Welcome to a new academic year. It is nice to see our students, faculty, and staff return to campus and the excitement that abounds for all that will occur in the months ahead. Thank you to everyone who contributed to welcoming our new and returning students to UNC and those who participated in the many fun activities and events that took place during New Student Days.
It was a busy and productive summer as we transitioned to the second two-year phase of our strategic plan, Rowing, Not Drifting 2030. While the first two years of our plan, which was launched in January 2020, were marked by unexpected challenges, we were always focused on efforts to move UNC forward in a way that affirmed our commitment to put students first.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the progress we made. I am proud of our many Phase 1 Accomplishments, which include establishing our Students First framework to provide additional infrastructure for our recruitment, retention, and graduation efforts; developing data analytic tools to provide more robust decision-making support for our campus community; conducting a brand audit to better define UNC’s identity, the results of which will be shared later this fall; completing the discovery phase of UNC’s plan to become a model Hispanic Serving Institution; and closing the books on our best fundraising year in history. And that is just the beginning of a very long list.
While not every accomplishment is immediately visible as you walk across campus, the many positive impacts of our collective efforts are felt by our students, faculty, and staff. One visible accomplishment that I am particularly proud of is the expansion of our on-campus dining options. The new offerings not only provide places to eat and drink, they also create more spaces for members of our community to come together to share ideas and dialogue.
Now that the fall semester is underway, our focus can shift toward the opportunities to continue to move UNC forward. One priority in the coming year will be to continue to strengthen the curriculum and program review processes. This work will be led by Dr. Kirsten Fleming, provost and executive vice president, working in partnership with faculty and other campus leaders. Another area of focus will be to develop and implement a strategic enrollment management plan to help UNC achieve and maintain optimum recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. This work will build on the Students First Framework and will be led by Dr. Cedric Howard, vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services.
This year we also must continue to have conversations about UNC’s current financial health and budget outlook. Much like I did when I first arrived, I will be holding town hall discussions with the university community to engage in open and candid conversations. We are well-positioned to invest in the university and our strategic planning priorities through focused efforts to align the expenditures and revenues we are seeing in the face of new enrollment realities. Your input is important, and I hope you will participate in these conversations, the details of which will be shared in the coming weeks.
Rowing together is vital to our shared success, and I ask that you look for areas of alignment between your own work, specific actions and tactics, and the overall direction outlined for UNC through Phase 2 of our strategic plan. I will be doing similar work with the Board of Trustees to align my goals for the year with our strategic plan and to solicit input from the university community on ways I can be more effective in my role as president. As always, I welcome your feedback as we continue to work together toward our shared vision of being the institution that Colorado looks to as the future of higher education.
As we kick off the fall semester, I am excited for the many opportunities to see and engage with the campus community formally and informally. I hope you will join me on Wednesday, September 14 at 9:00 a.m. at the Campus Commons Performance Hall for our annual State of the University address.
The University of Northern Colorado is well positioned for the future, thanks in large part to you — our exceptional community of Bears. Best wishes for a successful start to the fall semester.
Rowing, Not Drifting,