A Message from the President

October 2009

In This Issue...
President Bruce Benson
President Bruce D. Benson

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In 1985, the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 1187, groundbreaking legislation that aimed to bring order to the chaos of the state's higher education system. It clarified roles and missions of colleges and universities and sought to reduce program duplication. It also intended to eliminate the "Lone Ranger" practice of institutions individually lobbying state government for funding.

That same year, former Gov. Dick Lamm appointed me to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE), which was charged with implementing the legislation. Our role was twofold: We advocated for the institutions and their statutory missions, but we also policed program duplication and "mission creep," the natural tendency of colleges and universities to stray from their designated roles and missions. The advocacy part of the equation was well received; the policing of programs often was not. We had to make some tough and unpopular calls about programming around the state to ensure higher education didn't try to be all things to all people. But the result was a stronger, more focused system.

In the ensuing 25 years, many of the state's colleges and universities have strayed from the intent of 1187. Even parts of CU are guilty of mission creep and program duplication. Given higher education's abysmal funding levels, it is an opportune moment for Gov. Bill Ritter to undertake a study of Colorado's system. In the coming weeks, he will charge members of his team to work with higher education leaders to develop and complete the study.

I have shared with the governor that the study should re-examine roles and missions, assess program duplication and look for ways for higher education to be more efficient. We have offered our help with the study. In this era of dwindling resources, it is imperative that we focus the activities of our colleges and universities and ensure that they operate in the most efficient manner possible.

We also have a great opportunity to forge new partnerships among our colleague institutions and build on the strong ones we have in place, some over several decades. As I travel the state and meet with elected officials and business and community leaders across Colorado, I stress the need for effective partnerships among colleges and universities. We need to promote all of higher education. It serves Colorado and its citizens by being a substantial economic driver, providing an educated work force, bringing more than $1 billion in federal research money to the state, and contributing to the social and cultural well-being of Colorado.

Higher education is a valuable investment for Colorado, one that provides significant returns. In good times and bad, we must ensure that our colleges and universities remain focused and deliver quality education. We are working toward that end at CU, and I am optimistic that the state will make progress in that direction, as well.


Bruce D. Benson

To provide feedback, e-mail officeoftherpresident@cu.edu

Enrollment at record levels on all four CU campuses

University of Colorado alumni, donors, students, faculty and staff might not be surprised by this news, but it's still good to share with all of our supporters: Total enrollment has reached record numbers on all four CU campuses.

The idea that more students are pursuing educational opportunities on one of our campuses is certainly not surprising. Our students and faculty teachers and researchers perform quality work at every level. The breakdown by campus is encouraging. The University of Colorado at Boulder is reporting record total enrollment of 30,659 degree-seeking students. At the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, total enrollment is at a record 8,464, the most since the growing southern Colorado campus's 1965 founding. The University of Colorado Denver is reporting record total enrollment of 14,029 students. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has 3,159 students, the vast majority graduate students seeking careers in the health professions.

Our latest enrollment records are proof positive the public continues to see CU as a great value when compared to peer universities. This is good news, especially in light of the current economic downturn. We could not be more gratified to know so many people consider CU a good investment for the future.

CU researchers, students benefit from federal stimulus funding

Our top priority is providing students a great education. Classroom teaching is essential to that, but so is research. CU faculty members are dedicated to sharing their knowledge with undergraduate and graduate students in the classroom and research laboratories. Together, they are striving to answer some of the same riddles faced by scientists around the globe: Will global climate change affect humanity? What are the best approaches for detecting and treating cancer? Which renewable energies will be cost-effective solutions for our energy needs? Can stem cell research lead to cures for some of the most debilitating illnesses?

Collaborating on finding answers can lead to some of the richest experiences for our students and faculty. Because discovery and innovation are important aspects of higher education, finding funding sources for faculty research is crucial, too. In fact, sponsored research funding is an economic lifeline for academic researchers, even if it comes in the form of one-time federal stimulus funding. Since Sept. 14, CU researchers across our four campuses have received a total of 220 research grants worth $119.5 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Over the coming weeks and months our faculty, assisted by professional and student research assistants, will apply these funds to projects that could result in new medicines, therapeutic treatments and technological breakthroughs. These advancements will not only highlight their brilliant work, but will help us tell the stories of the great people who teach, conduct research and serve the Colorado community.

Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities annual conference

The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities will host its ninth annual conference Nov. 5. As a former board member of the Coleman Institute, I can attest to the great work happening there. Its mission is to catalyze and integrate advances in science, engineering and technology to promote the quality of life and independent living of people with cognitive disabilities. It truly makes a difference in countless lives. This year's conference promises to be quite interesting. The keynote speaker will be James K. Galbraith, the noted economist and former director of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. It will also feature sessions on disability law, aging and cognitive disabilities, and new models of care using technology. Additionally, faculty from across the CU system will make presentations. I hope you will join me at the conference. For more information or to register, go to the institute's Web site.

CU a national leader in technology transfer

Here's a fact I frequently share with CU's alumni and friends anytime I am asked to highlight the impact higher education has on the state economy: The University of Colorado is one of the top U.S. universities when it comes to the creation of start-up companies. In fact, over the past five years, technology based on CU research has led to the creation of 51 companies. Of those, 42 have operations in Colorado, which means the university is creating jobs and technological innovation that strengthens the state economy while advancing human knowledge. In the recent past, we have seen multi-billion-dollar companies emerge from CU research.

Bioscience-related inventions continue to dominate the university's tech portfolio, but CU researchers are leaving their mark in other realms as well. At the Sept. 16 CU Board of Regents meeting, David N. Allen, associate vice president of the CU Technology Transfer Office, reported that in fiscal year 2008-09 the CU Technology Transfer Office recorded its best year yet for new invention disclosures (237), especially in the field of renewable energy. In addition, CU's patent portfolio continues to grow. In fiscal year 2008-09, CU filed 188 patent applications, and 28 were accepted.

CU LEEDS the way with 'green' construction

Over the years, CU has led the way with programs, practices and policies designed to lessen its impact on the environment. The University of Colorado at Boulder has one of the nation's oldest student-led recycling centers, and last year became the first bowl championship series campus in the nation to launch a zero-waste program for football games. Last month, Sierra magazine named CU-Boulder the No. 1 "green" university in the nation.

Now, CU-Boulder is leading the charge to build campus structures that merit the country's highest rating for green construction. So far, the campus has received five gold certifications and one silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification is our nation's benchmark for buildings designed with energy efficiency, water conservation, non-toxic materials, and recycling during the construction process.

CU-Boulder has at least nine more projects in the works—both new buildings and renovations—it expects to receive LEED gold or platinum certification. But Boulder isn't the only CU campus dedicated to green construction. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs boasts two new LEED gold-certified buildings: the spectacular new Science and Engineering Building and the Recreation Center, the first public LEED gold-certified structure in southern Colorado. UCCS also has two projects in the works that are likely to receive certification. At the University of Colorado Denver, the nearly completed science and business buildings could receive LEED gold certification. At the Anschutz Medical Campus, the new Skaggs School of Pharmacy and the Wellness Center are prime candidates. Together, these efforts are a great achievement for a public university that has always placed a premium on good stewardship.