Tom Christensen, provost, to return to the classroom in 2021

Portrait of Tom Christensen
Provost Tom Christensen

Tom Christensen, former dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and longtime UCCS professor of physics, will step down from his position as provost on June 30, 2021.

“This coming year marks my fourth year as provost, 32nd year at UCCS and 65th year on this planet,” Christensen wrote to campus earlier this week. “At the conclusion of the academic year we will have completed our mid-term campus accreditation review, prepared to implement a new budget model and completed revisions to campus academic policies and procedures in compliance with changes to Regent law and policies. This seems like a good time to transition to a new provost.” 

Christensen joined UCCS in 1989 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1994, and full professor in 2007. He served as dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences from 2005 to 2012 and was previously interim dean of the college and chair and co-chair of the Physics and Energy Science Department. He served as co-director of UCCSTeach, an innovative program that encourages science and math majors to teach at the secondary school level, from 2012 to 2017.

Christensen was named provost – the chief academic officer of the university – on July 1, 2017 after a national search. He plans to return to the classroom for a final year of teaching before retiring in May 2022.

“I want to thank Provost Christensen not only for his years of service as provost, but for his longtime commitment to UCCS,” Chancellor Venkat Reddy said. “Tom understands our community of teachers, scholars and researchers from the inside out. His insights into our campus and his commitment to our balanced teaching and research model have helped us grow into a stronger university.”

“As many of you know, Tom and I served as deans together, and have developed a great chemistry in our current roles as well. I am very hopeful that our next provost will continue the good work Tom has done. We will be taking steps soon to identify a search committee and conduct a national search.”

Christensen makes remarks at the Ent Center for the Arts.

His accolades include the Excellence in Leadership Award from the CU System, the UCCS Chancellor’s Award and Outstanding Teaching Awards from the university and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. His research in experimental surface physics has led to 21 published papers in international science journals and over 90 presentations at scientific meetings.

A native Minnesotan, Christensen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and master’s and Ph.D. from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a member of the beloved UCCS Physics Classic Rock and Roll Orchestra, for which he plays bass guitar, and in his spare time plays string bass for the Pikes Peak Philharmonic orchestra.

“It has been an amazing experience to see this campus grow and develop over these decades and to be part of that process,” Christensen wrote in his letter to campus. “My thanks to all of you whose friendship, encouragement and support have helped me over the years. I look forward to continuing to work with you as Provost in this coming academic year.”