Published: June 1, 2015

Philip P. DiStefano

Dynamic Journey

Chancellor, you talk a lot about student success as one of your top priorities. What does that look like on campus?

A better graduation rate — we’re already tops in Colorado and well above the national average — but we owe it to our students and their families to make it even better. That starts with a more productive orientation to get freshmen off on the right foot. It also means more engaged and personalized advising so students can seamlessly change majors or colleges and get the right fit without delaying their graduation. Our goal is to have 80 percent of our students graduate within six years, an equivalent rate to top public peers.

What are you doing with orientation?

We are replacing the mandatory two-day campus orientation and introducing an innovative interactive online orientation based on a successful model used by Stanford and Duke and paring that with an optional day to visit the campus.

Parents and students told us the old orientation was overwhelming and difficult to attend in the summer. We’ve developed a dynamic online journey with short videos, personalized information and messages through social media. This enables us to communicate with students the way they communicate.

They can video chat with professors, talk to advisors and view step-by-step instructional videos about class registration. It emphasizes a student’s academic success.

How are you revamping advising, and why is this important?

We want students who enroll here to stay here and graduate on time with minimal debt. We’re rolling out centralized, holistic advising so students don’t lose time or credit when they change majors or colleges. We’re establishing an IT platform so advisers in any school or college can access a student’s transcript and help them with cross-campus academic transitions.

In addition we now have evening advising at Norlin Library on weeknights until 8 p.m. and drop-in advising for all colleges on Mondays from 1-3 p.m.

Why is this important to alumni?

Many of our alumni are also parents. But all alumni will want to know that we continue to increase the value of a CU-Boulder degree by graduating students in a timely way with flexible and marketable skills in an ever-changing society so they can join alumni who have changed the world.

Chancellor DiStefano just completed his 41st year on campus.

Illustration by Melinda Josie