The University of Colorado Board of Trustees received an update on student retention efforts at their regular meeting Nov. 3-4 at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Regents also approved a resolution encouraging campuses to develop additional resources in Spanish for prospective and incoming students, discussed a resolution relating to the use of fetal stem cells in research, approved several faculty awards and alumni and bid farewell to three regents whose terms are ending.
Student Retention Update
Regents received a campus-by-campus update on freshman retention rates and plans to improve those rates, which is an area of focus in the CU System Strategic Plan.
At CU Boulder, 87.8% of freshmen who started in fall 2021 returned for sophomores in fall 2022, setting a new campus retention record.
Among students from underrepresented groups, defined in this case as Hispanic, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander, 81.8% of freshmen returned for sophomore year in fall 2022, down slightly from to a retention rate of 82.4% the previous year.
The Boulder campus is engaged in several efforts to increase student retention, including strengthening the first-year academic advising network, improving recruiting partnerships with university programs, continuing predictive analytics to identify students who need support, develop a common program and increase access to the First Year Experience program and living learning communities.
The campus is also exploring additional measures aimed at closing the gap between the general student body and students from underrepresented minorities.
Campus leaders discussed details and answered questions from Regents in breakout sessions during the meeting.
Resources in Spanish
The board unanimously approved a resolution encouraging campuses to continue producing resources related to applications, admissions, financial aid, orientation, housing and other topics in Spanish.
Campuses are already involved in such efforts, according to Regent Jack Kroll, and the resolution encourages them to regularly update the finance committee on the costs of producing these resources.
The resolution notes that students from Spanish-speaking families are among the fastest growing demographic of college-eligible students in the state.
“We are obligated, I believe, as a university to make ourselves accessible to students across the state of Colorado,” Kroll said. “And many Colorado State students come from families where English is not the first language spoken at home.”
Resolution on Fetal Stem Cell Research
The board discussed a resolution from Regent Heidi Ganahl encouraging the university to strengthen its policies and practices to ensure that aborted human fetal tissue is never used for research. The resolution calls on the scientific ethics committee to seek alternative methods for accomplishing the research.
“We are leading in so many things at CU, especially CU Anschutz, but this is one area where I think we can do better and make a statement and do better to stop this practice,” Ganahl said.
Regent Ken Montera offered to refer the resolution to the University Affairs Committee for further discussion, saying he wanted more information on current policies and procedures on the use of embryonic stem cells in research. The motion to send the matter back to committee passed 7 to 2, with Regents Glen Gallegos and Ilana Spiegel voting against.
CU Boulder Campus Update
Chancellor Philip DiStefano provided an update on Boulder campus activities, including results from Colorado Free Application Days, a program that allows Colorado residents to apply for free to all public and some private colleges and universities in the state.
CU Boulder received 10,483 applications this year, according to preliminary counts — mostly freshman applications as well as 212 transfer requests — which is a 2% increase from last year’s free application days.
He also described the campus’ decision this summer to move Health and Wellbeing Services under Strategic Relationships and Support to take a more holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing for faculty, the staff and students.
“Supporting health and wellness is critical to our success in the classroom, lab, and workplace,” DiStefano said.
He noted that there are only four weeks left until the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit, which CU Boulder is hosting with United Nations Human Rights from December 1-4. Registrations are now open on the summit websiteas well as information on Watch Globally, Engage Locally Event Series focused on local experts and the impacts of climate change.
The Board of Regents recognized the services of three regents. Regent Sue Sharkey served 12 years as the elected regent of Congressional District 4. Kroll served six years as the elected regent of Congressional District 1. Ganahl served six years as an elected regent at large.
At the end of their terms, Regents will be designated Regents Emeritus for their dedication and service to the University of Colorado. It was their last regular board meeting.
The board also:
Approved the establishment of the Larry Gold Endowed Chair at CU Boulder. The chair honors Gold, who has been a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology since 1969 and whose research focuses on human disease.
Approved two permanent appointments and four sabbaticals for CU Boulder faculty members and several Emeritus Professor appointments. Approved recipients of Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Service Awards and Academic Medals for 2023. These alumni and supporters will be publicly recognized in April.
Received a petition from a UCCS student government representative calling on the CU system to divest system investment and endowment from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in clean energy by the end of 2027.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Directors is scheduled for February 9-10, 2023, at the CU system office.