Published: March 10, 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 

Jeff Cox, convener of Academic Futures, and Emily CoBabe-Ammann, facilitator of Academic Futures, are continuing the work of forming a “definition team” to work through the concept of the academies as put forward in the report.  

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. 

Cox and Cobabe-Ammann are at work seeking the membership of the definition team. They plan to have the definition team in place during the coming weeks, with work to commence in spring-summer.

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.

“We are well on our way to hiring additional first-year advisors,” said Shelly Bacon, associate vice provost for advising and exploratory studies. “We’ve also expanded Mike Simmons’s role from director of the university exploration and advising center to director of first-year and exploratory advising. He’s been meeting regularly with all first-year advisors to build a supportive, campus-wide advising network for our students.”

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 presented a session on inclusive pedagogy during the Spring Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Feb. 25, and will hold a similar session for graduate students on March 30, during the campus’s annual Graduate Student Appreciation Week, March 30 to April 3.

“With these workshops and one-on-one consultations, we are starting to advance our commitment to a common student-centered approach to learning throughout campus,” said Kirk Ambrose, the director of CTL. “We are continuing to hire our professional staff with plans to have everyone in place by early summer.”

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

The IDEA Plan implementation 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—is moving forward with convening the Council for Community and Inclusion (CCI).

The CCI will be a representative group of leadership from across CU Boulder who will permanently engage the campus on implementing the IDEA Plan and sustaining the campus’s inclusive excellence efforts. Their charge will be to 1) recommend and prioritize IDEA Plan actions, 2) advocate and engage for promising practices and award innovation grants, and 3) assess and report diversity and inclusion data to campus and leadership. They will steward the IDEA Plan in making excellence inclusive at CU Boulder.

Additional information about the Council for Community and Inclusion and other progress related to the IDEA Plan will be forthcoming in future updates.

Next steps on online and distance education expected later in spring

Provost Russ Moore has accepted three working group reports on online and distance education, all of which were 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. Next steps for the advancement of online and distance education are expected later this spring. 

Progress on other Academic Futures themes and campus strategic projects


Schools and colleges continue to strengthen our governance ecosystem, ensuring more direct representation of faculty across campus. They are all in the midst of reviewing 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. We anticipate this work will be completed by the end of the semester.  

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.

Running in parallel, Financial Futures continues to surface opportunities that bring our resources into even better alignment with our strategic plan. During the past 12 months, campus community members have generated over 570 ideas, resulting in over 160 projects approved for implementation. These projects are projected to generate a significant net impact for the campus in fiscal year 2021 and beyond.

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 later 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.

The site visit team’s report has been reviewed for accuracy and correction of errors by campus senior academic leadership and the accreditation team, led by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert. The team’s report has been submitted to HLC’s Institutional Actions Council for review in mid-March.

The university expects to receive a final report and action letter from the HLC in April.

Academic reorganization update 

Provost Russ Moore on March 4 hosted an open forum in the College of Arts and Sciences to discuss academic reorganization. Moore explained his thinking on a new structure for the college and linked it to the work of the Provost’s Committee on Academic Reorganization and that of three working groups who delivered reports to him in December-January. 

Moore said he supported—consistent with the committee and working group recommendations—creating three more empowered divisional deans in natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. As proposed, the divisional deans would have budget and personnel authority for faculty lines and set divisional goals, priorities and projects. 

The divisional deans would work in concert with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences who would coordinate support functions such as human resources, communications, fundraising, advancing the liberal arts identity and mission of the college, and managing budgets for those support activities. 

Moore said the advantages of this structure would be to ensure the faculty and staff are closer to those who make many decisions while freeing the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to focus additional time on fundraising, leading the mission of the liberal arts, and coordinating interdisciplinary activities. 

“I would think this would be a dean’s dream,” Moore told the group. 

Moore said the work of creating job descriptions, working out logistics and structure issues, and conducting national searches for the deans would mean the new structure for the college was likely 18 months away. 

“But we can begin the first stages of that work as early as next week­—after Monday’s (March 9) meeting with Arts and Sciences chairs,” Moore said.