Takeaways from the Chancellor’s Virtual Town Hall

November 15, 2021

On Nov. 10, CU Denver leaders convened for a virtual town hall to update faculty and staff on campuswide initiatives and COVID-related news, and to answer questions submitted ahead of time and during a live Q&A. 

Chancellor Michelle Marks kicked off her remarks by thanking faculty and staff for continuing to follow health and safety protocols as Colorado sees an uptick in COVID-19 cases. All faculty and staff are encouraged to get a booster shot, offered at the Health Center at Auraria, and stay up-to-date on COVID-related news by checking the Thursday Lynx Together roundup in CU Denver News. Marks also reminded attendees that both work and taking care of ourselves are important.

“Our research and creative work improve society, benefit the world, and bring opportunity to those who have traditionally been left out or underserved. That’s real, transformative value,” Marks said. “But we must also recognize that this is a time to focus on self-care, family care, and community care … I know that as a community, we need to do even more to commit to the personal wellbeing of each and every one of you going forward. And we will.”

Progress Made on Strategic Plan Goals 

CU Denver has made strides in the five goals outlined in its visionary 2030 Strategic Plan. Some examples include: 

Goal 1 (first-Equity Serving Institution in the Nation): CU Denver’s official designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Goal 2 (university for life):The launch of a digital strategy task force to focus on the university’s digital education infrastructure, led by Associate Vice Chancellor for Digital Strategy and Learning Katie Linder; the launch of an interdisciplinary computing task force to build a vision for computing education at CU Denver, led by chief computing officer Doug Sicker; and the beginning of the process to develop a strategic enrollment plan to establish and achieve enrollment goals to ensure CU Denver’s vitality, led by Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success Monique Snowden. 

Goal 3 (internationally known for research and creative work): The completion of one of two research and creative work symposiums to identify the first two grand challenges the university will address.

Goal 4 (anchor for open innovation district): The planning of a new Engineering, Design and Computing Building that will serve as the anchor for CU Denver’s open innovation district.

Goal 5 (people-centered best place to work): A compensation plan for the upcoming year that includes an across-the-board 3% base-building salary increase, and a one-time payment equal to 1% of an employee’s annual salary for all eligible faculty and university staff. 

Provost Constancio Nakuma encouraged all faculty to get involved in the university’s research and creative activities by participating in or attending the second research symposium on Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. “Looking further ahead in the academic year, we’ll be taking proposals for seed funding and support in mid-March and selections will be made by late April as we dial in on the two to three grand challenges CU Denver will pursue,” Nakuma said.

Governor’s Budget and Merit Pool/Salary Increases

This fiscal year, the CU System didn’t hit enrollment-related revenue thresholds for compensation increases, CFO Todd Haggerty shared. Still, the CU Board of Regents and campus chancellors felt it was necessary to recognize the dedication of faculty and staff, which is why the January 2022 compensation plan was approved. 

Haggerty emphasized that moving forward, the university must meet its revenue thresholds to reach financially stability. By April 2022, CU Denver will have a clearer picture of the upcoming fiscal year, including the impact of state funding and cost increases. The university continues to prioritize getting “its resources in line with priorities,” Haggerty said. That includes its people and items that will move the Strategic Plan forward.

Strategic Plan Engagement Portal 

Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration and Strategy Jennifer Sobanet and Director of Strategic Plan Implementation Mitch Morecraft have spent the fall semester meeting with campus community members to create roadmaps for year one of the Strategic Plan. In the next two weeks, a “Strategic Plan Engagement Hub” website will launch to provide updates on goal progress, ways to get involved, and celebrate successes. Campus community members will have access through single sign-on.

Quick Updates 

  • Alongside Metropolitan State University Denver and Community College of Denver, CU Denver announced a tri-institutional expansion of the Displaced Aurarian Scholarship. Starting in spring 2022, any direct descendant of the displaced families, not just children or grandchildren, will be eligible for this scholarship for undergraduate or graduate school, without any limits to credit hours.
  • US News & World Report ranked CU Denver the No. 1 institution for social mobility (an indicator of how low-income students are succeeding) in Colorado.
  • Professor Stephen Gedney in the College of Engineering, Design and Computing and Professor Mary Guy in the School of Public Affairs have been honored as 2021 CU Distinguished Professors, the highest CU faculty honors. Guy is the first woman in CU Denver history to receive this title. 
  • On Nov. 17, the Board of Regents is hosting a CU presidential search forum to gain feedback from the CU Denver community from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Lawrence Street Center Terrace Room, second floor.