2021; photo credit Winter vector created by starline - www.freepik.com

CU Denver’s Top 10 Stories of 2021

December 20, 2021

CU Denver News and our Lynx community saw a lot more happy stories in 2021 than in the previous year. Thanks to science-based safety measures, CU Denver largely returned to in-person learning for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Many students, faculty, and staff were back on campus, which looked even better with the new Lynx Crossing Residence Hall and Learning Commons. We also added a wonderful selfie spot with our new larger-than-life Lynx statue. But the year was not without tragedies and losing members of our beloved Lynx community, including SEHD Dean Rebecca Kantor. Their good deeds inspire us to keep their memories alive through continuous progress at CU Denver. See the selection below for the most important and top-clicked stories of 2021.

CU Denver campus

‘Work for All’: How CU Denver Will Become a Leading Public Urban Research University by 2030

On June 17, Chancellor Marks presented to the CU Board of Regents the 2030 strategic plan, a profound repositioning of CU Denver to be a public urban research university that works for all: learners of all kinds and at all stages of life, industries and employers that need talent ready to hit the ground running, and communities requiring new solutions and discoveries. “CU Denver 2030: Make Education Work for All” contains big, bold ideas, including the aspiration to become the nation’s first equity-serving institution and the desire to be a “university for life” that continuously serves the needs of learners—and employers—over a lifetime.

CU Denver campus with message 'Proud to serve Colorado Hispanic Communitities'

CU Denver Recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution

The University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus became the first research university in the state to attain status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), according to an October 2021 designation by the U.S. Department of Education in October. To qualify for this status, a university must have undergraduate full-time enrollment that is comprised of at least 25% Hispanic students and demonstrate a high concentration of students who are eligible for Pell Grants. Practically, this public recognition by the federal government helps to provide additional grant opportunities to further support Hispanic student services, as well as infrastructure improvements that benefit the entire university. 

displaced Aurarians on campus
Nick (Juju) Arguello, front and center, with his extended family at an altar ceremony at his childhood home in the Ninth Street Historic District.

Honoring Displaced Aurarians and Their Families, Now and Into the Future

On Nov. 4 Nick (Juju) Arguello was one of dozens of former Aurarians and descendants of Aurarian families in attendance at a ceremony at St. Cajetan’s Church, minutes from his childhood home. The event was hosted by CU Denver to honor the expansion of the Displaced Aurarian Scholarship, approved by the CU Board of Regents that day. Under the new resolution, CU Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), and the Community College of Denver (CCD) will offer tuition-free education to all direct descendants of Aurarians who lived in the neighborhood from 1955 to 1973.


U.S. News & World Report: CU Denver Ranks No. 1 for Social Mobility in Colorado

U.S. News & World Report released its 2022 Best Colleges rankings, naming CU Denver as a top-performing school for social mobility. CU Denver is officially ranked 1st in Colorado and 55th in the nation in social mobility. Having ranked 106th in 2021, the jump shows the university’s commitment to making higher education accessible to all, the central goal of the 2030 Strategic Plan

Dean Rebecca Kantor

CU Denver Mourns the Loss of Dean Kantor

On Thursday, April 22, the CU Denver community learned that the School of Education & Human Development’s dean, Rebecca Kantor, EdD, passed away from a terminal illness. A forward-thinking, influential, tireless education champion, Dean Kantor served the university for almost a decade, touching the lives of innumerable students, faculty, and staff. Dean Kantor developed a robust career as an early childhood teacher, researcher, professor of teacher education, education policy reformer, and public university administrator. Since arriving at CU Denver in 2012, she led the continuing transformation of the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) into an innovative school that offers contemporary, responsive, and flexible educator, counselor, and researcher preparation.

City Heights

New City Heights Residence Hall and Learning Commons Opens

City Heights Residence Hall and Learning Commons isn’t just a new dorm–it’s a gamechanger for CU Denver. It’s a space where first-year students will live together for the first time in the university’s history. A space where they will study together in shared nooks, cook together in communal kitchenettes, and foster lifelong friendships. It’s a space where all CU Denver students will get academic support through hands-on services such as Math and Statistics Support, Writing Center, and Learning Resources Center. It’s a space where students, faculty, and staff will connect over a meal in the new dining hall, or get some fresh air on a spacious park-like courtyard. The university’s first on-campus housing dedicated to first-year students officially opened its doors Aug. 12. 

Photo collage featuring Anthony Graves, Monique Snowden, and Constancio Nakuma, with a photo of CU Denver

CU Denver Has Bright Future with Three New Leadership Hires

Three seasoned higher education luminaries are soon joining the ranks of CU Denver’s leadership team, bringing a cumulative 80+ years of deep and varied education experience. These positions will focus on leading academic innovation and advancement, enhancing student success, and fortifying strategic partnerships, setting CU Denver up for long-lasting success. In recent weeks, the university announced Constancio Nakuma, PhD, as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Monique L. Snowden, PhD, as Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success, and Anthony E. Graves as the inaugural Managing Director of Partnerships and Innovation.

Chancellor Marks with student

Q&A: Chancellor Michelle Marks Reflects on the Past Year of Challenges, Positive Disruptions

Chancellor Michelle Marks joined CU Denver during one of the most challenging years in modern history. A global pandemic. Social injustice. Political unrest. Under her leadership, CU Denver persevered, and plans are well underway for a full return to campus this fall. As Marks reflects on the past year, she’s optimistic that CU Denver will use lessons learned to progress into an even more innovative, inclusive, and excellent institution. 

COVID-19 vaccination card

None of the 19 State-Led Vaccine Lotteries Led to Increased Vaccinations, New CU Denver Study Finds

This summer, with fear that COVID-19 vaccination rates were insufficient to control the virus, states across the nation began to employ what was then considered a novel tactic for increasing shots in arms—large cash drawings that you could enter by being vaccinated. While these lotteries were a seemingly enticing method, a first-of-its-kind study shows that these efforts, which occurred in 19 different states, did little to move the needle in terms of increasing vaccination rates. Researchers suggest that other methods, such as better messaging surrounding the benefits of vaccination, might have been more effective. “Statistically speaking, our research points to a disappointing outcome—that is, there was no significant association found between a cash-drawing announcement and the number of vaccinations administered after the announcement date,” said Andrew Friedson, PhD, associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.

COVID-19 model

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 CU Denver Pandemic Research and Creative Activities Awards

The University of Colorado Denver is proud to announce the winners of the CU Denver 2021 Pandemic Research and Creative Activities Award. The strength and diversity of our research community—a talent pool of economists, chemists, policy wonks, urban planners, bioengineers, and more—made narrowing down our list difficult. Each of the nominees drew on their expertise to tackle the parts of the pandemic that affect our daily lives. “In an ongoing global pandemic, local research through a local lens will do more to shape how we persevere and protect ourselves in the future,” says Martin Dunn, dean of the College of Engineering, Design and Computing, and interim Chief Research Officer. He and his team in the Office of Research Services read through more than 50 nominations to make their selections.