Norton Talks Milestones, Commons, Other Priorities in Annual Address

University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton highlighted milestones and provided an overview of this year's priorities, including the construction of a signature building that will "create meaningful connections," at her annual fall address Wednesday, Sept. 7.

A capacity crowd of over 400 gathered as Norton recapped progress on ambitious targets for long-term fiscal sustainability during the State of the University address in the University Center ballrooms. She also spent a good portion of the speech emphasizing the university's commitment to free speech and academic freedom while fostering a welcoming and inclusive community.

Among the milestones:

  • Enrollment: With a goal to reach 15,000 students by fall 2018, opening day figures show increases in new freshmen, transfer students and graduate students. Norton said grad students now make up 22 percent of the student body, with the goal to get to 25 percent.
  • Campus Commons: UNC will break ground on the innovative building during a ceremony Oct. 22. The updated architect's renderings of the building are still on display outside of the UC ballrooms. The Commons has received $38 million in state capital funding, and UNC has reached the halfway point in raising $12 million in fundraising for the project. Norton said the building will be completed by the end of 2018.

"The Commons represents the intersection of many interests — all of which are vital to our role as a university," she said. "It creates meaningful connections among three traditionally distinct functions — an integrated student support hub, a gateway for campus visitors, and modern performance space for our world-class arts programs — while also providing flexible public space for everyone to use."

The Campus Commons Engagement committee collected university community feedback last spring to inform the design features and other building components, including technology, landscaping, furniture, and building aesthetics.

In addition to the Commons and continued enrollment growth, this year's targets include community building. The university will launch a survey Sept. 20 as part of the two-year campus climate initiative.

"You'll be hearing more about this soon," Norton said. "I really hope you'll fill out the survey because we want to hear from every member of the university community."

Results from the survey will be used "to identify action steps" the university can take.

"As a campus community, we share the responsibility for creating a welcoming, inclusive and respectful environment where academic freedom and free speech remain sacrosanct," Norton said.

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