Published: March 11, 2021

Senior Strategic Advisor and former Vice Chancellor for Strategic Relations and Communications Frances Draper has announced she will be retiring from CU Boulder at the end of March. 

Draper made the initial announcement at a meeting of the Boulder City Council following comments on the CU South development process Wednesday night. 

Frances Draper

Frances Draper

“I’ve been thinking about it for some time now,” said Draper. “It’s the right time, and since I’ve spent the last couple of decades working on city and university issues, I thought a council discussion of a CU-city issues was the right place. This talented city and top university have a unique environment and relationship from which amazing partnerships can be built to meet the challenges we are facing.”

Draper has served as a senior strategic advisor on public policy and community relations since July 2019, leading the university’s partnership efforts with the city of Boulder. 

Prior to that role, she served from 2011 to 2019 as CU Boulder’s vice chancellor for strategic relations and communications. 

“In that role, Frances transformed the entire communications organization, mentoring me and our communications leadership team along the way with creativity, focus and tremendous energy to advance the university’s mission and goals,” said Jon Leslie, senior associate vice chancellor and chief communications officer, who succeeded Draper as head of the division. 

Chancellor Philip DiStefano said that in addition to her leadership of communications, Draper “transformed the city and university relationship in a truly historic way.” 

“Frances helped to firmly set us on a course of win-win thinking and policy,” said DiStefano. “She understands the city at a fundamental level, and the university at a fundamental level, and she has always sought to build our relationship on mutual respect and understanding. She has been indispensable in this role.” 

Draper is a longtime Boulder resident who has been prominently involved in organizations such as the United Way. She served on the board of Naturally Boulder and was a key figure in establishing CO-Labs, a consortium of Boulder-based research laboratories. 

She also led the Boulder Economic Council from 2006 to 2011. 

Asked about the legacy of her work, Draper said, “I hope it’s a simple testament to what can be achieved by working together.”