Improving DU

What changes or new strengths could make DU even more distinctive?

  • Madisson Goody

    Stop raising tuition. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for students to attend this school. If you want a diverse culture then it needs to be more attainable by people of all classes. Financial aid is offered to people who make hardly any money, but there is limited financial aid presented to the middle class students that are not wealthy enough to be able to afford tuition but are not by standards “in need” of financial aid. Higher, prestigious education at places like the University of Denver needs to be obtainable without having to take out immense amounts of loans. Since the University of Denver is a private university there should be the ability to keep prices low and help to support students attending the school.

    • Ed Rowe

      Hi, Madisson. Thanks for your comment. We are most certainly aware of the rising costs of higher education across the country and the need to ensure that a DU education is more accessible to more students. The University is committed to increasing resources for financial aid, but we absolutely must continue to consider costs and accessibility as we think about the future.


      Ed Rowe
      Director for Projects and Planning
      Office of the Chancellor

  • Gloria Bokenkamp

    As a parent, I would like to see the registration, advising, financial aid, travel abroad, etc. programs be much more seamless for our students. Given what is paid in tuition, our students’ experience with the business side of college should be so much easier than it is. The travel abroad program is very disjointed, which can be very frustrating for students and parents.

    • Philip Varley FCA, CPA, MBA

      So nothing has changed in thirty years eh? When I was a student there in the pre-digital age, you had to pay your tuition in person, by check, at a receipt window which was open for maybe four hours per day. As a night student with a day job, that made life difficult! What this is indicative of is that while a PhD may be a prerequisite to teach,, it certainly should not be a prerequisite to hold a top management position at the University, and customer focus should be much more of a priority. We are competing not just for local students, but internationally. I serve on the Advisory Board of my Undergraduate University, Imperial College London, and we are benchmarking worldwide, to ensure that we are recognized consistently as one of the top three Engineering Universities in the world. We have student focus group meetings during every Board session. And whether or not we believe that their complaints are valid, perception is reality, and we do everything in our power to address those complaints. I hope that DU will do likewise and that these suggestions will lead to action.

  • Mary Smith

    Outside of Greek life, religion and athletics, there are very few clubs and activities for social involvement. Without more diverse clubs, students who dont go Greek or play sports are disengaged. Look at all the activities and clubs that are available at Boulder, just as an example. As a parent of an out of state student, I would have encouraged my son to select a different school had I realized how few opportunities exist for social, fun and involvement on campus. DU feels like a commuter school because of this, and that makes it hard to write each tuition check. Next year my son will bring a car because the skeet shooting club at Boulder has told him he can join their club and participate with them. How sad is that?

    • Ed Rowe

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We are indeed hearing from students, faculty and staff the need to focus on building a stronger community on campus. For students, that absolutely involves activities, clubs and programming that engage students in all sorts of ways. Sorry that your son has not found the kinds of clubs here that he wants. I wonder if he has looked into the Alpine Club; I don’t think they do skeet shooting, but they do plenty of other outdoor activities to take advantage of Colorado. Your son is most welcome to email me or stop by my office, and I can put him in touch with some on-campus resources to learn more.

      Thanks again for the comment and good suggestion.

      • Ann Dronen

        I’d like to echo Mary’s comment. My son and several of his friends in his dorm are freshmen and for various reasons, do not want to or should not participate in the “rituals” associated with pledging a fraternity. However, they have recognized that the vast majority of social life centers around the Greek system.

  • Gina Johnson

    DU is developing excellent projects and programs related to sustainability. With more resources our University is poised to develop into a leader in campus sustainability.

  • Virginia Pitts

    I’m intrigued by the idea of what it would mean to really make collaboration a true strength of ours as a university. We know there’s increasing demand (from employers, parents, and students) for us to prepare students to work collaboratively. And the thing is this: If we want to really prepare our students to work collaboratively, we have to know how to do that incredibly well ourselves (not only so that we design learning experiences for our students that teach them to work collaboratively, but so we can model such collaboration for them and with them – my own belief is that we’d make huge strides if we focused less on ourselves as “staff, “instructors” and “students” and more on ourselves as a community of co-learners).

    My dream? Well, imagine a DU that is known nationally and internationally as the university that is really amazing at collaboration and creativity (or perhaps, “collaborative creativity”). By that, I mean we go way beyond being able to “get along” when we work together, and even beyond being able to do great team work and produce great outcomes (I’ve had some wonderful experiences on teams during my time here where we do indeed do that!). I mean we have learned how to collaborate in ways that tap into the full potential of all team members to do amazing, truly creative work that goes way beyond what anyone would believe possible.

    When it comes to team work, we often talk about the notion of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. But I don’t know that we always know what that means, and I sometime wonder if we’d get more leverage in having the goal being collaborations that produce work that is as great as the sum of its greatest parts (in that these collaborations bring out, and make the most of, the best in every single team member, including each team member’s knowledge, skills, and gifts). The thing is, I think very few people have figured out how to really do this well (I know I haven’t!).

    So, my wild idea? Well, if DU were to decide we really wanted to focus on this, I could imagine that we engage the entire DU community in an inquiry project of sorts around a question such as, “How can we collaborate in ways that bring out, and make the most of, the greatest potential in every team member to make a contribution?” We’d start developing a shared vision of what amazing collaborations look like. We’d collect stories from people’s own experience (looking not only within the university but outside of the university as well). We’d research and try out different models for teamwork in ALL of our collaborations (IDEO’s Design Thinking is a favorite of mine, but I know there are others out there that we could explore). We’d share the challenges and successes in trying out these different models. We’d talk about the barriers to amazing collaboration and explore a wide range of ways to address them. And such a large-scale inquiry project would in-and-of-itself be a collaboration (an opportunity to begin trying out all of these ideas!).

    Imagine such a DU. In my mind there is no challenge we could not solve if we really figure out how to do this amazingly well.

  • Danny Brown

    I have an idea for a DU Forum:

    An online forum/message board is a place for anyone to come and post their opinions on any issue or area of discussion. An example of the format of the forum that I envision is something like this:

    Study Abroad
    -South America
    On-Campus Life
    -Student Organizations
    -Dorm Life/Dining Experience
    -Textbook Trade
    Off-Campus Life
    -Activities in Denver
    -Activities in the Mountains
    Social Issues
    -Identity issues (gender, sexuality, race, religion)
    -General Philosophy

    This is a very basic sketch of an outline. I envision a place for DU students ONLY (grads, undergrads) to come and use as a resource for being a student. I envision a non-anonymous forum in which students sign in with their DU ID (possible linked with PioneerWeb) for the sake of transparency and connection. I envision the DU forum as a place that cultivates the heartbeat of the campus and helps connect people that otherwise would never connect.

    Reply if you’re interested in meeting with me to pursue this idea.

  • Danny Brown

    I hope to see DU become a “pioneer” and national leader in gender inclusivity/equality and sexual assault awareness. These are two very important areas of social justice because gender identity is something that affects every single one of us by putting us into separate boxes of identity, and sexual assault is something that tears apart 2 or more people’s lives. Gender equality is bigger than women’s rights; it is bigger than women’s rights and men’s rights; it is the idea that humans can express themselves in any way without negative stigma and has equal rights/is treated equally, regardless of their body.

    There are a number of ways I see this happening:

    -Give more time and effort to educating on gender inclusivity and sexual assault awareness during Orientation Week. I have heard that the talk this year was about 5 minutes long. Orientation Week is what assimilates new students to the culture on campus, so this is vital to set the bar immediately. I have already reached out to CAPE and made it aware that I think this is important to change.

    -Change the Gender and Women’s Studies program name to Gender and Sexuality Studies: it gives the impression of gender inclusivity and more appropriately describes the area of study. This program has a pretty small place on campus right now, and in order for our campus to be a leader, it needs to be prominent. I think this more accurately describes the area of study and also would most likely bring more students in. I have already spoke to many people who have a say in this process were it to happen.

    -Change the Colorado Women’s College and make it gender inclusive (not limited to women). Again, this culminates a culture of gender inclusivity. Make part of the mission statement about striving for gender equality. Instead of only empowering women, strive for gender equality by empowering everyone together. I have not said much to anyone about this yet.

    -Change the Annual Women’s Conference and again, make it gender inclusive. Celebrate and learn about gender inclusivity and equality instead of focusing only on half the population. I have not said much to anyone about this yet.

    These are some ideas that I think shift the focus of gender equality from women’s rights to everyone’s rights. I see gender equality or feminism as only being successful if the entire population (men, women, and everyone else) buys in, and that is only possible if we make the realms of gender equality also into realms of gender inclusivity. We also need to increase awareness of sexual assault and make for a more supportive community because it hurts both the victim(s) and perpetrator(s) in terrible ways.

    I hope to be able to look back in 20 years and tell people how I helped morph DU into a national leader for gender equality/inclusiveness and sexual assault prevention/awareness. I think these 4 ideas could potentially help those two areas of social justice drastically.

  • Kristin Kemp

    DU is developing excellent projects and programs related to sustainability, but we are doing so with very limited resources (staff, funding, physical spaces, formalized avenues for curriculum integration, etc). Imagine what we could be doing if DU devoted substantially more resources into sustainability! We are well poised to be a national leader in campus sustainability.

  • Dean Saitta

    My idea would be realized with the occupation of this location on the worldwide web:

    It’s about creating an “Institute for Critical Urbanism” that can simultaneously reshape knowledge, enrich student learning, and better connect DU not just to Denver but well beyond; in other words, it would be potentially “transformative” across all of these categories. It might even de-siloize and better integrate academic knowledge in the bargain.

    Building and better supporting the diverse array of partnerships that already exist between DU’s academic units and Denver community organizations is a worthwhile goal. I agree with those who argue that we could probably do these partnerships better. But enhancing community partnerships is just one prong of attack. We might also make DU into an institution to which the community—and even the world—will be drawn for expertise and advice around the great urban challenges of our time. These challenges are not owned by any single discipline: poverty, housing, homelessness, income inequality, governance, education, policing, transportation, gentrification, integration of immigrants and refugees, environmental degradation, sustainability (not just of campus, but of entire urban regions), urban-rural relationships (the deterioration of which in Colorado prompted secession talk in northeastern counties a couple of years ago), and others. Institutes and Centers are the best organizational structures for tackling such challenges and drawing community interest.

    It is well known that Denver is a magnet for Millennials and other “cultural creatives.” It is well known that Denver is an award-winning incubator of “New Urbanist” approaches to city planning and design. It is well known that Denver ranks high nationally on multiple measures of urban “livability.” Thus, Denver is already on the nation and world’s radar. The problem is that none of the challenges identified above have gone away even with the rankings, the awards, and the reputation. Some challenges are in fact deepening and many are disguised by the triumphalist story that Denver is increasingly telling about itself. I don’t see another regional institution that’s providing the intensive critical thought (the acronym “ICU” is chosen very intentionally) about Denver’s urbanism, nor city building globally, to creatively address the challenges identified above. Urban problems today are many and universal. The solutions developed here in the Rocky Mountain West would, in the main, be exportable.

    I think that DU has the faculty expertise, dispersed across multiple academic units, to make an Institute for Critical Urbanism work. The ICU would be one way of integrating such expertise. The ICU could very easily turn DU into the kind of vigorous incubator of critical and creative thought about cities that was once served, long ago and far away, by much better known institutions in Los Angeles and Chicago. The niche, both conceptual and geographical, is wide open. We might think about the 21st century—the “Metro Millennium”—as being DU’s time.

  • Dave

    We need more systematic involvement of our alumni and better recognition of their achievements. ‘USC’ was discussed as a school to emulate – well that is something they do extremely well.

  • Paul Kosempel

    I believe that DU can and should be much more intentional about connecting faculty from different disciplines. I was struck by the comment at the Provost Luncheon (by Shelly Smith-Acuña, I believe) about how faculty enjoyed having conversations with one another that involved ideas rather than policies. I believe this notion goes far beyond having a faculty club. A few ways we might achieve this:

    *Create interdisciplinary faculty learning/sharing groups where members meet quarterly to share insights about their research, their classrooms, and university life.

    *Strengthen our “onboarding” process for new faculty members in ways that go beyond their departmental responsibilities. Assign all new faculty members to one of the faculty learning groups for formal group mentoring opportunities or create other interdisciplinary mentoring opportunities.

    *Reward faculty members for truly interdisciplinary courses. Have faculty team teach classes where both faculty are in the classroom to share their perspectives (rather than trading off weeks).

  • Julie Chiron

    I’d like to add on to what Danny Brown said earlier: Change the Annual Women’s Conference and again, make it gender inclusive. Celebrate and learn about gender inclusivity and equality instead of focusing only on half the population. I have not said much to anyone about this yet.

    It strikes me that Women’s conferences reinforce the need for them. This year’s conference was an amazing array of sessions that should be available to everyone. How about changing the focus to developing leadership at DU – Leadership at Every Level – and invest in all staff. There can still be a place to talk about facts such as gender inequality in pay or tenure – but even that can be a discussion for all of us.

  • Erik Evans

    I continue to see a broad failure to connect with the largest, wealthiest and second most important stakeholder base of the University: the students who have graduated.

    Like a number of public universities where it’s catch-and-release fishing. There is an interest while tuition is paid with noble platitudes of the university family continuing throughout their lives, but once graduated, alumni are identified as in a primarily unilateral relationship–donor.

    This is encapsulated by the single reference to alumni in the entire strategic plan under the Student section:”Student Access and Support •Raise additional funds for undergraduate and graduate student aid and consider approaching donors of currently restricted funds to remove restrictions for more flexibility.”

    The University needs to examine the alumni organizations of top universities, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the extensive resources available to and directed towards…alumni. It’s a lot easier to get alumni to done $5,000 if they are deriving $1,000 of value being directed towards local alumni chapter events, access to online academic research subscriptions that are outside the price range of most alumni to foot individually (like Bloomberg, Nature, Science, etc.), so they can read faculty papers and stay abreast of academic research.

    Alumni need to be viewed as more than a donor and potential funding source for students and faculty. They are a dynamic and valuable network that if cultivated and nourished, will be a much more fertile source of funding, branding, and career placement options over time.

    • Ed Rowe

      Hi, Erik,

      Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right that we need to engage our alumni in ways beyond just fundraising. This month, DU welcomes a new Vice Chancellor for University Advancement, Armin Afsahi. He brings with him impressive experience at engaging alumni, and he can certainly help us to build on our existing programming.

      I just want to point out that what is on the site for “Engaging Community” is not a long-term plan. These are shorter-term measures that will help us address our most immediate needs. This fall, we’ll post a draft of the longer-term plan, and I expect you will see much more in that plan about the types of things you are talking about. We have heard from many, many members of our community (on campus and off) about the opportunities for alumni mentoring for our students, stronger networking opportunities for alumni, life-long learning for alumni, etc. So you are definitely on to something that we are all focused on exploring!

      Ed Rowe
      Director for Projects & Planning
      Office of the Chancellor

  • Philip Varley FCA, CPA, MBA

    Imagine a University which broke free from convention when it came to welcoming visitors without fearing for a parking ticket. Imagine a University where visitors, guests, event attendees, future students, could walk among the wonderful surroundings of campus, savor a dinner at the culinary arts school, be transported by a performance at the Newman Center, and not worry that they have a $60 fine waiting for them because they stayed much longer than they anticipated. Imagine a University which welcomed the outside community, by saying “please come here at night, at weekends, enjoy the campus, enjoy the facilities, sign up for a class, tell your friends and neighbors, and maybe even remember us in your will. We want you here, please use our acres of unused parking.”

    I have never understood the need for any parking restrictions whatsoever after 5pm on weekdays, or at any time on weekends. However, I have met with parking Nazis waiting by my car 2 minutes before my paid time was up, acting disappointed that I showed up in time, I have encountered failed barriers in “specified lots” for events, and long lines to get out of a specified lot because everyone leaves the event at the same time. As an example of lost revenues by having parking restrictions, I chose to locate a monthly dinner meeting of a professional group which had considered the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management elsewhere, at a location with free parking, because my experiences have been duplicated by almost everyone in this town who has ever visited the university on a dark night, seen an empty “restricted lot” (think Lot 304 just north of Newman), parked there, and returned to an expensive ticket.

    I also wonder how many potential students are lost because out of town visitors come in on a Sunday, don’t read the signs, or choose to gamble that restrictions won’t be enforced, because, heavens, it’s a Sunday and even the car-hating city of Denver still allows free street parking on the Lord’s day. When I took my daughter on her campus tours five years ago, we crossed off Vanderbilt because there was no available on-campus parking, and we had to park nearly a mile away in a very grungy part of town. So don’t for one moment believe that making parking difficult has no effect on people’s perceptions.

    If DU could do just one thing to make itself unique, welcoming, and part of more people’s lives, it would be to let us park wherever we want, provided it’s evenings and weekends.

    • Ed Calmus

      I couldn’t agree with Phillip more. One of the major issues for retirees is the parking situation. Everyone says they would like to have retirees stay more involved and connected to campus, but then we make it very difficult to do so. Even if you are willing to pay $8/day for visitor parking, it is often very difficult to find a space. I have personally driven between three visitor parking areas before finding a spot. The DU Retiree board does not even meet on campus because of parking hassles. The current University policy of no free parking anytime to anyone hurts our image, makes the campus a less welcoming place, and is detrimental to developing a sense of community on campus.