UCCS’ Christensen wins Excellence in Leadership Award

Co-director of UCCS Teach honored at annual lunch

UCCS' Christensen wins Excellence in Leadership Award
Thomas Christensen with UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

Thomas Christensen, co-director of UCCS Teach, on Friday received the annual Excellence in Leadership Award, given by the systemwide Excellence in Leadership Program (ELP).

The award was presented during the annual Excellence in Leadership Luncheon and Lecture, attended by more than 140 program alumni and others at the Brown Palace in Denver.

ELP provides opportunities for CU faculty and staff to become more effective leaders who can successfully address the challenges of a dynamic university.

More than 486 CU faculty and staff have completed the program since 2000. The luncheon is an opportunity to bring together program alumni for continuing collaboration and networking.

“ELP is a unique program bringing together faculty and staff, from all campuses, to facilitate leadership and networking opportunities,” said Janet Lowe, director of Employee Services’ Employee Learning and Development division, which administers ELP.

Kathy Nesbitt, vice president of CU’s Employee and Information Services, introduced the Leadership Lecture speaker Roxane White, who is president and CEO of the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office. The two were colleagues when they worked for Gov. John Hickenlooper.

White’s lecture, “Tough Calls: Making Evidence-Based Decisions,” emphasized that many organizations spend too much time focusing on collecting data when real, meaningful insights can come by focusing on outcomes.

“We need to learn how to collect more data that is focused on the evidence of outcomes, because those will help our organizations know whether our efforts are successful,” she said.

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak presented the ELP award to professor Christensen, noting that his decade-plus tenure as UCCS’ dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences was marked by adding three new undergraduate degrees programs and a Ph.D. program. He played an integral role in the construction of the Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities, as well as three other major construction projects. He accomplished all of this at a time when tight budgets would have hindered others, she noted.

“Tom looks at how we can come together and solve problems. He never takes credit, even when it is due,” Shockley-Zalabak said. “He represents the essence of leadership.”

In accepting the award, Christensen noted his love of the UCCS campus and the many roles he played since arriving in 1989.

“I can’t even tell you how often I told my wife I’d be home by 6 o’clock, only to come home nowhere close to that time,” he said, looking at his wife in the audience. “But tonight, I’ll be home by 6 o’clock.”

The event was partially sponsored by TIAA-CREF Financial Services.