At social functions and events I am sometimes asked how things are “up there,” by which people mean our Boulder campus. I remind them that Boulder has about half of the 58,000 students on CU’s four campuses, and that the university is much more than just its flagship.
You need look no further than our Colorado Springs campus to get a sense of the depth and breadth of CU. As UCCS approaches its 50th anniversary (in 2015), its enrollment growth, opportunities for students, connections to the community and physical transformation exemplify the best of what CU has to offer. The campus is an anchor in southern Colorado as the only research university south of Denver.
Growth has been the signature characteristic of UCCS under the leadership of Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak. UCCS is the fastest growing of our four campuses, both in student body and physical campus. It routinely set enrollment records in recent years, including this year’s record 10,600, a jump of some 8 percent over the previous year. In the past decade, enrollment has soared by 36 percent.
The type of student UCCS attracts is changing as well. In 1965, Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard made a deal with the state: He would bring a manufacturing facility to Colorado Springs if CU would locate a campus there to meet the demand for a highly skilled workforce. That connection with the community remains a signature part of UCCS’s DNA, yet it is far from the exclusively commuter campus it once was. The student body is becoming more traditionally college-aged. An on-campus housing boom that began in 1997 continues today, with just over 1,100 students living on campus, including in the most recently built residence hall, opened in 2013.
Students also benefit from a host of new learning and student activity buildings. The Osborne Center for Science and Engineering, opened in 2009, offers leading-edge facilities in the sciences. It complements the renovated Centennial Hall Science Building, which augments the campus’s strong focus on technology and science. Students can exercise in the Campus Recreation Center, opened in 2007, a beautifully apportioned facility with a stunning view of Pikes Peak. They also enjoy a variety of sporting and cultural events in the renovated Gallogly Events Center, named for a family with deep roots at UCCS.
In less than two weeks, UCCS opens
the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences, which will host the branch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine along with several UCCS clinics and centers. The center is the lynchpin in the development of North Nevada Street, which has been transformed from a strip of seedy motels to a vibrant retail and restaurant district that employs many of our students and also meets their shopping and dining needs.
The next steps on North Nevada come as part of Colorado Springs’ City for Champions initiative, which received state tourism funding approval in December. The UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center, one of four facets of the project, will receive some $17 million to construct a facility adjacent to the Lane Center that will build on UCCS faculty strengths in research and training, serving Olympic athletes, wounded warriors and researchers.
Next up on the building horizon is a Visual and Performing Arts center, which has received the initial round of state funding, one of the few campus building projects approved by the state in recent years.
UCCS has been a leader in southern Colorado in developing partnerships with the community and with other educational institutions. Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak initiated the Southern Colorado Educational Consortium in 2009, a group of 10 institutions in the region that cooperate to promote access and success for students in the southern part of the state. The UCCS College of Business leads the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, a university and community supported research effort that is the premier resource for local economic information and brings together experts from the public, private and academic sectors to report annually on the southern Colorado economy. Many more ties carry on the tradition of community connections started almost a half century ago.
The impact of the growth and activity is a more robust experience for our students and deeper connections for CU in this important part of the state. So when people ask me how things are “up there,” I often say “Fine, but you should have a look at things down there, too.”
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