One of the challenges of university leadership is helping set course for a future that we can scarcely imagine. We work in a field that is all about creating the future—the students we educate, the research we support—our “product” is tomorrow. We must take an active role in encouraging the skills and introspection that will enable our community to respond and shape our ever-changing world and take CU Boulder into the future.
As Thomas Friedman recently wrote in his book Thank You for Being Late, “The only way to steer is to paddle as fast as or faster than the rate of change in technology, globalization and the environment. The only way to thrive is by maintaining dynamic stability . . .”
Friedman argues technological, social and environmental changes are happening so quickly, society is having difficulty keeping up—steering is not a realistic option. For us to thrive, we need to build communities that are strong but can flex and adjust to those changing conditions.
As a university, we are entering a phase of extraordinary change, and we are entering with our eyes open and with a standing invitation to our community to participate in creating the resiliency and adaptability necessary for the modern world.
Provost Moore and I recently invited our campus community to take part in the Academic Futures Visioning Process. This unique opportunity calls upon our faculty, students and staff to reimagine our efforts as part of a community of learning and discovery, define how we will thrive as we transform CU Boulder and provide a model for other institutions to follow.
We have been laying the groundwork for our organizational resiliency in a wide variety of ways, including the Inclusive Excellence initiative headed by Vice Chancellor Boswell.
To again quote Friedman, “As for embracing diversity, it is more vital than ever today for creating resilience in a changing environment. Thanks to diversity, no matter what climate changes affect your environment, some organism or ensemble of organisms will know how to deal with it.”
We are a better community when we are varied and inclusive. We can and will thrive if we value and encourage the contributions of all members.
We are also reimagining the physical and virtual spaces where we conduct our teaching and learning. This summer, Vice Chancellor David Kang announced the launch of the strategic facilities planning project, initiating campuswide conversations and visioning that will shape the physical environment of our campus for the decades to come.
However, the classrooms, labs, residence halls and other elements of our built environment are not the only way our community experiences our campus. Provost Moore and I also are sponsoring the Unified Student Experience Project, which will integrate and unify campus-level services and support from the perspective of our students. The end result will be a framework that can respond to the needs of our student community—beginning with their first-year experience and extending throughout their academic career.
We work in a space where innovation and collaboration go hand in hand. I am thankful for the leaders across our campus—in initiatives big and small—who are shaping CU Boulder’s future and actively creating a responsive and resilient community. I invite all members of our community to join the process.
Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer