Published: March 4, 2022

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of campus updates on CU Boulder’s efforts to build a common student-centered approach to teaching and learning. This series will continue throughout the academic year.

The Buff Undergraduate Success Leadership Implementation Team (BUS-LIT) is continuing its work from the fall semester and recently formed five working groups to address student success priorities specific to the following areas:

  • Alternative College Option (ACO) and Program in Exploratory Studies (PES) student needs
  • Student services and support
  • Academic support
  • Academic and social community
  • Academic complexity

The following 10 commitments have emerged from the BUS team to be put in place for the fall 2022 semester or earlier:

  1. To revise the grade replacement policy to automate grade replacement rather than having an “opt-in”
  2. To create a new “S/U” (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) grading basis for courses currently listed under the “P/F only” grading basis
  3. To make academic standing terminology and standards uniform across schools and colleges
  4. To make intra-university transfer (IUT) deadlines and late withdrawal deadlines uniform across schools and colleges
  5. To make Buff Info the single portal for incoming questions about the campus
  6. To complete Step 1 of a multi-tiered process to improve the transition of students from “new admits” to “new students”
  7. To communicate clear expectations to students newly admitted to ACO/PES along with clear instructions for how to transfer into their school or college of their choice, via IUT
  8. To reduce the number of students admitted to PES to enhance the program's focus on helping students explore their major and course of study options at CU Boulder
  9. To clear transfer-credit analysis backlog 
  10. To create a new basic needs department in Student Affairs, unifying currently scattered efforts and resources for students who are facing challenges such as food insecurity and housing insecurity

Additionally, the working groups have submitted more than 50 proposed solutions for barriers to student success at CU Boulder. These barriers were identified either through the comprehensive input processes of Academic Futures, the IDEA Plan, and the Foundations of Excellence initiative, or through direct stakeholder input this fall.

The BUS-LIT is beginning to review and prioritize these proposed solutions to incorporate additional priority projects for next fall. The following four groupings have emerged that will help to sort solutions into areas of effort based on their expected overall impact and the time/resource investments needed:

  • Academic Systems and Structures: An example of a priority project is to ensure the academic progress of first-year ACO and PES students by improving their access to courses required for IUTs.
  • Teaching Quality and Learning Support: One priority project is to create a Large Course Institute through the Center for Teaching and Learning to provide departments with support for new, innovative approaches to improving student learning in large courses.
  • First-year Student Engagement: One priority project is to integrate student service and feedback channels in a way that enables more regular, direct student input into their own experiences and needs on campus. This input will inform and influence campus priorities and decision making related to student success. Beginning with new students as they matriculate over the summer, into Fall Welcome, and the first six weeks of the fall semester and beyond, this approach to a more tailored first-year student engagement experience will provide first-year students with information and resources when and where they need them as they experience college for the first time. 
  • Campus Traditions and Belonging: Priority projects in this area will seek to identify, strengthen and establish ways to increase and solidify each student’s sense of belonging early on as well as throughout their undergraduate career at CU Boulder. No matter what our students' identities or backgrounds are, they should have traditions to look forward to and pass on to future Buffs through common experiences across identities, colleges and majors. 

With gratitude for the leadership and contributions of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Akirah Bradley-Armstrong since BUS-LIT’s formation this fall, the team is excited to welcome Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Joe Thomas to the Buff Undergraduate Success leadership team, where he will work alongside Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning & Assessment Katherine Eggert, Chief Information Officer Marin Stanek and Chief Communications Officer Jon Leslie to guide the BUS-LIT’s efforts. Thomas will take over as the sole Student Affairs representative on the BUS-LIT leadership team when Bradley-Armstrong leaves CU Boulder later this spring.

The BUS-LIT will share more details on the above groupings as more priorities are established and as the BUS-LIT turns from identifying priorities to activating project teams in the coming month.

Common Curriculum Planning Committee to hold town halls, seeks campus feedback on proposed learning goals

The Common Curriculum Planning Committee is hosting a series of town halls in April to share its work with campus and engage in critical discussion about learning goals. Convened by the provost last fall, the committee is drafting goals and learning outcomes to provide common educational touchpoints to all CU Boulder students, regardless of their degree program. 

The committee intends for its initial conclusions to serve as a springboard for further discussion. Ultimately, the work of meshing a finalized common curriculum proposal with specific courses, degree programs, or college/school degree requirements will be the task of an implementation group to be convened in the next academic year.

More information about the series of town halls for the campus community and registration details will be provided in the coming weeks. 

In drafting its recommendations, the committee has identified and reflected on major themes that arose during a listening tour last spring that involved more than 1,000 faculty, staff and students across 70 tour stops involving academic units, shared governance groups, student groups and academic support organizations. The committee also studied common curriculum models from across the country, including those of peer universities.

Work to create an engaging and effective common learning experience, and a common set of learning outcomes for CU Boulder undergraduates, is grounded in the 2018 report of the Academic Futures Committee, which called for the development of common undergraduate educational touchpoints; the conclusions of the 2019 Interdisciplinary Working Group, including to develop a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary undergraduate educational experiences; and the 2020 report of the Higher Learning Commission, CU Boulder’s accrediting body. These calls were formally endorsed by Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.

The Common Curriculum Planning Committee includes faculty representatives from each of CU Boulder's colleges and schools with undergraduate programs (the College of Arts and Sciences; the Leeds School of Business; the School of Education; the College of Engineering and Applied Science; the College of Media, Communication and Information; and the College of Music), as well as faculty members representing the University Libraries and the Boulder Faculty Assembly, student representatives appointed by the University of Colorado Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government, and professional staff members working in academic and student affairs administration.