Changing focus for the CU Advocates program

Moves aim to boost legislative efforts, deepen connections
By Staff

The CU Advocates program in the Office of the President will have a change in focus and reporting structure that will place a greater emphasis on legislative advocacy, while a new office of engagement will expand CU’s statewide reach.

The Advocates program, initiated by former CU President Bruce Benson eight years ago, is a nearly 5,000-member network of people across Colorado and around the world. They attend events, get educational information about CU’s successes and challenges, and are sometimes called upon to contact legislators. The program has been housed in University Relations in the Office of the President since its inception. It will move to the Office of Government Relations, where it will become a resource for CU’s efforts to engage local, state and federal elected officials.

The move is part of a larger effort aimed at boosting legislative efforts and deepening connections around Colorado and beyond. University Relations is in the process of hiring a person to lead a newly created Office of Engagement, which will be charged with significantly expanding CU’s outreach to communities across Colorado, with an added emphasis on fostering connections with diverse communities. CU President Mark Kennedy directed that the restructuring take place within existing budgets. The Offices of Government Relations and University Relations have eliminated positions as a result.

In a letter to CU Advocates, Vice President for Communication Ken McConnellogue wrote, “We expect outcomes of the new structure to be consistent, sustainable relationships around Colorado and beyond (particularly with diverse communities), stronger legislative relations, enhanced perceptions about public higher education, student recruitment, increased possibilities for public-private partnerships, and a better understanding of state needs.”

CU Advocates will remain important to the university’s external relations efforts, he wrote.

“We hope you will continue your work supporting CU. We will still provide you with pertinent information about the university, its success, challenges and needs. We will look for effective ways you can help advance CU, particularly with local, state and federal elected officials.”

Government Relations and University Relations staff are working on a transition plan to map out how the increased emphasis on grassroots legislative advocacy will function, as well as what aspects of the current CU Advocates program will remain.