CU President Saliman visits CU Denver campus

President Saliman Hears About CU Denver’s Successes, Challenges in Listening Tour 

February 24, 2022

University of Colorado President Todd Saliman visited the CU Denver campus on Feb. 22 and asked a simple question to start his listening sessions with students, faculty, and staff: When we go on outreach tours across the state, what should we brag about? 

It turns out one metaphor was found just two blocks away from a well-known play at the Buell Theatre.  

“I just took my son to Hamilton,” said Chris Weible, a School of Public Affairs professor. “And we heard the song where Hamilton says ‘I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.’ At CU Denver, we’re just like that. … We’re a young campus so we don’t have those traditions that others do, so we can create those traditions.” 

Weible sat with a group of researchers who shared their success stories and struggles with Saliman, who took notes and listened intently. 

“We can do just as much cutting-edge research here as anyone else,” said Mark Golkowski, associate dean of education and student success at the College of Engineering, Design and Computing. “We just need to be better known. The people who discover us appreciate us.” 

Saliman spent the day on campus for five sessions, meeting with groups that included Strategic Plan vision teams; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) representatives; researchers; faculty/faculty governance leaders; and student leaders. Chancellor Michelle Marks hosted him for the day and joined various sessions. CU Denver was the president’s third stop on a four-campus listening tour. 

Chancellor Michelle Marks and University of Colorado President Todd Saliman.

Saliman heard about students, faculty, and staff’s excitement for being here during a transformative period, which includes a new Strategic Plan, a refresh of the university’s brand, preparing for next year’s 50th anniversary, attainment of Hispanic-Serving Institution status in October 2021, and progress toward becoming an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. The president also heard about challenges facing the university, including the need to hire more faculty and staff of color, difficulty retaining top talent amid the “Great Resignation,” and the desire to have CU Denver’s name more recognized around the state and nation.    

Saliman acknowledged those challenges and the imperative to keep elevating the university. At the April 7 Board of Regents meeting, university staff will share results from the Fall 2021 Campus & Workplace Culture Survey. While those results will help inform specific action items, “we don’t need those results to tell us we have more work to do,” Saliman said. “… We can’t just put a bow on what we are doing now. We always need to improve.” 

Holistically, Saliman said the university system wants to do a better job describing the attributes that make each CU campus special and unique to Colorado. Especially in rural areas of the state, perceptions are off on the affordability of a degree. 

“There are a lot of people who think we are more expensive than we are,” he said. 

About 20 students joined Saliman for lunch in the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center for an open session on what they enjoy about CU Denver and what changes would enhance their experience. Topics mainly focused on DEI, including improving gender equity, enthusiasm for CU Denver’s former HSI status, and support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students.  

During a later session with faculty, Saliman remarked at how impressed he was with the students’ passion. 

“It’s clear they are engaged and have great pride in being here.”