The University of Colorado Board of Regents received an update on student retention efforts during its regular meeting Nov. 3-4 at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
The Regents also approved a resolution encouraging the campus to develop additional Spanish language resources for prospective and incoming students, discussed a resolution related to the use of fetal stem cells in research, approved several faculty and alumni awards, and bid farewell to three Regents whose terms of office are ending.
Student Bond Update
Regents received a campus-by-campus update on first-year student retention rates and plans to improve those rates, which are a focus area of the CU Systems Strategic Plan.
At CU Boulder, 87.8% of freshmen who started in Fall 2021 returned for the sophomore year in Fall 2022, setting a new campus retention record.
Among students from underrepresented groups, defined in this case as Hispanic, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander, 81.8% of freshmen returned for the sophomore year in fall 2022, down slightly from a retention rate of 82.4% the previous year .
The Boulder campus is engaged in several efforts aimed at increasing student retention, including strengthening the first-year academic advisory network, improving recruitment partnerships with academic programs, continuing predictive analysis to identify students, providing support require, Developing a common curriculum and increasing access to the First Year Experience program and Living Learning Communities.
The campus is also exploring additional steps aimed at bridging the gap between the overall student body and underrepresented minority students.
Campus leaders discussed specifics and answered questions from regents in breakout sessions throughout the meeting.
Spanish language resources
The board unanimously passed a resolution encouraging campuses to continue creating resources related to applications, admissions, financial aid, orientation, housing, and other topics in Spanish.
According to Regent Jack Kroll, campuses are already involved in such efforts, and the resolution encourages them to report regularly to the Finance Committee on the costs involved in producing these resources.
The resolution notes that students from Hispanic-speaking families are among the fastest growing populations of college-eligible students in the state.
“I believe we have a duty as a university to make ourselves more accessible to students in the state of Colorado,” Kroll said. “And many students in the state of Colorado come from families where English isn’t the first language spoken at home.”
Resolution on fetal stem cell research
The board discussed a resolution by Regent Heidi Ganahl calling for the university to strengthen its policies and practices to ensure aborted human fetal tissue is never used for research. The resolution calls on the scientific ethics committee to look for alternative methods of conducting the research.
“We’re leaders in so many things at CU, especially CU Anschutz, but this is an area where I think we can do better and make a statement and better stop this practice,” Ganahl said.
Regent Ken Montera requested that the resolution be returned to the University Affairs Committee for further discussion and said he would like more information on current policies and procedures on the use of embryonic stem cells in research. The motion to return the issue to committee passed 7-2, with Regents Glen Gallegos and Ilana Spiegel voting against.
CU Boulder Campus update
Chancellor Philip DiStefano provided an update on Boulder campus activities, including the results of Colorado Free Application Days, a program that allows Colorado residents to apply for free to all public and some private state colleges and universities.
CU Boulder received 10,483 applications this year, according to preliminary figures — mostly first-year applications along with 212 applications for a transfer — a 2% increase over last year’s free application days.
He also detailed the campus’ decision this summer to move health and wellness services under Strategic Relationships and Support in order to take a more holistic approach to mental health and well-being for faculty, staff and students.
“Supporting health and well-being is fundamental to our success in the classroom, lab and workplace,” said DiStefano.
He noted that there are only four weeks left until the “Right Here, Right Now” global climate summit, which CU Boulder is co-hosting with the United Nations Human Rights Council, December 1-4. Registration is now possible on the Summit website, along with information about the Watch Globally, Engage Locally event series, which focuses on local experts and the impacts of climate change.
Resolutions of Appreciation
The Board of Regents recognized the service of three regents. Regent Sue Sharkey served 12 years as District 4 elected Regent. Kroll served as Regent-elect for District 1 for six years. Ganahl served six years as at-large elected regent.
At the end of their term, Regents are made Regents Emeritus for their dedication and service to the University of Colorado. This was her last regular board meeting.
The board also:
Approved the establishment of the Larry Gold Endowment Professorship at CU Boulder. The professorship honors Gold, who has been a professor at the Chair of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology since 1969 and whose research focuses on human diseases.
Approved two temporary appointments and four sabbaticals for CU Boulder faculty members, as well as several Distinguished Professor appointments. Recognized recipients of honorary degrees, distinguished service awards, and university medals for 2023. These alumni and supporters will receive public recognition in April.
Received a petition from a representative of the UCCS student government calling on the CU system to divest the system’s investments and endowments from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in clean energy by the end of 2027.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 9th-10th. February 2023 planned in the system office of the CU.