Published: Feb. 6, 2020

The campus is continuing to engage in year three of Academic Futures—implementing the strategic initiatives’ themes and projects and transforming them into the campus’s work priorities. 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 and enacting that role through shaping tomorrow’s leaders, being the top university for innovation and positively impacting humanity.

Read about our progress this year on the campus’s four priority themes, along with concurrent work on other Academic Futures themes and strategic campus projects:

Spring 2020 priority themes and projects

Interdisciplinary education, research and creative works 

On Nov. 20, 2019, the Academic Futures Interdisciplinary Education, Research and Creative Works Committee submitted its final report (PDF) and the response from campus to Provost Russell Moore and former Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox.  

“While I continue to engage academic leadership on the report’s recommendations, I am asking professor Jeff Cox—convener of Academic Futures—and Emily CoBabe-Ammann, facilitator of Academic Futures—to form what we’re calling a ‘definition team’ to work through the concept of the academies, put forward in the report,” Moore said. 

The definition team will look at possible structures of the academies, as well as budget requirements, implications for supporting departments and research institutes, operational challenges and a process for approval.  

“The academies represent an important and innovative approach to supporting large educational themes on our campus, both our interdisciplinary and our disciplinary-based programs,” said CoBabe-Ammann. They should offer a place of innovation and opportunity for our students at all levels.”

Cox and CoBabe-Ammann plan to have the definition team in place during the coming weeks and their work concluded by summer. Stay tuned for more information on how to participate.

Creating a common student-centered approach to teaching and learning

Responding to the Foundations of Excellence initiative, the campus continues its work on a first-year advising model that embeds first-year advisors in colleges, schools and programs, networked together under a common structure and budget. Hiring for additional first-year advisors across all of CU Boulder colleges and schools is expected to be completed by July 1, 2020. 

“Throughout the spring, we will continue to involve campus stakeholders in important conversations about how to honor students’ local disciplinary contexts while ensuring a consistent experience for our students across colleges and schools,” said Shelly Bacon, associate vice provost for advising and exploratory studies.

The Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) has appointed Becca Ciancanelli as the lead for inclusive pedagogy, a new position designed to support all campus educators as they engage students from diverse backgrounds in the learning process. Ciancanelli most recently was a STEM coordinator with the Student Academic Success Center (SASC). During the spring, CTL will hire two professional development leads, an assessment lead and a business administrator.

“We plan to have our full staff in place in May,” said Kirk Ambrose, director of CTL. “Throughout this semester, we will also continue our work with partners across campus in advancing a common student-centered approach to learning through training, workshops and one-on-one consultations." 

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

Following the Oct. 30, 2019, release of the IDEA Plan and record attendance at the Fall Diversity and Inclusion Summit, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement is now gearing up for the Spring Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25. 

To help provide initial guidance on IDEA Plan implementation, a transition working group—led by Vice Chancellor Bob Boswell and including Assistant Vice Chancellor and Deputy Chief HR Officer Merna Jacobsen, Arts and Sciences Associate Dean for Student Success Daryl Maeda, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Kevin MacLennan and Chief Human Resources Officer for CU Boulder Katherine Erwin—has met with Moore. 

Additional updates regarding the rollout of activities stemming from the IDEA Plan’s recommendations will be announced in the coming weeks, including an update on the formation of the Council for Community and Inclusion, a campus representative body that will permanently engage the campus on implementing the IDEA Plan and sustaining the campus’s inclusive excellence efforts. 

New steps on Online and Distance Education soon to be announced 

Moore has accepted three working group reports on online and distance education, all of which he is reviewing. The working groups focused on creating a plan to move from the current state of online education to a desired future state; on new possibilities for continuing education as a program innovator; and on creating infrastructure and resources for online/continuing education.  

“During the coming weeks, we will share the next steps in mapping the combined working group recommendations to campus action,” said Robert McDonald, dean of libraries and senior vice provost of online education. “We will be meeting with key stakeholders in Continuing Education and across all areas of online education as a part of this mapping, reporting out to the faculty and to the campus at large.” 

Moore said “creating a compelling online and distance approach with our faculty is vital for our campus and for our participation in any larger online and distance efforts. I look forward to unveiling the next steps in our approach for our campus community.” 

While we wait for the team’s final report and HLC’s action this spring, we continue our work on initiatives that are related to and impact our accreditation, such as continued work on the IDEA plan, assessing the effectiveness of our curriculum and others.

Progress on other Academic Futures themes and campus strategic projects


We continue to develop a more robust governance ecosystem, ensuring more direct representation of faculty across campus. All schools and colleges, by the end of the spring, will have modified their governance structures to include processes for increased budget transparency and communication with their deans, more complete grievance procedures and a definitive statement on the use of faculty course questionnaires (FCQs) in their unit. Additionally, the criteria and process for the dean’s review will now be undertaken as part of faculty governance at the school or college level.

Campus success: Physical and financial resources 

Strategic Facilities Visioning’s year-long effort has culminated in a data-rich facilities planning tool to help our campus leadership make the most effective infrastructure decisions in support of the campus mission and priorities. The completed visioning effort, along with the recommendations from the housingtransportation and energy master plans, will all inform the 2021 Campus Master Plan update, which is slated to begin this spring.

What it means to be a public university today

This initiative theme, 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. 

Accreditation update

As a part of CU Boulder’s comprehensive evaluation for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a team of peer reviewers from HLC visited campus on Dec. 9 and 10, 2019. The team’s purpose was to review the university’s continued compliance with HLC’s criteria for accreditation and to provide recommendations on our continued work on institutional improvements.