there are many, are created by all of us. And its challenges must be met head on by all of us. We have begun breaking down old cultures of organization, research and teaching and replacing them with new levels of cooperation, interdisciplinary work, shared resources and shared success. We must address the need for innovation, collaboration and unity as boldly and clearly as our predecessors did when they established this great university and expanded its teaching and research mission. We need to take charge as a community to reach these new goals of student success, winning new sources of revenue, and always in enhancing the reputation of the University of Colorado Boulder.

We must remake our own image, building upon the increasing diversity we see within our community and within the greater world we live in. We need to be a more inclusive, welcoming campus, and a more vocal, active community in righting the wrongs we see around us.

Forty-one years ago I came to a quiet campus out West as a young, freshly minted PhD in education. This community nurtured me. It transformed me and lifted me, not just into a series of ever more responsible roles, but as a person, as an educator, as a learner.

If CU-Boulder can do that for me, it must commit itself to doing that for all who enter it, for all time. You are living out that commitment every day, in myriad ways too numerous to mention. I ask you to keep doing that, and I want to extend my most sincere appreciation to all of you, for the work you do for this great university, and for all the people it serves.

Thank you.