CU Denver’s Commitment to Improving Student Success Lands Rare Opportunity to Join University Innovation Alliance

CU Denver is first and only Colorado university to join the University Innovation Alliance

September 27, 2022

The University of Colorado Denver today became one of only 15 institutions nationally to be selected to join the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a coalition of the most innovative universities in the country teaming up to dramatically increase the number and diversity of college graduates in an effort to protect the economic competitiveness of the United States. 

The award winning UIA is a pioneering and innovative consortium of public research universities acting as a multi campus laboratory for student success innovation, accelerating and implementing proven solutions to increase the number and diversity of U.S. college graduates. 

Membership in the UIA is reserved for select large public research universities committed to eliminating disparities in educational outcomes across student populations. UIA members are willing to set ambitious goals, innovate together, transparently share their data for accountability, hold down institutional costs, and openly share insights and learning from failure. 

“CU Denver was selected to join the UIA because of its demonstrated commitment to enrolling and serving a high percentage of low-income students and students of color, their commitment to collaboration and willingness to share learning and insights in real-time, and most importantly, because of the leadership of Chancellor Michelle Marks. Chancellor Marks has long been a friend and colleague of the UIA and its board of presidents and chancellors, and her leadership set CU Denver apart. We are thrilled to partner with CU Denver on our shared goals, and are delighted to have the Rocky Mountain region represented in the UIA. Their inclusion in the UIA will bring great value for Colorado, as they will be able to diffuse the work and learning of the UIA directly with other Colorado institutions,” said UIA CEO Dr. Bridget Burns.

Membership in the UIA aligns directly with CU Denver’s first Strategic Plan goal to become an equity-serving institution. With more than half its students identifying as people of color, it is essential for the university to develop bold data-driven and student-centered initiatives that will increase student success as demonstrated by increased retention and graduation rates.

Since its founding in 2014, UIA has improved college graduation outcomes through concerted efforts and programs to help students succeed. Grants, scholarships, the sharing of best practices, including the use of data-based decision making, are among the strategies that have led to its success. UIA members have graduated more than 100,000 additional students since 2014 and increased the number of annual graduates by 30 percent, the number of annual graduates from low-income backgrounds by 46 percent, and the number of annual graduates of color by 85 percent. The founding institutions are now projected to graduate a total of 136,000 students by 2025—double the original goal the group set at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action in 2014. 

“The UIA and CU Denver share a similar passion—to provide access and a path toward success for all students, including those historically underserved by higher education,” said CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks. “Our American system of higher education was designed to cater to the privileged few. To counter our ongoing racial, socioeconomic, and gender equity gaps, we need to radically rethink who and how we educate not only because it is the right thing to do, but because our local, state, and national economies need us to do more to meet workforce needs. We are doing that here in Denver by pursuing bold initiatives, such as our ambition to make education work for all. We are honored to be part of the UIA, which is pursuing similar goals for all students.”

CU Denver’s commitment to students is transforming lives. Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report for a second consecutive year ranked CU Denver #1 in Colorado for social mobility. With half of the university’s students identifying as first-generation students, supporting student success is a primary mission. Partnerships like the one with the UIA provide an opportunity to share and learn research-based best practices and for CU Denver to broaden its impact in Denver, the state, and the region.