Welcome to the fall semester

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak welcomes newcomers and campus veterans alike in an open letter that expresses appreciation and encourages patience.

See the letter below.

Welcome back.

We have spent the first few days of a new academic year welcoming new students, new faculty and staff, and renewing working relationships on hold for summer vacations, sabbaticals, and projects.I want to add my welcome but also words of appreciation, encouragement and patience.

First, the appreciation.

While official enrollment numbers are still several days away, it appears as though we will have a record-breaking year, surpassing last fall’s enrollment of 8,469 and again having a well-qualified freshman class that is more than 1,200 strong.

We should celebrate this success by recognizing the work of many. Throughout the summer, offices from every sector of campus, most notably the members of the Division of Student Success, worked phones and e-mails to secure commitments from students who often weighed three or more scholarship offers. Deans and their staffs pitched in and it was an all-campus effort to put together old-fashioned – but effective – direct mail campaigns to students encouraging correct use of the new and sometimes difficult student information system, ISIS.

The members of our Facilities Services Department, have worked to open yet another renovated campus building on-time and within budget. The campus looks as beautiful and inviting as the pictures in our recruitment materials have led students to believe it would be. It is important that we deliver on our promises.

There are too many people to cite each individually for my appreciation. But I believe this community spirit and unification behind our steep enrollment targets is an important element in our university’s effort to become less reliant on state support. Boosting enrollment is what is right for southern Colorado collectively and for the future of our campus.

Secondly, I also wish to offer words of encouragement to the ISIS implementation team led by Steve Ellis and significantly supported from vice chancellors Brian Burnett and Homer Wesley.

No, ISIS is not perfect.

I speak for many in apologizing for slow response times and early bugs in replacing our 1980s-era (and no longer supported by its manufacturer) student records system. Yes, the old system worked. The question was for how much longer and what to do when it quit. As a result, approximately five years ago all CU campuses began this conversion in preparation for its first real test this week.

Each of us will face our own challenges with the system. Slow response times at the start of the semester are universally frustrating while others will curse new and more complicated paths.

This is the patience part of my message. As difficult as it is, and as perfect as we want ISIS to be, I encourage patience, both with ourselves and with those who surround us. Anyone who has worked on the fourth floor of Main Hall this summer will tell you I am talking to myself first and everyone else later.  Patience is not one of my top virtues.

I encourage taking time to view videos that offer tips on how to use the system or allowing time to attend in-person sessions. I also encourage honesty with students, explaining that this is a new system for everyone and that improvements are coming.

I also encourage patience with those who are working with ISIS. Share your concerns and ideas but do so with the realization that this group has worked tirelessly and continues to work hard to meet yours – and their own – high expectations.

Welcome to a new semester, a new academic year and the opportunity that a university provides for personal and professional renewal.


Pam Shockley-Zalabak

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