Chancellor assures high-quality education in Q-and-A session

With questions that ranged from sewer gasses to next year’s tuition rates, UCCS students met with Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak Wednesday to find out more about the university’s future.

Shockley-Zalabak provided the dozen students who met with her at the University Center an update on issues such as enrollment and how UCCS compares with other universities in areas such as overall funding and student graduation rates.

“One of the reasons I remain concerned,” Shockley-Zalabak said after delivering an upbeat report on record fall enrollment, “is that among our 31 peer universities across the nation, there is a big gap in the amount of state support received. By every measure, we are receiving the least amount of money.”

Maintaining high quality within severe financial constraints remains a concern and students are correct to wonder if the quality of academic programs is declining. Shockley-Zalabak cited graduation rates, student success on professional exams and the percentage of UCCS students accepted for graduate study as indicators that the quality of a UCCS education remains high.

In response to questions about tuition, Shockley-Zalabak said she expects public universities and colleges in Colorado to increase tuition from seven to 27 percent next year and that tuition increases at UCCS will be “as low as possible” and likely to increase in the seven to nine percent range.

Other questions included long-term plans for additional sports facilities on North Nevada, providing free university counseling services, additional study abroad opportunities, and more parking spaces.

But it was a question about sewer gas at the Summit Village student housing complex that drew the most direct response.

“It’s awful, I hate it. I’m with you,” Shockley-Zalabak said. “The bottom line is that we messed up when we built housing. We’ve had at least ten studies over the years that have concluded that we have what amounts to an inversion where winds off the bluffs push the sewer gasses down. If anyone here is an engineering student and looking for a project, I’ve got one for you. If you can figure this out, you’ll have a very appreciative university.”

Shockley-Zalabak encouraged students to work with student government representatives to bring concerns to the administration, to participate in regular brown bag lunches conducted in student housing, to send e-mails, or to ask questions of other UCCS administrators including Peg Bacon, provost, and Homer Wesley, vice chancellor, Student Success. Bacon and Wesley attended the forum.

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