CU South Denver aims for collaboration among four campuses

Faculty Council hears update on progress at new location

Leadership at the new CU South Denver is working with faculty at the four CU campuses to determine academic programming that best serves the surrounding community.

Faculty Council learned that and other progress about the new location during the council’s Oct. 30 meeting at 1800 Grant St. Lisa M. Douglas, vice chancellor for CU South Denver, provided an update report.

Douglas said she is forming a collaboration committee that will include faculty and/or staff representatives from all four CU campuses. She said she hopes for the group to meet monthly.

She said that she and administrators at CU South Denver are “not trying to control programming,” but rather want to facilitate brainstorming and develop academic offerings that are a good fit for the location, given both the nature of the facility and its location.

“I think we’ve had a really good, positive reception,” Douglas said. “People are excited that CU is down here. We’ve just had trouble converting that to actual attendance to certain courses. Some of that is that we’re still new. And maybe we haven’t hit the nail on exactly what they need, so we’ll keep working on these issues.”

Douglas said she is working with business and industry in the south metro area to ascertain what academic offerings will best lend themselves to workforce development.

CU is in the process of interviewing and hiring staff from The Wildlife Experience, the Douglas County wildlife museum and multi-use facility where CU South Denver is based. In January, they will officially become CU employees and will continue to maintain ongoing programming, while the building will become known as the Liniger Building at the University of Colorado South Denver. The property valued at $40 million is a gift to CU from Dave and Gail Liniger and their family.

Douglas said a second-phase renovation of the facility is set to begin soon. “We feel we can do quite a bit of expansion and still not compromise the museum. The building is now 150,000 square feet, and we could potentially add 100,000 square feet.”

Faculty Council members expressed interest in touring the facility to get a sense of the space and its potential for future academic offerings; the council is considering holding a spring retreat there.

In other business at last week’s Faculty Council meeting:

-          CU President Bruce Benson updated the council on current priorities and challenges across the university, and answered questions from council members. He said he’s determined to “find a really first-class chancellor” for CU Denver, that he thinks there is room for growth across the university in research and service providers in mental health, and that he and other leaders continue to study the potential for a possible ballot issue “in a year or two” that would address funding for CU and higher education. “In general, I’m pretty happy with the way things are going,” Benson said. “The budget’s going to be a problem, but we’ll figure it out.”

-          Regents Steve Bosley and Glen Gallegos spoke to the council and answered questions. Both said they relish the opportunity to engage people across the state and tell them of the good work going on across the CU system.

-          Faculty Council Chair Laura Borgelt said progress on changes to the tuition benefit policy continues, but that details will be presented to Faculty Assemblies at the campuses soon for further review. “It’s going to be a year of continued discussion, because some of the data that is needed to determine costs is still being determined,” she said.