Hello, Mountain Lion family: A message from the interim chancellor

Jennifer Sobanet, Ed.D.

Even with just a few days on campus, my sense of honor and excitement to join such a vibrant and dedicated community continues to grow. As you surely know, it is truly a privilege to join the Mountain Lion family. Please join me in thanking our previous chancellor, Dr. Venkat Reddy, for his unwavering service and remarkable contributions to our campus. Under his guidance, our institution has flourished and earned a reputation for excellence. We are all deeply grateful for his tireless efforts in championing UCCS.  

Chancellor Reddy’s departure is a moment of change for both the campus administrative structure and for me. I recognize that change can bring a mixture of emotions and uncertainties. However, please rest assured that my intention is not to disrupt the progress we have made, but rather to build upon it. We’ll face challenges, but it will be no challenge to foster the spirit of collaboration and teamwork already thriving in our colleges and programs. We have a resilient community that has proven time and again its ability to adapt, overcome and flourish. 

By its nature, an interim appointment is time-limited; and in that time, I will prioritize fostering a collaborative, supportive and open culture within our campus. This begins by establishing a high-trust environment built on respect, kindness, empathy, accountability and curiosity. I believe that it is curiosity that opens us up the most to creating a high-trust environment as it naturally engages us in active listening and collaboration. 

Operationally, my time in leadership at UCCS will be guided by three priorities: shared governance, strategic enrollment and transparency in the budget.   

Shared Governance. My leadership style is human-centered, emphasizing listening to the community and learning from the dedicated leaders and skilled members of UCCS. I deeply value shared governance and believe in the importance of transparency and supporting each other’s roles. The only way for our campus to succeed is by pursuing our objectives in collaboration with one another. Together, we will strive to create an inclusive and supportive community where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their best.  

Strategic Enrollment. To set ourselves up for future success, it is imperative that we prioritize enrollment efforts. We have immense potential to diversify our student body and to cultivate a healthy student pipeline right here in Colorado Springs, across Colorado and the globe. Every member of campus must be involved in the retention of our students as we create for them a sense of belonging and a place where they find a safe, supportive environment to learn and grow. By fostering a culture of community and belonging among faculty and staff, that culture extends to the students. 

Budget Transparency. Most of my professional life has been directly involved with finance and budget development and implementation. I will work with our Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance and communications professionals to provide more information about key issues in the coming months. As you know, our budget is directly related to our enrollment, and a wider understanding of our financial picture will help us better understand our strategic enrollment needs. 

The fact is that no matter how we design our budget allocation process, it will not matter if revenue is declining. Building a healthier financial environment begins by building a healthier culture by focusing on our academic plan and our strategic enrollment plan. We must reframe ourselves into a growth mindset, locating where to invest and nurturing the pockets of growth that allow the university to breathe. We will use data to understand impact, and we will work together to make decisions. 

Happily, we are not starting from scratch. We do not need to reinvent the mission or long-term goals of the university. The 2030 strategic plan has laid a clear and vivid path for the campus. The outlined goals in the strategic plan will be the guide for everything we do.   

With these specific goals noted, let’s remember and recommit to the reason we are here: our students. Coming to our campus to learn, to grow, to participate in research, sports, the arts and clubs, students are the heart and soul of UCCS. Our mission is to provide transformative educational experiences that equip our students with the knowledge, skills and principles they need to not only thrive in the world, but to shape it. The tasks at hand are to further that mission. 

Thank you for your warm welcome and support as I join the Mountain Lion family. I am honored to work alongside you in our collective mission of transforming lives and contributing to our community, our nation and our world.