Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in CU Connections over the summer.
Mention “CU” to people across Colorado, and some will think first, if not only, of the Boulder campus. Others will go on to recall the campuses in three other cities: Colorado Springs, Denver and Aurora.
Yet CU’s presence is felt in communities small and large all across the state.
In an effort to make that a top-of-mind point for more Coloradans, CU President Bruce Benson has introduced CU For Colorado, an initiative that promotes awareness of more than 230 University of Colorado outreach programs.
The effort’s most visible platform is a new website that gathers searchable information on outreach work across the CU system. The Office of Academic Affairs, along with University Relations, worked with the campuses to identify programs; faculty and staff are invited to suggest additions by filling out this form.
Ken McConnellogue, CU vice president of communication, presented details about the effort to the Board of Regents during its Tuesday meeting at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“The goal is to demonstrate CU’s value and the service we provide around the state,” McConnellogue told the board. “This grew out of the president’s outreach visits around the state over a number of years.”
CU President Bruce Benson said that if Colorado voters are to be counted on for backing future measures to fund higher education, then CU must help communities understand what the university is contributing to their areas.
“I think the University of Colorado is still a pretty well-kept secret,” Benson said. “When we’re around the state recruiting students or anything else, this helps as part of the master strategy.”
Regent Chair Michael Carrigan also said the exposure that CU For Colorado aims to provide is needed.
“So frequently, the comment I hear from people when I’m out in the community talking to people about an example of the great work the university does, the reply is, ‘How come I’m hearing this for the first time?’,” Carrigan said. “This (website provides) one-stop shopping for anyone who wants to know what we’re doing for the state.”
The programs compiled within CU For Colorado reflect the four pillars that encompass all of the university’s activities:
- Learning and teaching: CU provides educational opportunities, training and resources for partnerships with P-20 students and teachers, and Colorado’s other higher education institutions. Examples include the Center for STEM Education, the CU Pre-Collegiate Development Programs and CU Succeed.
- Discovery and innovation: CU research addresses compelling needs in Colorado and beyond. It also creates new companies and jobs and helps drive the state’s economy. Examples: the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center, the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization and the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels.
- Community and culture: CU brings arts, cultural and social programs to communities and works in partnership with them to promote the pursuit of knowledge. Examples: Boots to Suits, Center of the American West and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Schools.
- Health and wellness: CU offers health and clinical care, educational resources, opportunities in research studies, and wellness initiatives to communities throughout the state. Examples: the Colorado Area Health Education Centers, CU Mini Med School and CU Mammogram Van.
The website’s searchable, sortable database showcases programs by region, by program type and by home campus. Individual program entries provide links to other CU sites for more information.
Stories about the people and places benefiting from CU outreach also are featured on the website. Other marketing material, including logo signage for use at outreach sites, is being developed.
Benson has begun touting the effort, having written about it in a recent newsletter and speaking about it at a summer appearance in Grand Junction.
Faculty and staff who have questions about or suggestions for the CU For Colorado database are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.