In This Issue...
Dear Alumni and Friends,
The University of Colorado has been getting a lot of attention lately, but not because of the accomplishments of our students or faculty, or because of revolutionary breakthroughs by our researchers.
We're getting attention because of our football program. Changing head coaches draws the media spotlight, rouses our alumni and fans, and dominates public and private discussion about the university. I frequently get questions about the football program at speeches I give, and alumni and friends of CU write to my office more about that issue than any other.
We're pleased with the selection of Jon Embree as our next coach and are confident he will get the program on track. He will get some great help from Eric Bieniemy and Brian Cabral, among others. I met with this group and their families this week and they are first-class people who I am sure will be successful. Yet doing so does not rest solely on the shoulders of Coach Embree and his staff. It will require a team effort from constituents inside and outside CU. The administration, athletic department, and faculty, staff and students all play a role. So do alumni, donors, fans and our corporate partners.
While these constituents have expressed strong - and often conflicting - opinions about direction and leadership of the program, we all agree on one thing: We want this important area of the university to succeed.
There are certainly those who contend that athletics gets attention far beyond what it deserves in the big picture of an institution whose fundamental purpose is education. It's hard to argue with that. But rather than bemoan the attention athletics gets, we must use it to our advantage.
Fair or not, intercollegiate athletics is the window through which many view the university. It is a rallying point for our alumni and a critical touchstone for keeping them connected to CU once they leave campus for lives in Colorado, across the country and around the world. It is an area of keen interest for donors. It sometimes draws the national media spotlight, as was the case a couple of years ago when the Buffs beat West Virginia in a thrilling Thursday night game from Folsom Field, which was the only nationally televised game that night. We can't buy that kind of publicity.
Likewise, our move to the Pac-12 in athletics has a substantial ripple effect in terms of enhanced connections to our largest feeder state (California), a boost to our efforts to attract international students, connections with a larger number of alumni than in Big 12 states (46,000 vs. 11,000) significant research partnerships with faculty colleagues at places like Cal, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, Washington and others.
Given the attention the athletics program receives, it is important that we foster partnerships inside and outside the university to provide the program the support it needs. At the same time, we must also ensure we are accountable for the academic, citizenship and athletic performance of our student-athletes, as well as the operational and fiscal stewardship of the program.
Excellence in athletics will help us showcase the other areas of excellence at CU. And that's a win-win for CU.
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In late November we announced a guaranteed community college transfer program we believe is unique in the nation. CU Guaranteed allows Colorado community college students who have completed 30 hours of core curriculum (as defined by the state) with a minimum 2.7 grade-point average to be admitted to Colleges of Arts and Sciences at our campuses in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver, effective spring semester 2011.
While there are programs in Colorado and nationally that guarantee transfer for those who have completed an associate's degree (typically 60 hours), the 30-hour model is unique. We are confident the students can succeed for two reasons: Data show students who transfer from community colleges achieve at levels similar to those who begin at a four-year campus; and Colorado's innovative GT Pathways program is a statewide initiative in which faculty at two-year and four-year institutions worked together to define a core curriculum that transfers automatically into Arts and Sciences disciplines (transfers to specialized programs such as engineering or business have separate requirements).
The program was encouraged by Regent Stephen Ludwig, who attended two community colleges before earning his bachelor's degree at our Colorado Springs campus. He wanted to be sure students had a clear and assured path to a four-year degree at CU. We believe CU Guaranteed is a fine example of our partnerships across the educational spectrum.
Last month in Colorado Springs, I had a demonstration of TelePresence, an innovative approach that uses interactive high-definition technology to deliver education to remote sites. UCCS has teamed with Cisco on the project, which was made possible by a $1.5 million grant.
The demonstration showed that it is literally like being in the same room as students who may be in La Junta or London. Faculty report that after about 10 minutes, they forget the technology and focus on the teaching and learning. UCCS is the first institution in the country to deliver courses for credit using TelePresence. The campus is teaching everything from nursing to engineering robotics at sites across Colorado. It will also be a boon for delivering education to rural areas.
UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley and her team recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the program to the nine other institutions (five community colleges and four four-year institutions) in the Southern Colorado Education Consortium. We are also working to set up Telepresence on our other campuses and our administrative offices to improve the efficiency of our intercampus meetings.
Innovation and ingenuity were rewarded when the University of Colorado at Boulder earned a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Dallas-based O'Donnell Foundation to bring science to life for middle school students. The PhET Interactive Simulations Project at CU was awarded the grant to develop a suite of 35 simulations specifically for middle school physical science students. The educational tool already offers 87 free, computer-based interactive science simulations, which are utilized in classrooms worldwide. In fact, the simulations have been translated into 50 languages and run more than 15 million times per year. Founded in 2002 by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, the PhET team of scientists, software engineers and science educators use the latest results from education research to create the simulations and their associated classroom activities. In addition to physics, the program offers simulations in chemistry, math, biology and earth science. Educators have seen firsthand how the PhET simulations are improving education. They say the CU program gives students the opportunity to conduct experiments they wouldn't otherwise be able to do in the classroom. In addition, the simulations allow students the ability to visualize complex and sometimes invisible phenomena in a concrete way. It's easy to see how the PhET program can significantly improve middle school math and science education, while keeping students engaged. To find out more about the PhET project, visit phet.colorado.edu/.
The newly opened Peak Nutrition Clinic at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will empower students, faculty and community members to reach their nutritional and health goals. This exciting program from the UCCS Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences is designed to look at an individual's lifestyle, work habits and food choices and create an effective and manageable nutritional plan for them to live a healthier life. Under the guidance of UCCS Health Sciences assistant professor and registered sports dietician Nanna Meyer, graduate students partner with clients to create a workable plan, whether it be how to thwart diabetes or heart disease, how to lose a few pounds or how to improve athletic endurance. The clinic, housed at University Hall, will work cooperatively with the Student Health Center and the University Counseling Center, as well as open its doors to the community's weekend warriors and competitive athletes.
Lloyd Holman turned a personal tragedy into a positive for the School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus. After his twin brother, Floyd, suffered a spinal cord injury that was later complicated by surgery, Lloyd went looking for the best spinal cord care in the country. His search led him to Dr. Stephen Davies at AMC, whose neurosurgery research laboratory in the School of Medicine has developed promising treatments in the care of patients with spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, Floyd passed away before he could take part in clinical trials. Yet the relationship that developed between Lloyd and Dr. Davies led to Holman making a $500,000 gift in honor of his brother to the research endeavor. Dr. Davies said the contribution will help continue experiments that focus on chronic injuries and will help increase the speed at which research translates from the lab to the clinic. And for Lloyd Holman, he is excited to honor his brother with a legacy that will help others.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver examined an area of the workforce that operates with little regulation or oversight - domestic workers. Associate Professor of Political Science Tony Robinson led a survey of more than 400 domestic workers. The first in-depth study of its kind in Colorado, it was funded by the Women's Foundation of Colorado. Robinson found that the workers, most of whom are women of color, face substantial workplace abuse and exploitation. The report calls on Colorado to pass legislation to protect domestic workers, as have states such as New York. The workers are specifically excluded from many legal protections, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. The study found that about 90 percent of domestic workers are women, and while more than a third of them work more than 40 hours per week, only a third of those ever receive overtime pay. The study could be the basis for an action plan that includes a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights campaign.