Published: Dec. 10, 2019

At the start of the fall semester, campus kicked off year three of Academic Futures by integrating the strategic initiatives into the implementation of our 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.

Read about the progress so far this year on the campus’s four priority themes and projects, along with concurrent work on other Academic Futures themes and projects.

Fall 2019 priority themes and projects

Interdisciplinary education, research and creative works 

On Nov. 20, the Academic Futures Interdisciplinary Education, Research and Creative Works Committee submitted its final report (PDF) and the response from campus to Provost Russell Moore. 

Both are currently under review by the provost and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox. 

“The report has some compelling ideas and suggestions for moving ahead in an area in which we have a long record of doing exciting work,” said Moore. “The campus response gives us just a taste of the faculty’s strong appetite for engaging in interdisciplinary research, teaching and scholarship in new ways, as well as by enhancing existing efforts.”

Moore said he and Fox would announce early in the spring semester a path forward on the report’s recommendations. 

Creating a common student-centered approach to teaching and learning 

Responding to the Foundations of Excellence initiative, the campus is implementing a first-year advising model, under Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Mary Kraus, that embeds first-year advisors in colleges, schools and programs, networked together under a common structure and budget. Hiring is underway to add more first-year advisors across all of CU Boulder colleges and schools, and implementation will be complete as of July 1, 2020. CU Boulder leadership continues to consider the recommendations of the First-Year Experience Committee report for funding and implementation.

Associate Vice Provost for Advising and Exploratory Studies Shelly Bacon says the first-year advising model is one of several advising-related initiatives that are underway.

“As we work toward implementation, we are involving campus stakeholders in important conversations about how best to honor students’ local disciplinary contexts while ensuring a consistent experience for our students across colleges and schools,” Bacon said.

“It’s wonderful to see advising being valued as a key contributor to student success, and I look forward to the progress I know we’ll make as an advising community over the next few years,” said Bacon.

The Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL), which will soon announce a lead for inclusive pedagogy, is offering workshops to build inclusive communities of practice in partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE). 

CTL’s pilot projects this spring include a series for faculty on graduate student mentoring co-sponsored with the Graduate School and a conference for graduate students on career paths, including the entrepreneurial path, with the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). 

“I am very excited to see that our strategic vision announced back in October is really taking shape and serving our campus community,” said Kirk Ambrose, director of CTL. “This spring, I look forward to having our full staff team in place and to continuing our work with partners across campus in advancing a common student-centered approach to learning through new and innovative offerings.”

IDEA Plan, Diversity and Inclusion Summit marked progress in making excellence inclusive

The fall 2019 semester saw several milestones in the work of making excellence inclusive campuswide. The publication of the finalized version of the IDEA Plan took place Oct. 30, marking the first comprehensive diversity plan of its scope for CU Boulder.

Following the momentum of the IDEA Plan’s release, the campus saw record attendance at the 29th annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit. The event featured two days of workshops and campus addresses focused on building community, fostering diversity and inclusion. Allied student groups partnered with the Diversity and Inclusion Summit Planning Committee to coordinate several sessions, including the Leadership Unplugged conversation at which diverse members of the campus community engaged in honest dialogue.

Following a well-attended fall summit, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement is now gearing up for the spring summit, which will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

Save the date

Spring 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Summit is Feb. 25.

“This is an exciting time,” said Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Bob Boswell. “We recognize that the activities we’ve been engaged in are bringing more people together than ever before, helping us to move toward making excellence inclusive. During the spring semester, departments and units across campus will move from inspiration to action as they tailor the IDEA Plan to their localized units.”

To help provide initial guidance on IDEA Plan implementation, a transition working group, led by Vice Chancellor Bob Boswell, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Deputy Chief HR Officer Merna Jacobsen and Arts & Sciences Associate Dean for Student Success Daryl Maeda, held its first meeting in November. 

Additional updates regarding the rollout of activities stemming from the IDEA Plan’s recommendations will be forthcoming in the spring semester.

Provost, COO reviewing working group reports on online and distance education

Provost Russell Moore has received three working group reports on online and distance education. 

The first two reports—on creating a plan to move from the current state of online education to a desired future state and to consider new possibilities for continuing education as a program innovator—were submitted to campus leadership in October.

The third report—to create infrastructure and resources for online/continuing education—was submitted on Friday, Dec. 6, and is under review.

“Putting these recommendations together will help us chart a course of action on online and distance education that will begin to take shape in the spring semester,” said Moore.  

Other Academic Futures themes and projects move forward

Accreditation site team visits this week

The university’s evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation is underway with an external review team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) on campus holding drop-in sessions and open forums for faculty, staff and students.

“As we complete our site visit with HLC this week, I want to thank everyone for their input and support,” said Katherine Eggert, senior vice provost for academic planning and assessment. “This was a full-campus lift, and I am proud of our collective accomplishment.”

HLC will take action on the university’s reaccreditation in early 2020.


We continue to work with schools and colleges to develop a more robust governance ecosystem, ensuring more direct representation of faculty across campus.

Campus success: Innovative ‘PREVIEW’ tool marks culmination of Strategic Facilities Visioning

The efforts of the Strategic Facilities Visioning (SFV) team have culminated with the delivery of a dynamic digital planning tool, PREVIEW, that is on the cutting edge for facilities evaluation in institutions of higher education. This tool will prove integral in helping campus leadership make the most meaningful and impactful infrastructure investment decisions in support of the campus mission and priorities emanating from Academic Futures.

PREVIEW (Planning for Research and Education: Visioning Information Explorer WebApp) is the final deliverable of the 15-month SFV process. SFV, informed by the other major campus strategic initiatives, drew collaborative input from more than 180 “visionaries” representing 30-plus colleges, schools, institutes and major support units across campus.

The tool implements the future vision for space types and functions articulated by these visionaries and incorporates a wealth of campus data on space and programming, enabling campus planners to test different planning scenarios for leadership.

The Office of Planning, Design and Construction is now in the process of integrating the tool into its workflows as the university prepares to embark on creation of the next campus master plan due in 2021.

“PREVIEW comes at a pivotal time for our campus as we plan for the future, and it represents a truly innovative approach to space planning in higher education,” said David Kang, vice chancellor for infrastructure and sustainability. “Shaped by the thoughtful work of our SFV visionaries, the tool will bring an unprecedented level of data validation to our infrastructure decisions.”

The goal of PREVIEW is multi-faceted and will enable leadership to do the following:

  • Understand the true capacity and condition of our campus spaces
  • Forecast space needs based on population projections, changing demographics, campus facilities vision and an evolving higher-education and research landscape
  • Anticipate and respond to future facilities requirements in ways that best enable our campus mission

While aggregating a wealth of data sources from across campus into its functionality is a key component of PREVIEW, the form and intent of the tool were driven largely by the work of the SFV visionaries during the scenario planning phase.

Scenario planning entailed visionaries working in interdisciplinary groups to develop and test future infrastructure scenarios relating to identified university requirements and the evolving landscape of education and research. While each of the six teams focused on distinct topics, their proposed strategies and goals aimed for alignment with the chancellor’s strategic imperatives and ultimately converged on a vision of human-centered campus planning.

Key findings across the scenario planning teams articulated the spatial components and strategies necessary to achieve university strategic goals. That phase culminated in the development of building templates for unique building typologies across campus, each of which applies a mixed-use approach to campus programming to facilitate an enhanced experience for all students, faculty and staff.

“Our scenario planning teams ultimately created a vision for the campus on the building, neighborhood, campus and university scales that helped mold the PREVIEW tool,” Kang said.

The result is a tool that helps ensure future space decisions meet programmatic needs while also meeting the holistic, university-first vision for campus infrastructure.

Colorado statutes require CU Boulder update its campus master plan every 10 years, with the next due in 2021. Housing and transportation master planning efforts to help inform the next campus master plan are currently underway, and an energy master plan initiative with the same aims will begin soon.

What it means to be a public university today

This initiative, embedded in Academic Futures, is integrated 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. Progress on this initiative will be announced in the spring semester.

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 university’s physical infrastructure to support learning, teaching, research and community interaction.