COLORADO SPRINGS – The University of Colorado Board of Regents last week showed its enthusiasm and appreciation for progress in one of its key priorities – community outreach and engagement.
At the regents’ retreat Jan. 12-13 in Colorado Springs, the board heard about progress since the program began, just before the COVID pandemic. Even though there were no physical visits during the pandemic, the program didn’t pause activities and has significantly made up for ground lost early on.
“Our goal has been to listen, learn and connect with the communities and people of Colorado,” Vice President for Outreach and Engagement Tony Salazar told the board. “Outreach lays the groundwork in many ways for issues critical to CU – funding, recruitment, telling the university’s success stories and bringing CU to communities beyond our campuses.”
Salazar and Outreach Program Director Christina Beck told the regents that the program has visited some 20 communities across Colorado in the past two years, with plans for increasing the university’s presence up and down the Front Range in the coming year. The overview numbers were not news to several regents, who have joined the outreach trips.
“We’re making great progress in this important work, much of it due to President Saliman’s focus and great work by Tony, Christina and others,” said Board Chair Lesley Smith. “It’s been a pleasure to take part in the trips.”
Salazar related that on trips the CU team visits with a variety of people and groups in each community, including elected officials, K-12 representatives, business and community leaders, tribal members and diverse communities, among others. The CU team usually includes President Saliman, several regents, selected campus representatives and Salazar and team. Outreach and engagement are a priority for both Saliman and the regents.
“We have really focused on re-engaging with people and communities across Colorado, which hasn’t always happened in recent years through the system office leadership,” Salazar said. “We’re not just the University of Colorado, we’re Colorado’s university and It’s important for us to meet our mission to serve the state and its people.”
In addition to visiting communities, Salazar’s operation engages with organizations such as chambers of commerce, scholarship organizations and diverse organizations. Salazar told the regents that Outreach and Engagement is looking to add regional program managers to build on and expand relationships in communities.
“We’re stepping up our activities and we expect that will pay significant dividends going forward,” he said. “Our outreach and engagement will now also be driven by regional staff who live and work in communities, and who know the people, organizations, history and needs of the areas they serve.”
Also last week, the board announced new regent committee assignments, effective immediately:
Governance: Chair Ilana Spiegel; Vice Chair Callie Rennison; Glen Gallegos; Frank McNulty
Finance: Chair Nolbert Chavez; Vice Chair Ken Montera; Wanda James; Frank McNulty
University Affairs: Chair Callie Rennison; Vice Chair Ken Montera; Wanda James; Mark VanDriel
Audit: Chair Ilana Spiegel; Vice Chair Nolbert Chavez; Lesley Smith; Mark VanDriel