August 13, 2009
In This Issue...
Dear Alumni and Friends,
In July, as our nation celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, we at the University of Colorado had reason to be more than just a little proud. CU has played a key role in America's space program for more than half a century and we continue to be a major force beyond the bounds of Earth.
In 2011, a NASA mission will return to the moon and CU will be along. In January, NASA awarded $6 million to CU-Boulder to build instruments to conduct experiments on the lunar surface and in the moon's atmosphere. Our university receives more research funding from NASA than any other public university, some $50 million annually. We've sent experiments and instruments to every planet in our solar system and beyond.
CU has had 18 alumni astronauts, from Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter (who flew the second orbital flight in 1962) to space shuttle astronaut Steve Swanson (who flew aboard Atlantis in 2007 and Discovery this year). Most are from the Boulder campus, but not all. John Herrington, the first American Indian to fly in space, is an alumnus of our Colorado Springs campus. He flew aboard Endeavour to the International Space Station in 2002. Herrington is now a special adviser to space programs at UCCS. James Voss, who flew five shuttle missions and spent 163 days aboard the International Space Station, joins our aerospace engineering program this month as a scholar-in-residence.
Kjell Lindgren, a graduate of the School of Medicine on our Anschutz Medical Campus, last month was named to the first class of new astronauts in five years. He will spend the next year in training.
Our alumni astronauts have seen triumph and tragedy. Jack Swigert, who was a close friend of mine, was command module pilot for the ill-fated Apollo 13. He helped bring the damaged spacecraft safely back to Earth. Carpenter was in the groundbreaking Mercury program that literally got the U.S. space program off the ground. He was one of the "Mercury 7," as America's first astronauts were known. On the tragic side, Ellison Onizuka died in the Challenger disaster in 1986. Kalpana Chawla died aboard Columbia in 2003. They gave their lives for their country, and they will always hold a special place among our alumni astronauts.
We're excited about CU's future in space and proud of our history with the space program. Innovation and discovery are two hallmarks of a great university, and our work in space is emblematic of what CU can accomplish in a variety of endeavors, both here on Earth and in the stars.
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Research funding, donors up, but CU still relies on other support
We had some good news recently about two major funding sources for CU, both occurring in the 2008-09 fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. First, researchers on all four of our campuses received a record-setting $711 million in sponsored research funding. And, despite one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory, more donors contributed to CU campuses, programs and people than at any other time in the university's 133-year history. The CU Foundation, our fundraising arm, reports that more than 50,000 donors gave gifts totaling $134.5 million in fiscal year 2008-09.
However, while sponsored research and donor contributions are important funding sources for the university, we still rely on state support and other sources to help pay for operating costs such as utilities, technology, and faculty and staff salaries.
Make no mistake. We are proud CU is home to researchers, programs and people who continue to draw considerable support from state and federal agencies and private donors. But anytime we announce record-setting research funding or donor contributions, we have to temper our pride and enthusiasm with a reminder to our alumni and the general public that these funds are earmarked for specific programs.
Otherwise, we give the public the impression that higher education funding is faring well in Colorado. In fact, CU has already cut its costs in preparation for anticipated budget shortfall for the current fiscal year and the next, when one-time federal stimulus funding that is helping us pay operating costs runs out. We know we face even more difficult financial challenges in the years ahead, which is why we are grateful and proud to announce that people still agree that CU is a good investment for Colorado and our state's future.
CU researchers benefit from federal stimulus funding
Speaking of research funding, faculty researchers on our four campuses continue to garner grant awards through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. As of July 31, the university had received a total of 88 awards worth $30 million as part of the federal stimulus package (some $15 million is counted in last year's research total, above).
The spending provision was designed to stimulate the economy and calls for $800 billion in new spending and tax credits. It also covers a competitive grant application process for academic research, and our faculty researchers have been busy over the past several months applying for stimulus funding through federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Defense and others.
Our researchers will use the funding to support a broad spectrum of research: from clinical health care studies at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, to global climate research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and from programs at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs aimed at helping U.S. soldiers cope with post-traumatic stress syndrome, to academic programs at the University of Colorado Denver designed to advance math and science teaching in public schools.
UCCS dedicates leading-edge Science and Engineering Building
In the excitement of last week's dedication of the new Science and Technology Building at our Colorado Springs campus, I was struck by the thought that a new building can mean so much more than just the addition of bricks and mortar. It can symbolize the hope and promise of what the university is trying to achieve as it provides its students, faculty and staff, community and state with vibrant new spaces that allow for learning, leading-edge research and collaboration.
Built at a cost of $56.1 million (of which the state of Colorado provided $20 million), the new Science and Engineering Building is the largest structure on our rapidly expanding UCCS campus. UCCS hopes the building will net the campus another certification from the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) program, the U.S. Green Building Council's prestigious rating system, which sets the standard for high-performance construction. The campus's new recreation center was the first building in all of southern Colorado to obtain a LEED gold certification, one of the highest ratings for new or renovated buildings.
The new building boasts solar power, high-efficiency heating and cooling and other conservation-focused features. It will house the departments of biology, physics, mechanical and aerospace engineering, the National Institute for Science, space and security centers, and the CU Institute for Bioenergetics. Among its notable artwork is a Foucault pendulum, one of only five in Colorado. UCCS Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak says she believes the new facility will help invigorate innovation, and educate the region's next generation of scientists and engineers. We applaud all she has done to bring this project to fruition, and share in the excitement and promise that a new campus building can bring.