Published: Oct. 1, 2019

On the first Tuesday of each month in CU Boulder Today, we provide an update on how, in year three of Academic Futures, we are integrating the important work of our strategic initiatives into the implementation of our Academic Futures’ priority themes and projects. At the heart of this process is our commitment to furthering the public good by embracing our role as Colorado’s leading national public research university. 

The following update focuses on this year’s four priority themes and projects, along with concurrent work on other Academic Futures themes and projects.

Fall 2019 main themes and projects 

Interdisciplinarity report posted for campus review; town halls set for this month

A key recommendation from the Academic Futures report was to develop a roadmap that supports interdisciplinary research and education across the campus. Today, the Academic Futures Committee on Interdisciplinary Education, Research and Creative Work released its draft report to campus for a 30-day comment period. Feedback to the report can be submitted through the Academic Futures website, either as comments or as two-page response papers. (Update as of Oct. 22: The deadline for submitting feedback has been extended through the end of business on Friday, Nov. 8.)

The campus community is encouraged to participate in one of the eight town hall meetings throughout October with the committee’s chair, Interim Dean Jim White, and members of the committee. 

The final report, including responses from campus, will be delivered to the provost in early November.

Creating a common student-centered approach to teaching and learning

On Sept. 30, the Center for Teaching and Learning unveiled its strategic vision and a path toward developing a comprehensive supportive network of activities that develop, promote and extend educational excellence in our faculty and graduate students.

“We have arrived at a historic moment with the opening of CTL,” said Kirk Ambrose, the director of CTL. “CU Boulder has long desired this move, and it will better serve all of our educators in advancing a common student-centered approach to learning. We are looking forward to immediately launching the partnerships and strengthening the relationships that will make CTL successful and vital to the campus.”

In support of Foundations of Excellence recommendations by Financial Futures, the campus is implementing a first-year advising model under Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Mary Kraus. 

The model embeds first-year advisors in colleges, schools and programs and networks them together under a common structure. It also centralizes first-year budget lines that currently reside in colleges, schools and programs within the Office of Undergraduate Education. 

Making excellence inclusive

Provost Russ Moore and COO Kelly Fox recently met with the IDEA Plan authoring and revising committee chairs, and also with the committee as a whole, for focused conversations on the plan’s framing, implementation and path forward. The chairs and members of the committee are revising portions of the plan. 

Once completed, campus leadership will receive the report, provide a response letter, and post both to relevant websites for future discussions and decision making. At that point, the plan becomes the constantly evolving blueprint for inclusive excellence, diversity and equity at CU Boulder. 

Teaching and technology, online and distance education

On Sept. 13, the provost and COO announced that CU Boulder will create a new organization to oversee teaching and technology, online and distance learning. The organization will work with faculty and staff to support the vision put forward by our campus through Academic Futures.

“This organization will be accountable for teaching and technology for all online, hybrid and distance education, emphasizing a student-centered perspective that aligns with the campus mission,” Moore said.

Within the new organization, Robert McDonald will assume a dual role as both dean of the University Libraries (his current post) and the administrative leader of the campus’s online education efforts. Current Dean of Continuing Education Sara Thompson will serve as dean and vice provost for the online and distance organization.

Other Academic Futures themes and projects making progress


The university’s next evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is scheduled for 2019­–20. A draft of the university’s assurance argument is on the accreditation website for campus review through Oct. 13. Town halls will be scheduled from mid-October through mid-November for community comments and questions. An external review team visits campus Dec. 9–10. 

Additionally, HLC provides faculty, staff, students and other members of the campus community the opportunity to submit comments regarding institutions that are undergoing a comprehensive evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation via the HLC third-party comment form.

Examining shared governance

We continue to make progress on examining shared governance, with a goal of upgrading our governance model to facilitate more direct representation of colleges and schools.

Campus success: physical and financial resources

The work of the Strategic Facilities Visioning team over the past year is culminating this fall in developing and refining a data-rich planning tool to help campus leadership make the most meaningful and impactful infrastructure investment decisions in support of the campus mission and priorities emanating from Academic Futures.

What it means to be a public university today

We consider this initiative, embedded in Academic Futures, in our daily activities of research, scholarship, creative work, teaching and service. These activities further the public good by providing new knowledge, discoveries and creative works that directly serve communities.

Sustaining, supporting and inspiring our community

Under the IDEA Plan, we are creating commitments to diversity, equity and inclusive excellence that will sustain, support and inspire our research, scholarship, creative work, teaching and service. Through Strategic Facilities Visioning, we are transforming the way we plan for physical infrastructure that supports learning, teaching, research and community interaction.

Internationalizing our campus

A key project of Academic Futures, this initiative seeks to unify the university’s efforts around international education, learning, research, scholarship, creative work and outreach/service, with benefits for students, faculty, and local and international publics.