Chancellor, provost promote academic excellence in first town hall

Tom Christensen
Venkat Reddy

During the first town hall meeting of the 2017-18 academic year Aug. 30, Chancellor Venkat Reddy and Provost Tom Christensen challenged UCCS faculty and staff members to embrace changes coming to higher education.

Reddy and Christensen described higher education trends that will affect UCCS and also spelled out their early vision for the campus during the first half of the meeting. During the second half, they initiated a discussion about academic excellence.

The town hall was standing room only, so a second town hall will happen 2:30-3:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in University Center room 303.

Reddy outlined five trends in higher education that will shape how UCCS grows and serves students:

  • A changing student body. Future students will be increasingly non-traditional, older, working, first-generation and minority.
  • Falling revenue. State financial support, philanthropy and grants are expected to decline.
  • Rising demands, namely in the cost of higher education and increasing student debt.
  • Greater scrutiny. Employers, elected officials and the public are placing greater scrutiny on colleges and universities and expecting more transparency.
  • New educational models. These include online and hybrid classes as well as competency-focused course bundles and accelerated three-year degrees.

Fall 2017 enrollment tops 12,500, Reddy said. UCCS hired nearly 60 new faculty members this year, bringing the faculty ranks to 794, with 772 staff members and 1,700 students working at UCCS.

“We are no longer a small little campus sitting on top of the hill,” Reddy said. “We are a real force in this community.”

Reddy offered a view of academic excellence that includes stellar instruction in the classroom, rich learning experiences in the classroom and community, cutting-edge research, innovative and relevant programs, programs of national distinction, service to the campus and community, diversity in students, faculty and staff and engaged alumni and the community.

During the discussion, faculty and staff members raised a number of issues that affect academic excellence. Those include having appropriate classroom and library space on campus, attracting and retaining the best faculty members possible, offering professional development to faculty members, providing support to department chairs, learning more about the newest generation of college-age students and recognizing the mental health needs of students and offering appropriate services.

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