Published: June 1, 2013 By

Dame Julie Andrews, in her commencement speech to 6,084 new alumni and their families last month at Folsom Field, heralded CU-Boulder as a “public Ivy League school.” That’s high praise. It’s up to us to live up to it.

Helping us do that is a new advisory council that draws from some of the best and brightest industry, business and philanthropic leaders across the nation and Colorado.

Called the Chancellor’s Strategic Advisory Council, this group of elite thinkers will help us identify campus innovations in operating efficiency, generate new funding sources in this era of declining state support for higher education, create additional revenue through new industry research partnerships and build and sustain CU-Boulder’s reputation in Colorado and the nation.

That’s a big assignment. But this diverse group of trailblazers can do it. They all have vitae of innovation, bold ideas and unconventional solutions. They are attracted by the challenges public higher education faces in this era of transformation. They realize the stakes are high for our students and for the state’s future, but the potential rewards are great. This 11-member council includes:

  • Norman Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO of the Board of the Lockheed Martin Corp.
  • Pamela Drew (Math’85, CompSci’87, PhD’91), President, Information Systems, Exelis, Inc.
  • Bradley Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group
  • Allison Keller, Executive Director and CFO of the W.M. Keck Foundation and President of Oakmont Corp.
  • Denise M. O’Leary, Private Investor
  • William N. Reinert (MCivEngr’81), National Manager, Advanced Technology Group for Toyota Motor Sales, USA
  • Todd Rulon-Miller, Founding Partner, Apogee Venture Group, Board Chair of the CU-Boulder Parent Leadership Society
  • Mark Sirangelo, Corporate Vice President, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Chairman of SNC Space Systems
  • Robert D. Strain, President of Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.
  • Philip A. Washington, General Manager, Regional Transportation District
  • Earl Wright, Chair of the Board and Executive Committee, AMG National Trust Bank Chancellor Phil Distefano at commencement

They join us from industry and nonprofits. They include alumni, parents, industrial partners and those who have a love for the university. I have asked them to work with me in three ways: enhance the educational experience of students to maximize their success at the university and in the workforce, solidify the global stature of CU-Boulder as a comprehensive national research university and help us create a sustainable fiscal and organizational model as a leading flagship university for the 21st century. 

We start our work next month, and I’m sure the results will be exciting. I look forward to sharing our progress with you.

Philip P. DiStefano is the 11th chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder. You may contact him at