On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Beverly Orton Jones, director of industry partnerships at the CDHE, made a special visit to CU Denver. They spent the afternoon with campus leaders learning about the university’s successes and brainstorming innovative ways to strengthen higher education across Colorado.
The visit kicked off at Chancellor Dorothy Horrell’s office, where campus leadership elaborated on CU Denver’s alignment to CDHE’s strategic priorities, including efforts to provide accessible and affordable educational opportunities and erase equity gaps. Horrell outlined CU Denver’s unique student body and commitment to changing students’ trajectory in life through an unparalleled student experience.
- 49% of undergraduates are students of color, up 58% from 2012.
- 50% of undergraduates are first-generation.
Nairn reviewed CU Denver’s joint accreditation with CU Anschutz and highlighted the university’s collaborative research and joint academic programs. Sobanet discussed CU Denver’s incentive-based budget and planning model, showing efforts to contain costs, grow revenue, and reallocate resources in order to provide an affordable, quality education.
Since fall 2013, tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate resident have increased an average of only $286 per year, while institutional aid has grown from $8.9 million in 2016 to $12.6 million in 2019 (an increase of more than 41%).
The visit continued at LynxConnect, CU Denver’s one-stop-shop for career readiness. Paccione first heard from CU Denver’s Student Government Association President, Jamie Sutliff, and Vice President, Peter Waller. When asked what keeps them at CU Denver, Waller told Paccione, “Seeing an economics professor that taught me my freshman year, and having him remember my name and ask how I’m doing. That’s why I’m still here.” Sutliff said: “I got involved with SGA, and I found my home here.”
Next, Paccione and Orton Jones heard from Pam Jansma, PhD, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Jansma reviewed the CU Succeed Program, which allows high school students across Colorado to enroll in CU Denver credit-bearing courses taught at their high school by qualified lecturers at a reduced tuition rate. “Getting them thinking about coming to college,” Jansma said, “that is what’s really important.”
Over the past five years, CU Succeed has:
- Served 51% of all high school students participating in dual-enrollment courses across Colorado.
- Administered 158,000 college credits to participating high school students.
- Saved Colorado high school students an estimated $51 million in tuition dollars.
Genia Herndon, associate vice chancellor for student and community engagement, and Tony Smith, PhD, director of the Experiential Learning Center, discussed the benefits of LynxConnect, which encompasses the offices of CU Denver’s Experiential Learning Center, Career Center, Global Education Study Abroad, and Undergraduate Research. Eight peer advisors are on site Monday through Friday to quickly assist students with questions and needs regarding internships, work study, and jobs. “We are connecting students with relevant work,” Smith said.
Margaret Wood, PhD, associate vice chancellor of academic achievement and professor of anthropology, provided examples of the university’s student success initiatives, including an annual Undergraduate Experiences Symposium for faculty that focuses on student needs, a campaign to help faculty utilize Open Educational Resources (OER), the Inclusive Pedagogoy Academy, and more. “We’ve really decided that student success is everyone’s job, including faculty,” Wood said.
The visit closed with a discussion about CU Denver’s community and industry partnerships. Nolbert Chavez, chief of external initiatives, provided an update on CityCenter, CU Denver’s glass office in downtown Denver that serves as a direct link between the university and the surrounding urban environment and connects university expertise with civic, nonprofit, and business leaders. “It’s the manifestation of our brand, CU in the City,” said Chavez. Scot Chadwick, vice chancellor for enterprise development, concluded the day’s conversations by highlighting some of CU Denver’s educational partnerships with companies across Colorado, including an innovative program which allows employees of Vertex to pursue additional education through the university.