A Message from the President
October 2010
In This Issue...

Dear Alumni and Friends,

President Bruce Benson
President Bruce D. Benson

Last week a group of university officials joined Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to open a century-old time capsule in a sealed copper box at Macky Auditorium on our Boulder campus. It contained typical time-capsule fare: newspapers, photographs, letters from various dignitaries and members of the university community.

But the event was a nice reminder that our university has been an integral part of the fabric of our state for 134 years now, educating our citizens, improving our quality of life, and contributing to the economic, social and cultural vitality of Colorado and the nation.

We intend to continue those contributions. Yet to do so, we must reinvent the university. That does not mean we will stray from our fundamental activities: learning and teaching, discovery and innovation, health and wellness, community and culture. It does mean we must look at new ways of doing business, new partnerships and new ways to deliver education.

Much of this work is under way. We have streamlined our business practices to make us less bureaucratic, more streamlined and nimble in how we respond to market forces. We must be collaborative - among the campuses in the CU system and with other higher education institutions. We have a new partnership with Colorado State University to share services in procurement, technology, travel and library services. We are looking to extend the collaboration to our colleagues at other institutions.

We must examine our academic programs in terms of degree offerings, appropriate faculty mix, productivity and relevance. The review of our School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a good example.

We must extend our successful partnerships with K-12 and community colleges. We have several pre-collegiate programs around the state that prepare students for college. Additionally, programs such as CU Succeed engage some 6,000 students from middle school on up. It shows them college is within reach and in some cases, allows them to earn college credit while in high school. Studies have shown that taking courses for college credit before enrolling substantially improves students' success at the college level. Additionally, we will soon announce an innovative community college transfer program that will guarantee admission to CU for qualified community college transfers.

We must also step up our ventures into alternative delivery methods. While there is still great value in a campus experience, online resources and improving telecommunications will be an increasing area of focus for us. CU is already a leader in Colorado in online education, with 30,600 total enrollments. We have 30 degrees available completely online (26 graduate and four undergraduate), as well as 39 certificate programs.

A century from now, when our children's grandchildren look back at CU, we hope they will see a place that reinvented itself to respond to the challenges of its time. To ensure that they do so, we will keep one eye on the rich history that has made us who we are and another on the future that demands we build on our traditions in new and innovative ways.

Bruce D. Benson

For feedback, contact officeofthepresident@cu.edu.

Billions in economic impact

We have recently released our 2010-11 economic impact report, which shows a vibrant university that contributes substantially to the economic, social and cultural vitality of our state and nation. Among the highlights:

  • CU contributes $6.3 billion to Colorado's economy annually (and considerably more when you add the University of Colorado Hospital).
  • For every $1 of unrestricted general fund support, CU returns $40 to Colorado's economy.
  • Spending by CU, its students and our visitors generates $300 million annually in local and state taxes.
  • We confer 46 percent of all college degrees awarded by the state's four-year public institutions (41 percent of bachelor's; 60 percent of master's; 54 percent of doctorates; 82 percent of professional degrees).
  • Our researchers secured $847 million in research funding, which has a substantial ripple effect in Colorado's economy.
  • Over the past five years, 51 startup companies based on CU technology and research have emerged.
  • Since 2002, efforts to market and promote technology created at CU have generated more than $121 million in revenue.
  • For every $1 the state provides, the CU School of Medicine generates $65 in grants, contracts and revenue. The school received $15.1 million in state funding last year, but provided $36 million in uncompensated care to Colorado residents.

Teach for America

Last week on our Boulder campus, we celebrated a program that is making a real difference in K-12 schools around Colorado and across the nation. Teach for America (TFA) is a national effort with a simple goal: to improve the quality of teachers in our nation's schools. TFA alumni, called corps members, commit to teaching for at least two years in one of 39 urban or rural regions around America. As we all know, having effective teachers is one of the single most important factors in student achievement.

I would urge you to see the recently released documentary, "Waiting for Superman," which offers a compelling look at the challenges facing public education.

A recent report by McKinsey and Co., cited in The Wall Street Journal, noted that in Finland, Singapore and South Korea (which have the world's top-performing schools), a remarkable 100 percent of incoming teachers come from the top third of their college cohort. In the U.S., only 23 percent do.

TFA aims to address that discrepancy. It already has some 8,200 teachers working in schools across the country. The most recent incoming corps of prospective teachers, which includes many students from CU, has an average grade-point average of 3.6. About 90 percent also have significant leadership experiences.

CU is proud to be part of this effort. We need our best and brightest students teaching in classrooms around our state and throughout our nation. Our university has an obligation to be a part of the solution for K-12 education, and TFA is a great way to help us fulfill the promise of great schools.


As I travel across Colorado and around the nation, I am always impressed by CU's reach and relevance. We have a presence in every one of Colorado's 64 counties, whether through outreach programs, research studies or faculty serving as resources. We are engaged in substantial partnership around our state and across the nation. We have developed a website that shows our outreach activities around Colorado. It provides an impressive listing of CU's contributions. It can also serve as a pathway for communities that want to tap into our faculty expertise. We are firm believers in our mission as a public university, and the outreach site is one demonstration of how we fulfill that important obligation.

Pac-12 in 2011

We recently concluded negotiations with the Big 12 athletic conference that will allow us to make our move to the Pac-10 (soon to be the Pac-12) beginning in June 2011, rather than in 2012 as we originally planned. In doing so, we will forgo revenues the Big 12 would have provided us, but we will make it up with additional revenue and a loan from the Pac-10. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, we are excited to join our new colleagues, not only from an athletic standpoint but also from an academic one. We have many collaborations already in place with Pac-10 schools and will look to foster more. Examples include our MAVEN mission to Mars (scheduled to launch in 2013), which Cal-Berkeley partners on with us; a physics teacher education coalition we are part of with the University of Arizona; a National Institutes of Health grant with the University of Washington that aims to improve the quality of life for students with hearing loss; a partnership with Stanford in the Alliance for Sustainable Energy; a leukemia study with the University of Oregon; and stem cell research with the University of Washington.

Record enrollments

CU's campuses remain a popular choice for students in Colorado and across the country. This fall, we saw record enrollment at our campuses in Denver (14,641), Colorado Springs (8,893), and at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora (3,331). The Boulder campus (29,952) was down slightly. While the economy certainly plays a role in enrollment, with traditional and non-traditional students looking to learn new skills or retool, we believe a bigger driver in the records is the quality education offered at each of our four campuses.

News from our campuses

The hard work of researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC), based at the Anschutz Medical Campus, is coming to fruition in the upcoming human clinical trials of a low-cost cervical cancer vaccine they developed that could help save the lives of women in developing countries. The trials, expected to begin in 2011, will test if capsomers (protein clusters) can be used as effectively as more expensive vaccines in the fight against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer. According to Bob Garcea, MD, UCCC researcher and professor in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, cervical cancer is primarily localized to resource-poor countries. He says current vaccines on the market are cost-prohibitive for those at risk in these areas. Garcea has worked 25 years in the development of effective cervical cancer vaccines, and received a 2002 National Cancer Institute grant, as well as a $3.4 million grant in 2005 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to fund his work. The National Cancer Institute, as part of an $11.5 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, will fund the upcoming clinical trials on the vaccine. Garcea is co-leader of th­e SPORE project that will develop the clinical trial.

From biology to anthropology, our CU campuses are rich in the tradition of research. Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at University of Colorado at Denver, is proving that point with his most recent research into the evolution of the Neanderthal to be published in December's Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Based on seven years of study at Neanderthal sites throughout Italy, Riel-Salvatore found that these ancients could adapt, innovate, and evolve technology, thereby challenging the half-century of conventional wisdom that Neanderthals were primitive "cavemen" without resourcefulness or innovation. With his identification of projectile points, bone tools, ornaments and possible evidence of fishing and small game hunting, Riel-Salvatore believes the Neanderthal evolved independently. He says his research suggests that Neanderthals were a different kind of human, but humans nonetheless.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs unveiled its new refuge of creativity and inspiration when the Heller Center for Arts and Humanities opened its doors on Oct. 6. The Heller Center, which sits on a 35-acre property adjacent to the UCCS campus, is the renovated home of the late Larry and Dorothy Heller. Artists and art advocates, the Hellers always wanted their property to be a bastion for creativity. Following Dorothy's death in 1999, the property was donated to the university for that purpose. Through generous private donations and a grant from the State Historical Fund, the Heller Center Main House was renovated true to its original era form and is now a destination jewel for this campus. As a focal point for collaborative efforts between the university and the community, and a vehicle for interdisciplinary connections, the Heller Center will be a showcase and educational incubator for UCCS's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Several doctoral programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, including geography, aerospace engineering sciences, integrative physiology, and astrophysical and planetary sciences, were rated highly in a recent report from the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC review, which typically happens every decade, is considered the most comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs available. The NRC functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The data-based assessment of research-doctorate programs in the United States compared more than 5,000 Ph.D. programs in 59 fields or disciplines. The 33 CU-Boulder programs in the study were assessed in 32 fields or disciplines, such as history, mechanical engineering, and physics. NRC reported what it calls "illustrative" ranges of rankings on overall program quality and on three dimensions of doctoral education-research activity, student support and outcomes, and gender and ethnic diversity of the academic environment. The number of programs in fields assessed at CU-Boulder ranged from 27 (in theater) to 236 (in psychology). Two CU-Boulder programs received overall rankings as high as second in their fields. These were geography (ranked in the top 4 percent of 49 programs) and aerospace engineering sciences (in the top 6 percent of 31 programs).