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2022 Year in Review

The University of Northern Colorado has had a lot to celebrate throughout 2022. Relive some of the achievements and progress UNC students, faculty, staff and community members have made in 2022, including a collection of photos throughout the year.

The University of Northern Colorado has had a lot to celebrate throughout 2022. Listed below are some of the achievements and progress UNC students, faculty, staff and community members have made in 2022, including a collection of photos throughout the year: 

Student Honors and Achievements 

  • UNC students reflected on their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing their resiliency through artwork for University Libraries' Reflecting Back, Looking Forward student art exhibition. 
  • Michael Nolting, a 19-year-old business major at UNC, self-published his first novel, The Thorn. A huge accomplishment considering Nolting was diagnosed in the third grade with Dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes reading and writing difficult. The story is a young adult science fiction fantasy about a hostile alien invasion taking over the planet, with a plot that forces the lead character into making challenging decisions. 
  • Kennedy Dechant, a sophomore Environmental and Sustainability Studies, never imagined that she would one day be running her own business. Now the owner of the online thrift store, Eclecticism, Dechant participated and was a finalist in UNC’s 2022 Entrepreneurial Challenge, earning $2,000 that she put back into her business. 
  • Graduate students Ashley Coburn and Breanna King were awarded a $5,000 grant from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing to support a research project intended to improve mental health first aid training and outcomes in rural mountain west towns. The third-year doctoral students are both in UNC’s School of Psychology program. 
  • Students Nikaya Lawson and Ann Adele Blassingame created the collective art movement Black is Punk that opens dialogues about blackness, queerness and other minority issues through art. This initiative not only provides space for students to be represented, but also helps to raise awareness on important diversity matters. 
  • UNC GIS students and faculty at UNC put their skills to work spearheading a humanitarian effort that could impact communities across the globe. Sarah Karr, a senior Psychology major with a double minor in Environmental Studies and GIS and Andrade-Schuch, a senior Environmental and Sustainability Studies major, co-led this year’s annual Mapathon — an event where a group of people come together on a particular day to voluntarily work on a collective mapping project. The event was in support of Missing Maps, an open, collaborative project co-founded by the American Red Cross that empowers volunteers to map areas where humanitarian organizations are working. 
  • UNC undergraduate honors student Madison Gremillion received national recognition for her research exploring the quality of conversations healthcare professionals have with patients receiving end-of-life care. Her project, titled “Comfort of Healthcare Professionals with End-of-Life Patient Communication: Exploring Comfort, Communication, and Education of Healthcare Professionals for End-of-Life Care,” placed first in the Biological Sciences category poster presentation and won the Sloane Prize for Undergraduate Research at the 57th annual National Collegiate Honors Conference (NCHC) in early November. Shukuru Rushanika, also an undergraduate honors student, was selected to present in the Natural Sciences poster category with a project titled “Utilizing Nurr77 as a Surrogate Biomarker for CD8+ T-Cell Activation to Assess the Immunological Effects of Berberine and Exercise.” His research will provide insights into ways that the medical community can better combat many auto-immune disorders. 
  • UNC’s Graduate School hosted two Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competitions this year, providing graduate students with the opportunity to hone skills critical to the communication of their scholarship with a broad audience. Anne Boris was the winner of UNC's spring 2022 3MT. Her dissertation project, "Stealth Dyslexia: Cognitive and Achievement Profiles of Gifted Students with Dyslexia," was one of seven presentations delivered by UNC graduate students. Lea Haverbeck Simon was the winner of UNC’s fall 2022 3MT. Her dissertation project, “Effect of Exercise Training on Circulating Cancer-Associated Immune Cells in. Breast Cancer Patients,” was one of five presentations delivered by UNC graduate students. 
  • Over 2,300 UNC Bears graduated in the spring and fall 2022 commencement ceremonies; their ages, interests, backgrounds and paths forward all unique. Take a deeper look at some of ourspring graduates, including 78-year-old Kent Trompeter who started his first year of teaching secondary history, as read the stories some of our fall graduates were willing to share with us.

  • As of Nov. 18, 927 students were slated to graduate this fall with 526 earning bachelor’s degrees and 401 earning either a master’s, doctoral or specialist degree. The fall 2022 degrees will be conferred in January 2023.

  • There were approximately 1,445 spring and summer graduates in 2022, with around 1,065 earning bachelor’s degrees and 380 earning either a master’s, doctoral or specialist degree.

  • Altogether, UNC celebrated a total of over 2,372 graduates in the combined 2022 ceremonies (1,591 undergraduates and 781 graduates).

Faculty and Staff Research, Scholarship and Honors 

  • As of Dec. 9, the university has received over $5 million in external grants and contracts through the Office of Research and Special Projects.
  • UNC Professor Deanna Meinke, Ph.D. received the 2022 Jerger Career Award for research in audiology. The Jerger award recognizes individuals whose innovative research contributions in the field of audiology/hearing and balance sciences has had groundbreaking impacts on the field and/or practice of audiology. 
  • Meteorology Professor Cindy Shellito, Ph.D., received her second Fulbright scholarship, that is taking her across the Pacific Ocean to Vietnam for five months to develop climate change driven curricula through international collaboration with University of Dalat’s Department of Chemistry and the Environment.  
  • Lyndsey Crum, ‘05, assistant vice president for UNC's Alumni Relations, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to participate in an International Education Administrators Seminar in Germany. In October, Crum traveled to Berlin, Germany for a two-week group seminar where she explored Germany’s higher education system, society and culture. The Fulbright Program chose recipients based on their significant involvement in international educational exchange services, career services, alumni affairs or fundraising. 
  • School of Teacher Education Professor Suzette Youngs, Ph.D., has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Sears Helgoth Distinguished Teaching Award. This award is administered by UNC's College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and recognizes UNC's commitment to high-quality and innovative teaching along with the historical importance of the teaching mission at UNC by rewarding faculty members (tenured, tenure-track, contract renewable) who have made outstanding contributions to teaching and learning that result in the enhancement of the intellectual development and lives of students. 
  • UNC’s School of Art and Design (SOAD) Director Donna Goodwin, Ph.D., was awarded Art Educator of the Year by the Colorado Art Education Association’s fall conference. The award recognizes excellence in contributions, dedicated service and professional achievements in the field of visual arts education. Award recipients “exemplify highly qualified art educators that are leaders, teachers, students, scholars and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.” 
  • Karen Barton, Ph.D., a professor of Geography and GIS in UNC’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences was awarded her eighth and ninth Fulbright awards in 2022 that will have her traveling to separate continents to continue her research in community resilience and adaptation and global environmental change. For four weeks over winter break, Barton is headed to Bangladesh on a Fulbright Specialist award. In collaboration with the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) in Dhaka and the Center for Bay of Bengal Studies, she'll spend her time working to help reduce plastics pollution in the Bay of Bengal, specifically focusing on mitigation and education efforts targeting single-use plastics.

Strategic Planning 

  • In alignment with UNC's Empower Inclusivity vision element, the university was recognized with the “Best of the Best" award for being a LGBTQ-friendly campus based on the Campus Pride index. Campus Pride is an organization that works with university communities nationwide “to help support and improve the quality of campus life for LGBTQ people,” as explained on their website. 
  • UNC in June concluded the first two-year phase of the Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 strategic plan. Many of the accomplishments achieved during Phase I laid the groundwork that put the right people, processes, technologies and tools in place. A summary of achievements from Phase I can be found on UNC’s strategic planning website. 
  • Based on feedback from the UNC community collected in the spring of 2022, five new key actions were identified to guide the second two-year phase of the strategic plan: Develop and implement a Strategic Enrollment Management plan; build on Phase I foundational work to ensure UNC is a Students First university; continue development and implementation of faculty and staff recruitment, engagement and retention plans; create plans, structures and programs that foster an inclusive environment at UNC where individuals feel welcomed and supported; and create and implement an academic portfolio management plan. 
  • Continuing work started during the previous year, Provost and Executive Vice President Kirsty Fleming undertook efforts to align UNC’s academic portfolio with the needs of students and the marketplace. This necessary work to secure UNC’s future success was done in partnership with deans, faculty, and other campus leaders. 
  • To help UNC achieve and maintain optimum recruitment, retention and graduation rates, efforts were started todevelop a strategic enrollment management plan. This work is being led by Cedric Howard, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. The new division was formed in June when Enrollment Management was realigned under Student Affairs to better provide a transformative student experience that positively impacts student access, academic success, persistence, and graduation. 
  • With enrollment of Hispanic and Latinx undergraduate students above 25% for the first time in fall 2022, UNC was able to take the next steps to apply for federal Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation on a timeline consistent with the university’s goals. A HSI steering committee, chaired by Tobias Guzmán, vice president of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Fleming, was appointed to help guide UNC’s efforts. 
  • In support of the vision element “Innovate and Create,” UNC continued to make progress in establishing a College of Osteopathic Medicine. Thanks to the leadership of founding dean Dr. Beth Longenecker, who joined UNC in June, and the work of many partners, UNC this year started the process of creating a program plan for a facility to house the college; developed a hiring plan and operational budget; and established a college advisory board with representatives from the university, clinical partners, the city and the county. This transformative effort will not only expand UNC’s offerings in the health sciences, but also meet a critical need for physicians in our community and beyond.  
  • Over the past year, UNC continued to develop and implement faculty and staff recruitment, engagement and retention plans. This included implementing a multi-year equitable and competitive compensation plan for faculty and staff that builds on efforts from the previous two years. Additionally, after pilots during previous years, UNC again implemented in 2022 half-day Fridays over the summer and an extended winter break at the end of 2022.  

Academic Programming and Planning 

  • Kirsten Fleming, Ph.D. was selected in February as the new executive vice president and provost. Fleming has over 30 years of higher education experience, including over three years at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) where she served as the associate vice president (AVP) of Faculty Affairs, and six years at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) where she was dean of the College of Natural Sciences and professor of Mathematics. 
  • In March, UNC made key progress in its ongoing exploration of creating a not-for-profit college of osteopathic medicine within the university when Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 56 on Thursday, March 17. The legislation, introduced to the Senate on Jan. 18, allows the university to offer specialized degree programs in osteopathic medicine. The bill was passed unanimously through the House and Senate, receiving bipartisan support.   
  • The Accounting and Computer Information Systems Department at UNC’s Monfort College of Business was ranked as the number one program in the world for experimental research in Accounting Information Systems. The top recognition, from among more than 630 universities measured, comes from the annual Brigham Young University Accounting rankings. 
  • The School of Sport and Exercise Science and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics combined this year to form the Department of Kinesiology,Nutrition and Dietetics (KiND) under the College of Natural and Health Sciences. Professor and KiND Chair David Hydock, Ph.D., said the merger will facilitate more collaboration and opportunities for students.   
  • UNC welcomed 24 new faculty in fall 2022, representing every college across the university. Some of those new faculty members include Vivian Guetler who joined the Criminology and Criminal Justice program; Bonnie Buss who joined the Chemistry and Biochemistry department; Daniel Farr who joined UNC’s School of Music as the new associate director of Bands; and Hye Jeong Park who joined UNC’s School of Art and Design as an assistant professor for Graphic Design and Digital Art. 

Community, Alumni and Donor Engagement

  • To date in 2022, more than 3,000 donors have made more than 5,500 individual gifts to UNC, contributing more than $16 million in philanthropic support. 
  • Alumni and friends made contributions to more than 250 scholarship funds in 2022, directly enabling students to attend UNC and persist in their studies. 
  • UNC posted a record fundraising year in fiscal year 2022, thanks to the ongoing generous support of the UNC community, as 3,784 donors commit $22,325,280 and continue to impact lives through higher education.  
  • In January, UNC convened a panel of state legislators and local leaders to preview the spring 2022 legislative session. The pressing topics of interest this year included the Joint Budget Committees’ consideration of higher education and preschool through grade 12 funding, prepping students for success, and generating a safer Colorado. 
  • UNC alumna Annette Martinez’s appointment to UNC’s Board of Trustees by Governor Jared Polis was confirmed in February. Martinez is a senior vice president with State Farm Insurance Companies where she has worked since 1988. During her career, she served in several leadership roles in both human resources and business operations, gaining considerable experience in leadership development, diversity and inclusion, organizational design and crisis management. 
  • Neyla Pekarek ‘09 Grammy-nominated vocalist, cellist, and pianist former member of The Lumineers premiered her musicalRattlesnake Kate at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) on Feb. 4  
  • Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business named two new chairs thanks to donor support. Additionally, the Monfort Family Foundation renewed its support and naming of the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business, supporting scholarships, faculty excellence and the college’s greatest needs. 
  • The Empower Center – a training facility for UNC’s student athletes -- opened its doors after donor support made the university’s first fully donor-funded facility possible.  
  • Funding from several corporate donors to support UNC’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including our first-ever Juneteenth celebration and campus-wide UNITE trainings.  
  • More than 300 people attended UNC’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration, which hosted over 25 community and campus vendors and partners, helping to contribute material goods and money directly to Black makers, doers and creators through the event.   
  • Nearly 300 students and alumni participated in 10 virtual career panels to build their network and gain industry insight. Topics included exploring careers in K-12 education, alumni of color working in business, alumni working in sustainability and other industry and identity-focused areas.   
  • UNC presented its Honored Alumni Award to Robby Aguilar ’03; Natalie Lindeberg ’06; John ’84 and Angela ’89 Schmidt; Tom Severtson ’70, ’71; and Armando Silva, ‘10 in celebration of their service, commitment and dedication to the university. 
  • UNC received a $2 million award through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative’s (COSI) “Finish What You Started” program, which provides UNC students with $1.5 million 
    in scholarships for eligible students who started college but did not graduate before leaving. 
  • More than 300 participants in UNC’s annual Women’s Walk raised over $36,000 in support of UNC’s female student-athletes. 
  • Alumni Jennifer (McHugh) Taylor ’87 and Dan Taylor ’86 established the Daniel and Jennifer Taylor Family Scholarship Endowment through an estate gift currently valued at $375,000, in hopes that others will be able to experience UNC and Bear life.  
  • SCHEELS extended its generous support of outdoor recreation, not only providing UNC students, faculty and staff with more than 3,500 pieces of equipment they can borrow free of charge, but also providing resources for intramural and club sports as well as other campus recreation opportunities.  
  • Alumni Mark Berven ‘94 and Tammy Berven ’94 established the Berven Athletic Leadership Scholarship, which supports one football student-athlete and one female student-athlete who are in their third or fourth seasons and who are active leaders on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.  
  • During UNC’s Bearnanza event Nov. 29 to Dec. 6, generous alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and community members raised more than twice the funds as the prior year’s campaign, and gave nearly $8,000 to UNC’s feature fund, the Student Emergency Support Fund. This fund provides financial awards to students facing unforeseen crises and had been depleted prior to this year’s campaign. Thanks to donor support, UNC will be able to begin awarding these funds to students again immediately.


2022 in Pictures

Silent Disco

January – Silent Disco hosted by the University Program Council.

Vi Dang

February – Students attended the Asian Pacific American Student Services' Lunar New Year.

UNC students

February – During the 2022 Future Teachers Conference hundreds of participants learned about what is needed to become an educator.

The Empower Center

March – UNC opened up the new Empower Center for student-athletes to train in.

Students dancing

March – Students enjoying the Black Student Unit field day.

UNC Luau

April – The celebratory spirit of Lūʻau.

Spring commencement

May – Congratulations to the new graduates on Spring 2022 Commencement 

Students Dancing

June – More than 300 people celebrating freedom during UNC's Juneteenth event.

UNC student putting on lipstick

July – After almost two years of canceled shows, UNC theatre students were back on the stage this summer.

Concert at night

August – Bluegrass performance as part of the Concert Under the Stars.


September – UNC Fraternity and Sorority students celebrating Homecoming 2022.

Food truck

October – UNC welcomed more food options with two brand new Klawz Kruiser food trucks.

Silver Maple Tree

November – Honoring one of the oldest trees in Weld County: the silver maple tree

Nursing 60th Anniversary

December – Reflecting on 60 years of the School of Nursing during the anniversary event.

– Written by Carlos José Pérez Sámano, Deanna Herbert and Debbie Moors

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