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 at Colorado Springs.
The regents also approved a resolution encouraging campuses to develop additional Spanish-language resources for prospective and new 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 outgoing regents.
Student Maintenance Update
The regents received an update on first-year student retention rates and plans to improve those rates, which are among the areas of the CU System’s strategic plan.
At CU Boulder, 87.8% of first-year students who started in fall 2021 returned for their second year in fall 2022, setting a new campus record for student retention.
Among students from underrepresented groups, defined in this case as Hispanic, Black, American Indian, and Pacific Islander, 81.8% of first-year students returned for their second year in fall 2022, down slightly from 82.4 % of retention in the previous year.
The Boulder campus is engaged in several initiatives to improve student retention, including strengthening the first-year academic advising network, strengthening recruitment partnerships with academic programs, continuing predictive analytics to identify students in need of support, developing a common curriculum and expanding access to the First Year Experience program and Living Learning Communities.
The campus is also exploring additional steps to close the gap between the overall student body and underrepresented minority students.
Campus leaders discussed specifics and answered questions from regents in sections during the meeting.
Resources in Spanish
The board unanimously approved a resolution encouraging campuses to continue producing 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 urges them to regularly inform the Finance Committee of the costs associated with producing these resources.
The resolution notes that students from Hispanic families are among the fastest growing demographic of college-eligible students in the state.
“I think we have an obligation as a university to make ourselves available to the students of the state of Colorado,” Kroll said. “And many students at Colorado State come from families where English is not the first language at home.”
Resolution on fetal stem cell research
The board discussed Regent Heidi Ganal’s resolution calling on the university to strengthen its policies and practices to ensure that aborted human fetal tissue is never used for research purposes. The resolution calls on the Scientific Ethics Committee to look for alternative methods of conducting the research.
“We’re a leader in a lot of things at CU, especially at CU Anschutz, but this is one area where I think we can do better, make a statement and do better to stop this practice,” Hanachl said.
Regent Ken Montero requested that the resolution be sent back to the University Affairs Committee for further discussion, saying he wanted more information on current policies and procedures for the use of embryonic stem cells in research. The motion to return the topic to committee passed 7–2, with Regents Glenn Gallegos and Ilana Spiegel voting against.
CU Boulder Campus Update
Chancellor Philip DiStefano provided an update on the Boulder campus, including the results of Colorado Free Application Days, a program that allows Colorado residents to apply for free to all public and some private colleges and universities in the state.
According to preliminary counts, CU Boulder received 10,483 applications this year — mostly first-year applications, along with 212 transfer applications — up 2% from last year’s Free Application Days.
He also described the campus’ decision this summer to move health and wellness services into Strategic Connections and Support to take a more holistic approach to mental health and wellness for faculty, staff and students.
“Supporting health and wellness is the foundation of our success in the classroom, lab and workplace,” said DiStefano.
He noted that the “Right Here and Now” Global Climate Summit, which CU Boulder is co-hosting with the United Nations on December 1-4, is just four weeks away. Registration is now open at summit website, as well as information on the ‘Look Globally, Engage Locally’ series of events focusing on local experts and the effects of climate change.
Resolutions of gratitude
The Board of Regents recognized the service of three regents. Regent Sue Sharkey served 12 years as regent elected from Congressional District 4. Kroll served six years as regent elected from Congressional District 1. Hanakhl served six years as regent, elected by will.
At the end of their terms, Regents will be named Regents Emeritus for their dedication and service to the University of Colorado. It was their last regular board meeting.
The board also:
Approved the establishment of the Larry Gold Professorship at CU Boulder. The professorship honors Gold, who has served as a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology since 1969 and whose research focuses on human disease.
Two tenured appointments and four leaves of absence for CU Boulder faculty and several professor emeritus appointments were approved. Confirmed recipients of Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Service Awards and University Medals for 2023. These alumni and supporters will be publicly recognized in April.
Received a petition from a UCCS student government representative calling on the UC system to divest investments and system funds from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in clean energy by the end of 2027.
The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for February 9-10, 2023 in the office of the MC system.