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Chancellor Bud Peterson outlined his plans to maintain CU’s successful programs, improve others and create a diverse campus to a crowd of faculty this morning in Old Main.
The speech was open to all faculty, students and the public, but few students could be spotted among the mostly professorial crowd. Peterson discussed what action he’s already taken and programs he plans to implement, along with other ideas about how to improve Colorado’s flagship university.
Peterson briefly unveiled a preliminary plan for a committee that would study a variety of academic and cultural issues.
The Campus Steering Group would include students in that cultural and academic study. However, Peterson did not give any specifics on how the group would be assembled nor what authority the group would have to implement ideas.
Peterson outlined four questions that he will seek answers to in the opening months of his new job. He asked, “In what areas do we have a nationally recognized leadership role? In what programs do we have an opportunity to attain flagship status? In what programs do we need to establish a presence? And what are we willing to give up in order to move forward?” He hopes to seek answers from the entire Boulder community.
Peterson was optimistic throughout his speech, calling CU a “flagship university … renowned worldwide for academic achievement across a broad range of disciplines.” Peterson hopes CU can soon host a national supercomputer research center. That center would improve CU’s national reputation and help retain faculty, who he repeatedly called “the lifeblood of the university.”
He also noted that he has approved 25 new faculty positions, saying that the “allocation of funds will the first new centrally supported faculty positions in six years.”
Peterson outlined the need to “expand our resource base from federal and state sources.” He said the university must also “strengthen its ties in the community and engender passion among all those who would support us.”
On diversity, Peterson recognized the importance of having a diverse student body and noted that this year’s incoming freshman class is “one of the largest, most well-qualified, and one of the most diverse in the history of the university.” When asked how he plans to retain minority students, he responded, “the best way to create diversity is to focus on diversity within the faculty.”
Jerry Hauser, a professor of communication and the chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, was the opening speaker at the event and had nothing but praise for the new chancellor. Hauser was on the committee that initially recommended Peterson for the job.
“The chancellor is an accomplished academic and has published more than one hundred technical articles,” Hauser said. “[Peterson] also has a strong record for transformative leadership,” and has “improved in quality” all administrative projects he controls.
Hauser also praised Peterson in an interview after the speech.
“He made excellent remarks, and I am encouraged by the additional faculty positions,” Hauser said. “He covered all the bases he could in the 56 days he has been here.”
Aerospace engineering professor Penny Axelrad agreed with Hauser in an interview after the speech.
“The chancellor said the right things for a new professor, and he’s been successful everywhere he’s been,” Axelrad said. “There’s no reason to believe he won’t have that same success here.”