After conversations at recent Faculty Council and Board of Regents meetings about student success across the University of Colorado system, Regent Irene Griego attended last week’s Faculty Council meeting to discuss the issue with the governance group.
“I truly believe that if we give students the support they need, our students can be successful,” Griego told the Faculty Council during the April 4 meeting at 1800 Grant St. in Denver. “I wanted to have a conversation with you about how we are meeting the needs of our students. Because we are only as good as our graduates. The people that make that happen are all of you.”
Griego said she asked to be at the meeting because of recent discussions at meetings of the Faculty Council and Board of Regents. At February’s board meeting, Faculty Council Chair Melinda Piket-May told the board that high acceptance rates for student applications is one reason faculty members fear top-tier students might be avoiding CU campuses. Some board members took exception with that generalization and the suggestion that, increasingly, incoming undergraduates have not been properly prepared academically to begin college.
Having made her career in K-12 education, Griego told the Faculty Council, she understands the importance of students being college-ready. “But I see this as a partnership between public education and K-12, with our colleges and universities. All of us need to work together at it. I know we have a lot of programs in place that represent collaboration and working together.”
As an example, Piket-May cited the Pre-Collegiate Program across the campuses as being “tremendous. We see high rates (of students who go on to enroll at CU). That’s one way I feel we’re reaching out and picking up some students who might not come to our campuses otherwise.”
Griego told her personal story as a young minority who might have fallen through cracks in the system had it not been for outstanding mentors and professors during her undergraduate years at CU-Boulder. “But I could have been one of those students who was told (before enrolling), ‘You don’t quite fit here at CU.’”
Council member Pam Laird said she loves hearing such success stories, but told Griego that “every one of these stories, including your own, required enormous investments of time. … I caution us to think about the flip side of these stories. As we are under pressure to move toward greater efficiency in the classroom, have larger class sizes, do more online teaching, hire more non-tenure track faculty, there’s a limit to how many of these stories we are able to generate.”
Griego said she believes CU’s educators are doing their best. “That’s all we can expect. As educators, it’s not like we get paid a lot of money. But I have to say, what I have received in my work has meant more to me than money.
“You’d be amazed how many lives you’re touching. I can’t give up on that. That’s where our future is at.”
Griego finished by thanking the faculty for all they do.
“Sometimes we’ll agree to disagree,” she said. “But I value everything you do. I’m supportive of anything we can do for our students to be successful, and you’re the machine that makes it happen.”