It’s not typical to see hundreds of people eating breakfast, socializing and listening to a live jazz band at 7:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.
Yet that was the scene on Oct. 18 that preceded Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s State of the Campus address, which gave considerable weight to the campus social climate survey results of spring 2016 and touched upon CU’s Flagship 2030 plan for university improvement. DiStefano released an updated vision of the plan for the CU Boulder campus: “To be a leader in addressing the humanitarian, social and technological changes of the 21st century.” DiStefano, aims to accomplish that goal by focusing on the “central themes” of “retention and student success,” “revenue diversification” and “reputation.”
Last year’s results from 2014’s campus social climate survey showed that students of minority groups, specifically those of color, overwhelmingly felt uncomfortable and unsafe on the campus. In the revised Flagship 2030 plan, improving the campus’ social climate improvement is an increasingly larger goal for the vision.
“We want take a period of time [for improvements] where we then come back and do a climate survey similar to what we did over a year ago to see where the students are,” DiStefano said. “That would be what I would call a more formal way of assessing. I think there are informal ways of assessing. I meet on a regular basis with students of color, and that will help me get a sense of how we’re moving through informal conversations with students, but then [we’ll do] something more formal in two or three years as we repeat that climate survey.”
“What we’ve done is we’ve taken a look at some of the goals that we have for Flagship 2030 and have we met those goals, and do we need to refine them,” DiStefano said. “One goal that I mentioned was internationalizing the campus. We had a goal, by 2030, to have 10 percent of the student body [made up of] international [students]. Here we are, 10 years later, having 10 percent, so that goal was certainly met. Also, one of the goals was increasing the interdisciplinary research and education, and that goal has definitely been made. We talked about increasing the student body to 30,000 students, but we’ve already hit that.”
But the chancellor did acknowledge some of the administration’s struggles in regards to achieving their goals and getting closer to the ideal. Regarding the social climate, he said that it will take a lot of effort to collectively achieve an accepting, welcoming mentality, although significant work has been done by individual officials in the school. While shifts to decrease student economic burden such as fixing tuition rates were mentioned, DiStefano admitted the difficulty of accomplishing that effectively.
Additionally, the university’s recent successes were highlighted through initiatives and projects. The Grand Challenge, a plan for utilizing CU Boulder’s scientific prestige “to address our world’s most pressing problems,” according to its website, has successfully launched with programs including the CU’s new Space minor program. This interaction between departments was another recurring theme of the speech.
“When you look at the Grand Challenge, it’s very interdisciplinary. You have faculty from various departments — humanities, the sciences and engineering. Now what we’re trying to do [with Flagship 2030] is refine areas. One of the key components is this whole impact on humanity and how the research and scholarship and creative work of the faculty really does impact humanity.”
The chancellor promised to maintain transparency throughout the process and future operations. A more specific plan to improve the social climate may be released later this semester.
Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Lucy Haggard at email@example.com.