Campus leaders in the research space convened April 15 to provide a virtual update to faculty and staff on the progress made on CU Denver’s 2030 Strategic Plan Goal 3: becoming internationally known for research and creative activities. The Community Conversations session featured panelists Provost Constancio Nakuma; College of Engineering, Design and Computing Dean and Interim Chief Research Officer Martin Dunn; Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias; and Vice Chancellor of Research for CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Thomas Flaig.
The interactive discussion showed the enthusiasm and commitment to CU Denver’s research enterprise and the work being done to elevate research and creative work campuswide. Nakuma said to the audience of more than 50 faculty and staff: “You believe in exactly what it is that we’re trying to promote, which is to make our research as visible as we can nationally and internationally. Whether you’re supporting the researchers or you are a researcher yourself, this is a very important moment.”
Below are four key takeaways from the event. Faculty and staff are encouraged to watch the full recording for more information.
New AVC of Research Joins CU Denver Aug. 1
Nakuma and Flaig thanked Dunn for his leadership as interim chief research officer while the university conducted a nationwide search for the position. On Aug. 1, CU Denver will welcome Phillip DeLeon, PhD, a two-time CU Boulder alum and the current associate vice president for research and chief science officer at New Mexico State University (NMSU), who will report to Nakuma and work closely with Flaig.
“We’re starting to schedule weekly meetings to talk with Phillip over the next few months so he can hit the ground running when he joins in August,” Dunn said, adding that DeLeon’s leadership will help create a stronger voice for research across the campus..
Grand Challenges to be Announced in May
In mid-May, following a thorough review process, CU Denver will announce the two to three Research Grand Challenges it will fund to grow the university’s research enterprise to achieve national and international prominence. The selection comes after a series of Strategic Plan Research Symposiums, where the university’s faculty pitched ideas that could become one of five research topics that solve complex, global problems.
“Let me remind everybody, this is going to be an annual process. This was our first year and we’re going to learn a lot from how your inputs guide us in terms of how we make any changes,” Nakuma said.
Status as Minority-Serving Institution Offers Research Opportunities
Farias shared an update with the campus community on CU Denver’s Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status. CU Denver received its official HSI status in October 2021, meaning that it met the federal threshold of serving an undergraduate student body that is at least 25% Hispanic. CU Denver’s Hispanic undergraduate enrollment declined by 1/2 of a percent in fall 2020, caused largely by the pandemic, preventing the university from self-certifying as an HSI using the Higher Education Act-defined formula for fiscal year 2022-23.
CU Denver is one of 15 schools that due to the disparate impact of COVID on Hispanic students dropped out of official HSI status this year. For next steps, the university will be maximizing its efforts to provide comprehensive support to its current Latinx students and to develop more effective recruitment and retention strategies focused on attracting and retaining recent Latinx high school graduates and adult learners.
In terms of funding, “our strategy is strong,” Farias said. “Our internal funding is moving in the right direction. We’re confident that we’re still going to be able to compete for other grants that are for minority-serving institutions (MSI).”
MSIs are higher education institutions that serve minority populations. Students of color make up half of CU Denver’s undergraduate population, and this year the university is confident it will achieve AANAPISI status, which means CU Denver meets the MSI qualifications and opens additional opportunities for funding.
More information will be shared during the April 21 Chancellor’s Town Hall and FAQs for the campus community are in process.
Tuition Remission Program for PhD Students to be Piloted in Fall Semester Academic Year 2023
CU Denver, as part of its commitment to investing in research and graduate education, is working on a plan to pilot a tuition remission program in academic year 2023-24 to support and retain doctoral students, Dunn said. The initiative’s planning is in the early stages but in essence seeks to provide partial tuition remission as part of the compensation for doctoral students who are supported as research assistants at a certain level. This will increase CU Denver’s competitiveness in both attracting doctoral students as well as extramural funding to support its students.
“One of the things we’ve talked about in our strategic planning and in our vision team report is better connecting our research enterprise to our graduate programs,” Dunn said. “I am thrilled that the university has approached this from a perspective of sustainability—we will start modest and grow it as we see success.”