Patrick O’Rourke, who has served the University of Colorado system for more than 15 years as an attorney, administrator and adjunct faculty member, will remain in his role as CU Boulder’s chief operating officer, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano announced today.
O’Rourke has filled the role on an interim basis since Feb. 20, beginning less than a month before CU Boulder shifted quickly to a COVID-19-ready operating model. O’Rourke’s tenure as the permanent COO is effective immediately, the chancellor said.
The chancellor’s announcement follows a two-month systemwide search in which O’Rourke emerged as the sole applicant and the search committee’s recommended finalist based on his experience and leadership over the past year as CU Boulder navigated the complexities and challenges of a global pandemic. During the search process, O'Rourke interviewed with senior leadership, shared governance groups and students, faculty and staff.
DiStefano said O’Rourke’s “calm demeanor and steady leadership during one of the most challenging chapters in CU Boulder history” helped O’Rourke emerge as the top pick to lead the operational units encompassed by the Strategic Resources and Support (SRS) division.
“Pat is well-grounded in the university’s priorities and is committed to our success at every level, from addressing the challenges of COVID-19 to building greater fiscal resilience so we can continue to serve Colorado as a premier public research university and beacon to all who seek a high-quality college education,” DiStefano said. “He has earned not only my respect and confidence, but the respect and confidence of our campus and the broader Boulder community.”
As COO, O’Rourke will oversee all of SRS’s operational units, including enrollment management; finance and business strategy; human resources; information technology; infrastructure and sustainability; institutional equity and compliance; integrity, safety and compliance; strategic relations and communications; and government and community engagement.
For the past year, O’Rourke has worked closely with DiStefano and Provost Russ Moore on strategies and campuswide initiatives to establish and support a COVID-19-ready learning, teaching, research and work environment for 35,000 students and more than 9,000 faculty, staff and frontline employees. He has also worked side-by-side with the provost to more closely align the university’s academic and operational priorities.
Along with the chancellor and the provost, O’Rourke has provided students, faculty, staff, parents, elected officials, journalists and Boulder County residents with frequent updates on how the university is working to safeguard the campus community’s health and well-being.
“When Chancellor DiStefano asked me to fill in as interim COO last year, no one could have imagined what was ahead for our campus community. Our faculty, staff and students pulled together quickly to navigate the challenges and advance CU’s mission of teaching, research and service,” O’Rourke said.
“While we’re still responding to COVID-19, we must also plan for CU’s future. I look forward to building a more inclusive and engaged campus culture, optimizing campus resources to align with our mission, and building a safe, modern, and data-informed learning and working environment,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of our innovative community, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve our students, faculty, staff, frontline employees, broader communities and the state of Colorado.”
Before his tenure at CU Boulder, O’Rourke served as the lead litigation counsel for the CU system for seven years before being promoted and then serving an additional eight years as the vice president, university counsel and secretary of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Creighton University and a law degree from Georgetown University. In addition to his duties as the COO for the Boulder campus, he teaches as an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Law and at the Colorado School of Public Health on the Anschutz Medical Campus.