Published: Sept. 10, 2020

At its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 10, which was hosted remotely, The University of Colorado Board of Regents recently heard updates on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as fall enrollment numbers. They recognized 2019 Distinguished Professor David Korevaar, revised three regent policies and more.

Diversity and inclusion

In his update to the board on the fall return to campus, Chancellor Philip DiStefano addressed the need for the campus to further improve diversity, equity and inclusion on the campus.

“This begins with us acknowledging that our intentions have to be followed with action. But, in determining what those actions need to be, we need to listen to our community and not assume that we know all the answers,” DiStefano said. “We also need to understand how the past months have affected our community, as many of our students, faculty and staff have experienced grief and anger. If we don’t genuinely reflect upon where we are and what we want to become, we’re not going to fully meet our mission.”

DiStefano also reported a Council for Community and Inclusion has been formed to help the campus prioritize the actions in the IDEA plan–a campus blueprint for building a more diverse and inclusive CU Boulder. He said that Chief Doreen Jokerst of the University of Colorado Police Department has created the new Community Safety Task Force to assist in looking at how we make the campus safe and welcoming for everyone.

CU Boulder fall semester update

During his update, DiStefano also described CU Boulder’s ongoing testing strategies. DiStefano reported that campus is conducting wastewater testing to give an early indicator of potential COVID-19 infection, using saliva tests to monitor and screen for infection, and conducting nasal swab testing for diagnostic purposes with people showing symptoms.

DiStefano reported campus has the capacity to run 1,500 tests per day, and by the end of next week, the campus hopes to be able to run 3,000 tests per day.

“We have focused most of our efforts on our on-campus student population and high-risk populations,” DiStefano said. “This week, we have expanded capacity to faculty, staff and non-resident students who work within residential communities, as well as those who work in dining and facilities.”

DiStefano reported that so far, the Boulder campus has not identified a single case where there was a classroom transmission, either to another student or to a faculty member.

“The protocols and investments we made are working,” DiStefano said.

DiStefano also described campus efforts to encourage responsible behaviors and address off-campus behaviors when they occur.

Campus enrollment update

Todd Saliman, senior vice president for strategy government relations and chief financial officer, updated the board on preliminary fall enrollment numbers, including the Boulder campus. Saliman reported that current projections expect enrollment to be lower than budget, with decreases in enrollment among domestic and international students. Saliman said that total enrollment is projected to be 2 percent lower than the June estimate, including a 10 percent decrease to the incoming freshman class. These enrollments will be updated after the fall census.

Saliman emphasized that uncertainty about the impact of COVID-19 and further economic conditions on students make it difficult to anticipate future enrollment trends and changes to the campuses’ budgets.

Looking forward, the campus is focusing on student success and retention, as well as increased virtual engagement with prospective students and families. 

Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke reported that a decline in freshmen enrollment may be the result of a high number of deferrals. O’Rourke expressed optimism that many of the students who deferred enrollment will enroll at a later time. He discussed challenges for the campus related to that potential trend.

Distinguished professor recognition 

The board recognized CU Boulder Professor David Korevaar. He is among CU’s distinguished professors named in 2019, but was unable to attend the board of regents meeting at the time. Korevaar, of CU Boulder’s College of Music, holds a doctorate in musical arts and is an exceptionally gifted pianist, scholar, performer, teacher and mentor. In a moving gesture, Korevaar played a piece on the piano by Florence Price, an African American composer, and reflected on his own journey to amplify women and BIPOC composers. The performance can be seen in the recording of the board meeting.

Revisions to regent policies

The board discussed revisions to a policy involving administrator searches and the appointment of chief officers. The revisions would authorize the board to deviate from the processes defined in this policy to give qualified internal candidates an equal opportunity to compete with qualified external candidates. The changes would also update the composition of hiring committees for chancellors of the CU campuses as well as deans of the University of Colorado School of Law, the Leeds School of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The board is expected to vote on this item next week.

The board also voted to approve revisions to a policy about regent notification for contracts, as well as update language to another policy that refers to it. The revision identifies contracts funded exclusively through research or clinical sources, when those clinical sources fund clinical-related activities, as an exception to the requirement that the board be notified about any contracts involving non-real property expected to exceed $10 million. 

In other board news

  • During the public comment portion of the meeting, several students from the Boulder campus spoke about issues pertaining to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. Many of the speakers asked for the diversity, equity and inclusion work on campuses to include the BIPOC communities and for the board to get to know the BIPOC people on their campuses. 
  • The board heard an overview of the recently released economic impact study from Richard Wobbekind, associate dean for business and government relations, senior economist and faculty director of the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business.