A Message from the President

April 2009

In This Issue...
  1. Chancellor search
  2. Budget update
  3. 5.5 million gift for UCCS
  4. Faculty of distinction
  5. Tom Cech's return
  6. Churchill verdict
  7. Task Force on Efficiency
  8. LEED certification at UCCS
  9. News from our campuses

President Bruce Benson
President Bruce D. Benson

Dear Alumni and Friends,
As we had anticipated, Boulder campus Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson assumed the presidency of Georgia Tech on April 1. It is a golden opportunity for Dr. Peterson, who is an engineer, to lead one of the nation's premier engineering institutions. He accomplished much in nearly three years at the helm in Boulder. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in Georgia.

On March 12, I appointed Dr. Phil DiStefano interim chancellor. He will provide continuity during a challenging time in the university's history. He is a proven leader with a deep knowledge not only of the Boulder campus, but also higher education in Colorado and beyond. I have a great deal of confidence in his abilities and trust in him personally. He will continue to build on the leadership he has demonstrated over his 35 years at CU.

He will help us address the critical issues facing the campus, including budget challenges, national re-accreditation, as well as continued implementation of the Flagship 2030 strategic plan. Dr. DiStefano has demonstrated his abilities to solve difficult issues and to confront problems.

To take advantage of the talent on the Boulder campus, we will conduct an internal search for the permanent chancellor. We have formed a search committee that represents key campus constituencies, as well as alumni and donors.

We will proceed quickly, but not hastily. It is important that we do so because of the significant challenges we face and also so we can get full participation from the campus community before spring semester ends. If the internal search does not result in outstanding candidates, we will conduct a national search.

I am committed to finding an exceptional leader for the Boulder campus. We have a solid foundation in place, but we need to continue to build on it so that CU-Boulder continues to be one of the top national comprehensive research universities in the United States.

Bruce D. Benson

Budget Issues
As I reported to you in my previous newsletter, CU is facing significant budget challenges. If anything, our budget situation has gotten worse since my last newsletter in early February. The state's revenue forecast issued in mid-March showed continued declines.

Over the coming months, CU must cut at least $8 million from its budget this fiscal year (which ends June 30), with more to come over the next couple of fiscal years. The Legislature is determining the extent of further cuts as its session draws to a close.

Due to a tangle of sometimes-competing state constitutional provisions and federal funding mandates such as Medicare and Medicaid, higher education is one of the few areas of Colorado's budget where lawmakers have discretion to cut.

Everything is on the table at CU as we adjust our budget downward. Our guiding principle is that we will try to ensure access and quality while protecting our academic and research enterprises as much as possible.

Many believe that federal stimulus funding will eliminate the need for cuts. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced that some stimulus funding will fill holes in the state budget on a one-time basis. The effect on higher education is that stimulus money will provide some short-term relief, but will not change the deep cuts we have to take.

However, CU is aggressively pursuing stimulus funding, both in Denver and in Washington, D.C. We have engaged the services of a firm run by CU alumni Norm Brownstein and Steve Farber to help secure new funding from federal agencies where CU already has strong connections, such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. I believe we have one of the strongest efforts in the country (with our faculty researchers, deans, staff and others) working together to obtain funding.

Our other sources of revenue are holding steady. Early projections show our enrollment (and its attendant tuition revenue) is healthy across our campuses. Our federal research funding is maintaining good levels. Donor funding is understandably down, but the number of donors is up, a positive sign.

Bad budgets pose challenges, but they also offer opportunity. We are taking a fundamental look at how the University of Colorado operates and are asking ourselves how we can do it more efficiently and effectively.

UCCS Receives Anonymous $5.5 Million Scholarship Gift
Despite the tough economy, a generous but anonymous donor contributed a $5.5 million gift to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to boost student scholarships and fund other high-priority needs on our dynamic southern Colorado campus.

The donor asked only that the university use $5 million to benefit UCCS students. Campus leaders created a scholarship fund, and will use the remaining $500,000 to meet strategic goals.

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak is extraordinarily grateful for the gift. She noted that the donor wanted to help keep college affordable and accessible during these difficult economic times-a wish that is in perfect alignment with her campus's goals and the university's goals.

UCCS and the CU Foundation announced the gift in March. Scholarships will target high-ability, low-income students who are the first in their families to attend college, are members of underrepresented ethnic minority groups, or are women who are seeking a fresh start following divorce, abuse or recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.

While we always appreciate what our donors do for us, we are especially grateful to those who remember the great value of higher education during economic downturns. Simply put, college changes lives. In the end, we all win when self discovery leads to new discoveries. On behalf of the entire CU community, I want to thank all our supporters.

Faculty of Distinction
CU faculty distinguish themselves every day in classrooms, research laboratories and communities. A few of our faculty received recognition recently that is particularly notable.

Thomas Andrews, a history professor at our Downtown Denver campus, won the prestigious Bancroft Prize, awarded by Columbia University. The prize, one of the top in the field of history, is awarded for works of exceptional merit in U.S. history, biography or diplomacy. More than 200 works were considered this year.

Professor Andrews' book "Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War" chronicles the 1913-14 labor strike in Ludlow, Colo. Nearly 100 died in the strike, but the deadliest event was the "Ludlow massacre," where 20 people were killed.

Professor Andrews, a Colorado native, spent nearly a decade writing the book.
Two University of Colorado at Boulder researchers and one from the Anschutz Medical Campus are among 50 scientists who will receive coveted Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist awards in 2009.

Joaquin Espinosa, an assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and Rob Knight, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry as well as computer science, are the recipients from CU-Boulder. Jeffrey S Kieft of the School of Medicine is the recipient from the Anschutz Medical Campus. Kieft is drawing national attention for his work to shed more light on RNA, or ribonucleic acid, the genetic peer of DNA.

HHMI will provide each Early Career Scientist with his or her full salary, benefits and a research budget of $1.5 million over the six-year appointment. The institute will also cover other expenses, including research space and the purchase of critical equipment. The awards come with a six-year appointment to the institute and, along with it, the freedom to explore ideas and the funding to do so. HHMI's investment will allow these researchers to concentrate on making discoveries in the laboratory and for training the next generation of scientists.

Welcome Back, Dr. Cech
CU will get more from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) than the prestigious awards mentioned above. Our first Nobel laureate, Tom Cech, who has been HHMI's president since 2000, is returning to CU-Boulder this month to teach, research and direct the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biology (CIMB).

Cech, a Distinguished Professor in CU-Boulder's Chemistry and Biochemistry department, will teach a general chemistry course to undergraduates in the fall. He says he believes teachers can have the greatest impact on students if they can catch them early in their college years and get them excited. He will also continue his research efforts at CU, which have been ongoing while he led HHMI.

CIMB was founded in 2003 to foster research, teaching and technology development at the intersection of life sciences, physical sciences, math, computational sciences and engineering. Cech will work closely with Professor Leslie Leinwand, the current director.

Churchill Verdict
A Denver District Court jury on April 2 ruled that CU violated former professor Ward Churchill's First Amendment rights when the university fired him in 2007. The jury awarded Churchill $1 in damages and no back pay. Judge Larry Naves, who presided over the trial, will review Churchill's request to be reinstated. We expect the judge's decisions to come in early summer.

We are disappointed in the verdict and disagree with it. We maintain that we fired Churchill for academic misconduct, not for his inflammatory 9/11 essay that compared victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center to notorious Nazi Adolph Eichmann.

The verdict does not change the fact that more than 20 of Churchill's faculty peers, serving on three separate panels, unanimously found he engaged in serious, repeated and deliberate plagiarism, fabrication and falsification that fell below the minimum standards of professional conduct.

Since there are still legal issues to be decided as a result of the verdict, we are being circumspect in our comments.

Task Force on Efficiency
I told you in the December edition of this newsletter about our Task Force on Efficiency, whose charge was to find ways to streamline CU's administrative processes. In forums held when I was a candidate for president, and in the year since I assumed the post, faculty and staff have consistently told me we are overregulated, swimming in often-unnecessary paperwork and regulation. I often use the example that we shouldn't spend $5,000 to save $500. We can fulfill our accountability obligations while eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy.

The 18-member task force practiced the efficiency it preached, completing the initial phase of its work in four short months. It held 35 open forums across the CU system and took electronic feedback as well. Faculty, staff and students provided more than 700 suggestions.

It presented its report to me in mid-March. It contains 36 specific recommendations and lists the "Top 10 Aggravators" for faculty and staff. Among the recommendations is raising the dollar threshold on event forms from $100 to $500. This will eliminate 8,000 forms annually. Raising the threshold for small-dollar purchases from $4,500 to $5,000 will eliminate 1,300 forms annually.

The process of ensuring efficiency is ongoing, and the task force will continue to meet periodically. Additionally, one of the charges to the University Policy Office is to continually examine our policies and practices for efficiency.

UCCS Gold Certification for Green Building
Our Colorado Springs campus has one of the greenest recreation centers in the nation. On March 17, UCCS celebrated the gold certification its Campus Recreation Center received from the U.S. Green Building Council. The national trade group awards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification only to those structures that feature the best in energy efficiency and other green building technologies. The Campus Recreation Center is the first UCCS building to obtain a LEED gold certification, and the only public building in southern Colorado to do so. In addition, the building is believed to be one of only two LEED gold-certified recreation centers in the United States. With the addition of the UCCS recreation center, the CU system now has a growing cadre of buildings that have received gold or silver LEED certification. The CU-Boulder campus alone boasts five LEED-certified buildings, including the gold-certified Wolf Law, ATLAS, Koelbel buildings and Arnett Hall, and the silver-certified University Memorial Center. As we look toward the future, more of our campus buildings are sure to feature green technologies. These accomplishments are due in large part to our students, who have advocated for environmentally sound construction, low-maintenance landscaping and greater energy efficiency and resource conservation.

News from Our Campuses

The University of Colorado Denver recently added Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado Legislature's House of Representatives, to its faculty at the School of Public Affairs. Romanoff, who is a Scholar in Residence, will teach in the master's of public administration program, serve as a guest lecturer and write policy briefs and reports, among other academic and public service duties. He joins a diverse team of colleagues with public-sector experience, including former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, who teaches in the Wirth Chair. Romanoff and Hart will both teach through the Wirth Chair, which is supported by an endowment.

Police officers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will be among the first in Colorado to drive patrol cars guaranteed to deliver more than 40 miles to the gallon. Two Toyota Prius hybrid patrol cars recently made their debut on campus. UCCS Police Chief Jim Spice says the green cars will replace two sport utility vehicles the campus used for a decade. Spice says the motivation for purchasing the new vehicles was simple: greater fuel efficiency, which falls in line with UCCS' overall efforts to create a greener campus and reach sustainability goals. The cars will pay for themselves in fuel savings over their estimated life, according to the chief.

A Boulder, Colo., landscaper helped uncover a cache of ancient stone tools that University of Colorado at Boulder anthropology Professor Douglas Bamforth and his colleagues traced back 13,000 years to the Clovis era. The unusual find in a Boulder man's garden has drawn international scientific interest because of the size and quality of the archaeological find. The Mahaffy Cache, named after Boulder resident and landowner Patrick Mahaffy, contains animal protein from creatures that roamed Colorado at the end of the last ice age, including elephants, camels, huge bears and ground sloths.

On March 26, School of Medicine Professor Alberto Costa on the Anschutz Medical Campus received international recognition for his research on Down syndrome. The Down Syndrome Research Foundation honored Costa, an associate professor of medicine and neuroscience, for his contributions in an area that has personal implications for him. Costa found his calling when his daughter was born with Down syndrome 13 years ago. Since then, he has devoted his career to researching the disorder and its impact on the brain in areas related to learning and memory. Costa received the award for "exceptional contribution to research in Down syndrome" during an awards event in Vancouver, British Columbia. Professor Costa says he did what any father would have done following the birth of a child with Down syndrome. He did all he could to learn as much as he could about the condition affecting his child. Costa's research is funded in part by the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, which made its debut on the Anschutz Medical Campus last fall.

Literature Professor is Rising CU Star
Andrea O'Reilly Herrera is uniquely qualified to teach students about themes related to self identity. She was born in Philadelphia to parents whose family lines trace back to two islands with distinct cultural legacies. She is the daughter of a Cuban mother and an Irish-American father. These days, O'Reilly Herrera brings her singular perspective to students studying English literature, women's studies and ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. A published poet and the author of a number of critical essays on writers ranging from Charlotte Brontë to Sandra Cisneros, she has won many accolades for her teaching and writing. Now, she adds two prestigious CU feathers to her scholarly cap. In February, O'Reilly Herrera received the 2008 Elizabeth D. Gee Memorial Lectureship Award, which honors teaching, scholarship and interdisciplinary collaboration that has helped advance women in higher education. Last month, O'Reilly Herrera also became a President's Teaching Scholar, earning one of our university's highest academic designations. Please join me in congratulating O'Reilly Herrera for all her achievements. She is another example of the high quality of faculty serving our students in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus.