Published: Dec. 16, 2021

Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Roarke serves up some breakfast at the Staff Appreciation Breakfast. Photo by Casey A. Cass.Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Roarke serves up some breakfast at the Staff Appreciation Breakfast. Photo by Casey A. Cass.

Helping students, faculty and staff succeed academically and professionally may not immediately come to mind when people think about the COO’s job. But in my mind, it’s at the heart of our work as CU Boulder employees—and that includes me.

For nearly two years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a team of dedicated and talented professionals who make it possible for thousands of students to earn college degrees, for faculty members and researchers to create and share knowledge, and for staff members to serve our community with their skills and talents.

In my previous job as CU’s general counsel, I knew a lot about the legal issues the university faced. I also counted on a team of really smart lawyers who analyzed the issues and gave me great advice. We all operated from a place of legal expertise.

Now as COO, most of the time, I am not the expert in information technology, infrastructure and sustainability, finance and business strategy, enrollment management, strategic communications, human resources, integrity, safety and compliance or in other areas that require a different kind of expertise.

Once again, I depend on the skill, care, dedication and commitment that SRS subject matter experts like you bring to solving problems and creating opportunities at CU Boulder. Bottom line: I can’t do what you do, but I hope to be someone who supports your work, finds ways to make your experience better at CU Boulder, and contributes to the campus’s overall success.

Recently, I had the privilege of serving meals to hundreds of employees at the annual Staff Council breakfast. While on potato duty, I had the chance to thank a lot of folks I’d never met before. It was among the best three hours I spent on campus all semester, and I’m incredibly grateful to have a job that allows me to serve you and all of our employees.

As we approach this holiday season, I want to express my gratitude for all you have done for the university this year. I know we can all agree that last year was incredibly difficult. The pandemic disrupted just about everything we do, and this semester was just as hard because it required us to support a changing campus environment, recognize that people learn and work in different ways, and work to balance stresses both at work and at home. 

I wish you the very best as we wind down this semester and encourage you to enjoy the holidays and the company of friends and family. However, please also take a moment to reflect on how your work made it possible for a student to succeed on campus, for a faculty member or researcher to create and share knowledge, and for an employee to thrive in the workplace.

Our work never ends, yet we must celebrate CU Boulder’s ability to change lives. Everyone who reads this message made someone’s experience at CU Boulder this semester a little bit better, and I’m honored to be part of your team.

Happy Holidays! See you in 2022!