With spring break in less than two weeks and the close of the academic year in less than two months, our academic community has much to accomplish before commencement caps are sent skyward. The transformation of CU Boulder’s academic experience is occurring on many fronts, and I wanted to give you an update on our progress across a few of them.
First, let me urge all of you to join us this Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the UMC’s Glenn Miller Ballroom for the chancellor’s spring town hall, including an update on the progress of the Academic Futures initiative. A panel discussion, moderated by Academic Futures leaders Jeff Cox and Emily CoBabe-Ammann, will feature members of the Academic Futures Committee discussing some of the key transformative ideas submitted by our campus community during the fall semester. There also will be updates from Chancellor DiStefano, Senior Vice Chancellor Fox and me on the general progress of the initiative. A reception will follow the event at the same venue.
Academic Futures is a major re-envisioning of how the university engages in scholarship, creative work, teaching and learning. But as significant as it will be to our future, it’s not the only major future-oriented effort we’ve got going. The Foundations of Excellence project is examining the critical components that shape our students’ first-year experiences, with an eye toward making improvements in those experiences.
Foundations of Excellence is led by Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mary Kraus, who is working with partners that include Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Christina Gonzales, Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Gwen Pomper and faculty, staff and students across campus. Nine committees are studying different aspects of the first-year experience, including how we might develop a first-year philosophy, create a culture of faculty responsibility for the first year, and how we can serve all first-year students according to their varied needs, abilities, backgrounds, interests and experiences.
The nine committees have completed reports that are now being consolidated into one report due to me in April. We will time the implementation of the recommendations in that report with the second-year work to develop implementation strategies for the transformative ideas we select from the Academic Futures process.
We also are making great progress on our Unified Student Experience (USE) project, a campuswide effort that seeks to create a more seamless online and in-person CU Boulder student experience. Working with students directly, the USE team has been making progress in establishing design principles, developing measurable design requirements and transforming those requirements into a number of prototypes that will streamline access to the more than 90 different campus systems students use to manage everything from advising appointments to registering for classes.
None of this is change for change’s sake. Rather, these efforts—centered in our Academic Affairs division but partnering with key people and organizations across campus and extending to our entire community—are about transforming to meet our strategic imperatives: shaping tomorrow’s leaders, being a top innovation university and positively impacting humanity.
The year has proven to be a watershed moment in the transformation of CU Boulder. I am grateful to the leaders of these important initiatives and to the faculty, staff and students whose ideas, input and participation are making them, and our university, successful.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs