The University of Colorado Board of Regents received an update on student retention efforts during its regular meeting Nov. 3–4 at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
The regents also approved a resolution encouraging the campuses to develop additional Spanish language resources for prospective and incoming students, discussed a resolution related to the use of fetal stem cells in research, approved several faculty and alumni awards, and bid farewell to three regents whose terms are ending.
Student retention update
The regents received a campus-by-campus update on first-year student retention rates and plans to improve those rates, which are an area of focus in the CU System Strategic Plan.
At CU Boulder, 87.8% of first-year students who started in fall 2021 returned for sophomore year in fall 2022, setting a new campus record for retention.
Among students from underrepresented groups, which is defined in this instance as Hispanic, Black, American Indian and Pacific Islander, 81.8% of first-year students returned for sophomore year in fall 2022, falling slightly from a 82.4% retention rate the previous year.
The Boulder campus is engaged in several efforts aimed at increasing student retention, including strengthening the first-year academic advising network, enhancing recruitment partnerships with academic programs, continuing predictive analytics to identify students who need support, developing a Common Curriculum and increasing access to the First Year Experience program and Living Learning Communities.
The campus is also exploring additional steps focused on closing the gap between the overall student body and underrepresented minority students.
Campus leaders discussed specifics and answered questions from regents in breakout sessions during the meeting.
Spanish language resources
The board unanimously approved a resolution encouraging the campuses to continue producing resources related to applications, admissions, financial aid, orientation, housing and other topics in Spanish.
The campuses are already involved in such efforts, according to Regent Jack Kroll, and the resolution encourages them to regularly update the Finance Committee on costs involved with producing those resources.
The resolution notes that students from Spanish-speaking families are among the fastest growing demographic of college-eligible students in the state.
“We are obligated, I believe, as a university to make ourselves accessible to students in the state of Colorado,” Kroll said. “And many students in the state of Colorado come from families in which English is not the first language spoken at home.”
Resolution on fetal stem cell research
The board discussed a resolution from Regent Heidi Ganahl encouraging the university to strengthen its policies and practices to ensure that aborted human fetal tissue is never used for research purposes. The resolution calls on the Scientific Ethics Committee to seek alternative methods to accomplish the research.
“We are leading in so many things at CU, especially CU Anschutz, but this is one area where I think we can do better and make a statement and do better in stopping this practice,” Ganahl said.
Regent Ken Montera moved to return the resolution to the University Affairs Committee for further discussion, saying he wanted more information about current policies and procedures on the use of embryonic stem cells in research. The motion to return the topic to committee passed 7–2, with Regents Glen Gallegos and Ilana Spiegel voting against.
CU Boulder campus update
Chancellor Philip DiStefano provided an update on Boulder campus activities, including the results of Colorado Free Application Days, a program that allows Colorado residents to apply to all public and some private in-state colleges and universities for free.
CU Boulder received 10,483 applications this year, according to preliminary tallies—mostly first-year applications along with 212 transfer applications—which is an increase of 2% from last year’s Free Application Days.
He also described the campus’s decision this summer to shift Health and Wellness Services under Strategic Resources and Support to take a more holistic approach to mental health and wellness for faculty, staff and students.
“Supporting health and wellness is foundational to our success in the classroom, the laboratory and the workplace,” DiStefano said.
He noted only four weeks remain until the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit, which CU Boulder is hosting with United Nations Human Rights Dec. 1–4. Registration is now open on the summit website, along with information about the “Watch Globally, Engage Locally” event series focused on local experts and impacts of climate change.
Resolutions of appreciation
The Board of Regents recognized the service of three regents. Regent Sue Sharkey has served 12 years as a regent elected from Congressional District 4. Kroll has served six years as a regent elected from Congressional District 1. Ganahl has served six years as a regent elected at-large.
At the conclusion of their terms, the regents will be designated as regents emeriti for their dedication and service to the University of Colorado. This was their last regular board meeting.
The board also:
Approved the creation of the Larry Gold Endowed Professorship at CU Boulder. The professorship honors Gold, who has served as a professor in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department since 1969 and whose research focuses on human diseases.
Approved two tenure appointments and four sabbaticals for CU Boulder faculty members and several Distinguished Professor appointments. Approved recipients of honorary degrees, distinguished service awards and university medals for 2023. Those alumni and supporters will be publicly recognized in April.
Received a petition from a UCCS student government representative calling on the CU system to divest the system’s investments and endowment from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in clean energy by the end of 2027.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9–10, 2023, at the CU system office.