Honoring committed leadership and service: CU Board of Regents names Venkat Reddy Chancellor Emeritus 

The campus was a different place when Venkat Reddy stepped into the role of Chancellor of UCCS in 2017. Over the six and a half years he served as chancellor, UCCS opened its downtown location and the Mountain Lion field house. Clyde Way connected the central and west campus for the first time. UCCS launched the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience and renovated the MOSAIC and LGBTQ+ resource centers, along with opening the T. Rowe Price Career and Innovation Center. Through a public-private partnership, the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center opened. UCCS forged ahead in cybersecurity with the Kevin W. O’Neil Cybersecurity Education and Research Center. And the Anschutz Engineering Center reached its halfway point.  

Not only did Chancellor Reddy preside over the strategic academic expansion of the campus buildings and infrastructure, but also the work going on inside those buildings — including increases in research activity leading to an R2 research classification. By engaging the campus and community stakeholders, UCCS completed the formulation of its 2030 strategic plan in February of 2020. The university increased its online programs and added five Bachelor’s, three master’s and four doctoral programs, one being the first doctoral degree for the College of Business, pushing UCCS over its fiftieth bachelor’s degree, offering 140 degrees at the bachelors, master’s and doctorate levels, including the nation’s first Bachelor of Innovation. Towards the end of Reddy’s tenure, the School of Public Affairs was renamed the College of Public Service, offering community workforce degrees in Social Work, public administration, criminal justice in addition to robust certificate offerings.

There is a lot of growth and innovation to be proud of, and Reddy is quick to defer credit to the tireless faculty and staff who spearheaded these innovations. But it’s not the buildings or programs that bring him the most gratitude for his tenure as chancellor. For Reddy, it’s the people. 

“The most valuable thing is relationships,” said Reddy. “Just spending time with people, talking to our students, encouraging them to be leaders because they’re the future of our nation.” Reddy went on to say that building relationships with the members of the UCCS community, stakeholders, and the larger community of the Pikes Peak region is what he is most proud of during his time as chancellor. “For me, that would be the top.” 

And building relationships became critically important during Reddy’s tenure. The campus changed, but the globe changed even more. The world’s first pandemic reshaped the landscape of higher education and the nature of modern work. “How do you navigate an environment that you have no experience in, I mean nobody had experience, not just me,” said Reddy. As the sitting chancellor during the 2020 pandemic, COVID played an inseparable role in Reddy’s tenure. As orders came down from the federal government in March of 2020 for campuses to close, colleges and universities scrambled to move classes online and navigate uncharted terrain.   

“You have to look at your core values and say, ‘what’s the most important thing that we can do?’ And that’s when we decided that the health and safety of our campus citizens is our top priority. Every decision we were making during COVID aligned with that. We had our core values navigate us,” said Reddy.  

Reddy’s voice warmed with pride, and he couldn’t help but smile as he continued, “I’m so proud of our faculty, staff and students because everyone stepped up and did what needed to be done during that time.”  

“At the end of the day, we want to help our students navigate through their academic journey so we will do everything we can to support them and help them. It takes a village, right? So it did.” 

The pandemic posed the biggest challenge for the university during Reddy’s tenure. Many institutions are still recovering, and the nature of higher education will never be the same. But just as it loomed as an unprecedented hurdle, it also became a crucible for the strengths of UCCS to shine.  

“We also accomplished a lot despite COVID,” said Reddy. “We made huge strides in cybersecurity. We made huge strides in health and wellness. We built a public-private partnership to make the Hybl Center happen. We opened the Ent Center for the Arts during that time, and despite all that, we raised a lot of money to do capital construction to give scholarships to our students. We built relationships with community colleges in our state to offer joint programs. There are lots of things that I am very proud of that we made happen despite challenging times.”  

And of course, for Chancellor Emeritus Reddy, it comes back to relationships: “I want to give a huge shout out to our chancellor’s staff, our administrators, faculty staff and student governance leadership, the system office, I could go on and on how many people I had the opportunity to work with and made things happen because of those relationships. I am also grateful to my family for their support and inspiration during this time.” 

Reddy spent six and a half years as chancellor, a long term in today’s climate of high turnover in higher education executive leadership. Before becoming chancellor, Reddy spent almost 13 years as the dean of the College of Business. From the classroom to the fourth floor of Main Hall, Reddy’s career at UCCS has given him a remarkable perspective of the school. When asked what makes UCCS unique, he responded with no hesitation:  

“People, people, people. Our faculty and staff have huge hearts for our students and are committed to transforming lives. And one of the things that really sets it apart is nobody says, ‘that’s not my job.’ You ask anybody, they’ll make sure they’re going to help you out. When you talk to people, they’re more than happy to come help you,” said Reddy. “If you’re willing to connect with people, then lots more people are willing to connect back with you.”  

Reddy’s Impact

“Dr. Reddy should be congratulated for serving as our chancellor for more than six years, a tenure that is longer than most in today’s environment. Leading a contemporary institution of higher education is a particularly challenging endeavor even without a worldwide pandemic. Under his leadership we managed to keep pathways open for students to achieve academic progress despite such a significant disruption. He was a consistent voice for unity in the face of challenge, and our entire campus responded admirably.” 

  • Dr. George E. Reed, dean of the College of Public Service 

“Dr. Reddy has had significant impact on UCCS as Chancellor. His work through the pandemic was significant finding the balance between safety and student focused education. He brought the experience of a faculty member and dean to the chancellor position understanding the impact of cabinet decisions on academics. His background and leadership style strengthened UCCS while also contributing to the initiatives of the CU System.” 

  • Dr. Don Rabern, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science 

“Venkat’s leadership was instrumental in leading the university through a comprehensive, inclusive process of creating the 2030 strategic plan to guide the university forward. He also admirably led the campus at a very challenging time through uncharted waters with the Covid pandemic”.   

  • Martin Wood, senior vice chancellor of University Advancement Division. 

“Dr. Reddy spent his entire career at UCCS and was deeply and completely committed to its success. He particularly recognized the importance of nurturing programs that could distinguish UCCS and build its reputation. The Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center opened during his tenure, and he worked hard to support the development of the Hybl Center and the distinctive programs in it, such as, for example, the new Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Similarly, he worked to bring the aerospace engineering program to UCCS, another program that can strengthen UCCS’ reputation.  And he helped build and support a cyber security program that continues to attract regional and national attention. I believe that Venkat’s recognition of the importance of elevating programs such as these and determination to provide support to them will be of lasting impact.” 

  • Charles “Charlie” Sweet, retired vice chancellor of Strategic Initiatives 

“Our campus is very unique in the way we have engaged with our community,” Reddy continued. “We don’t see ourselves separate from our community. We see us together because what we are building on our campus is the future workforce for our community. So we are really joined at the hip on this, and I hope that commitment continues, no matter who’s the next leader of the campus.” 

In recognition of his tireless advocacy and advancement of the UCCS campus, the CU Board of Regents recognized Reddy as Chancellor Emeritus on September 7, 2023.

“Now therefore, it be resolved that the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado expresses its deep gratitude to Venkat Reddy for his loyal and faithful service, leadership, and outstanding contributions to the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and to the entire University of Colorado system in the Chancellor role.”

Many CU leaders and Regents thanked Reddy for his passion and commitment to UCCS, advancing the campus and its strategic initiatives and leading the community the challenging times of the pandemic.  

“We heard in the resolution all the amazing work you’ve done partnering with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs community and southern Colorado,” said Regent Ilana Dublin Spiegel. “And I think at the heart of that is your heart for student experience and what an education can provide for our students. I think that the lives that you’ve inspired and changed through your vision of what an education can do is wonderful.”

And though he is stepping away from campus leadership, Reddy is not done seeing what he can do to help UCCS, nor is he retiring. Reddy is returning to the classroom, which in his heart of hearts is where he has always wanted to be.  

“When I did my Ph.D. in finance at Penn State, my goal was to be a professor of finance at a university,” said Reddy. “Now I like to joke about that, saying, ‘I’m a teacher at heart. I really get a lot of energy being in the classroom. Maybe somewhere along the way I lost my way, became a dean, and then a chancellor. Now it’s my opportunity to go back into the classroom, where I all along planned to be.’ So I’m very much looking forward to that.” 

For Reddy, that is the best part of working in higher education, having a direct impact on the lives of students and having the opportunity to cultivate the areas of interest that bring passion and curiosity.  

“In the education field, you’re transforming lives. You are giving something that nobody else can take away from you,” said Reddy. “I used to say often that when we help one first generation student, we just helped entire future generations to go to college. That’s powerful.”  

“At the end of the day, a human life is about making a difference in other people’s lives,” Reddy continued. “That’s where you get the greatest satisfaction. As an educator, what greater gift can you have to be put in a place where you can make such a tremendous positive impact on somebody’s life and know that more lives will be impacted positively that you won’t even know about? That’s what keeps you going.” 

Reddy transitioned to special advisor to CU President Todd Saliman at the end of his tenure as chancellor, working with him on focused projects that benefit the University of Colorado. He plans on returning to his faculty position as Professor of Finance in the College of Business in fall 2024.