Colorado is one state, but it is far from singular when it comes to the diversity of its cultures and communities. Starting in May and continuing through September, CU President Todd Saliman and members of the CU Board of Regents joined the CU Outreach & Engagement staff, led by Assistant Vice President for Outreach and Engagement Tony Salazar, on outreach tours across Colorado.
The tours included listening and learning about the interests and needs of communities across the state, Coloradans’ views on CU as a destination for students, and the impact of the many touchpoints that CU has in every part of Colorado, including the work being done by the six regional Area Health Education Centers (AHECs).
“We also had some truly inspiring visits with current and incoming CU students,” Saliman said.
Salazar added, “Every visit included conversations about how to better connect CU to people in Colorado, regardless of where they live.”
Common areas of interest in these communities include:
- Advancing higher education awareness and opportunities for all students, with an emphasis on rural, Latino and Native American students.
- Identifying ways CU can partner with local communities to uncover and support workforce needs.
- Expanding opportunities for students to remain in their home communities while receiving a CU education that is valued across the state.
- Working in partnership with local higher education institutions to provide needed education programs.
- Clarifying misperceptions about the cost to attend CU, which is sometimes mistaken with private school or out-of-state tuition rates.
- Having an ongoing CU presence in communities across the state, including in school districts where prospective students can learn more about CU’s educational offerings. “Quite a bit of follow-up is needed after these trips and we have started dividing up assignments to the team,” Saliman said.
During the Western Slope tour, CU leaders visited Grand Junction, Delta, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. There, they met with Club 20, elected officials, school district representatives, health care professionals, community advocates, the editorial board of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and CU’s partners at Colorado Mesa University.
Attending regents included Glen Gallegos, Lesley Smith, Heidi Ganahl, Callie Rennison and Ilana Spiegel. CU leaders also were joined at different points in the tour by Tammy Spencer, assistant dean of the nursing undergraduate program at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus; and by Georgia Hoaglund, executive director of the Western Colorado AHEC.
The Southeast and Southern Colorado outreach tour saw CU visitors speaking with leaders from Lamar Community College, Otero Junior College and Trinidad State College, who are eager to partner with CU. CU received feedback on meaningful issues from leaders in La Junta, Trinidad and Pueblo that align with research.
In Pueblo, CU celebrated more than 20 incoming students and connected with alumni and community partners. Janelle Quick from the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation presented each student at the event with a scholarship of at least $2,500.
Regents on hand included Ilana Spiegel, Sue Sharkey, Glen Gallegos and Ken Montera. UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy also took part in the tour. Barbara Seidl, CU Denver’s associate dean for teacher education and undergraduate experiences at the School of Education & Human Development, attended some of the meetings to discuss CU’s rural teacher preparation programs with community college partners.
CU leaders traveled to Southwestern Colorado, where they spent two days with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Ignacio to further strengthen CU’s partnership with the tribe. They also met the Ute Mountain Ute tribe in Towaoc for the first time, visited with tribal leaders and toured the tribe’s education facilities.
“It was a fantastic way to begin a relationship with the tribe,” Saliman said. “The trip was another reminder about how important it is to regularly connect with all four corners of our beautiful state.”
Attending regents included Lesley Smith, Sue Sharkey, Ilana Spiegel, Jack Kroll and Glen Gallegos. Campuses were represented by Theresa Hernandez, director of CU-Southern Colorado Partnerships at CU Boulder; and Josina Romero O’Connell, director of Colorado AHEC based on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
The fourth and final outreach tour for 2022 took CU leadership to the San Luis Valley, where they visited cultural, education and health centers in Alamosa, Monte Vista and Center. Leadership met at and toured the Alamosa farm of State Sen. Cleave Simpson, who is deeply involved in water issues in the San Luis Valley and offered insights about various water proposals for the region. They toured Adams State College and learned of the new engineering partnership with CSU.
At the San Luis Valley American Indian Center, CU leaders were treated to a traditional meal that included moose and venison stews and fry bread. They learned about the history of the area’s American Indian community and how their ill treatment still resonates today.
Regents attending this trip included Ken Montera, Sue Sharkey and Ilana Spiegel. CU Boulder’s Director of Precollege Partnership Outreach Programs, Valeria Morales, joined CU leaders to discuss reinvigorating the San Luis Valley Pre-College Program with local school districts.
More tours are being planned for 2023. Specific locations have not been determined; however, CU leadership is excited to continue meaningful discussions with communities in all parts of Colorado.