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Staff Council discusses strategic planning process, LinkedIn Learning

The status of President Mark Kennedy’s strategic plan and the implementation of LinkedIn Learning were discussion highlights of the first official meeting of the academic year of the University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC) on Sept. 19 at CU Denver.

Angelique Foster, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives, provided an overview of the President’s Strategic Plan process, which is currently in the first of four phases of development. During the past several weeks, the draft plan, titled “Leaning Into the Future,” has been shared with governance groups, including the CU Board of Regents.

The plan intends to align system administration, the four campuses and the regents as the university faces upcoming challenges, especially uncertain funding from the state and technological changes. The plan, now in the listening phase, contains three focus areas: affordably educate, which includes issues such as graduation and retention rates, diversity, and academic innovation; discovery and impact, which looks at creative work and health care; and fiscal strength, which encompasses technology, infrastructure and collaboration.

Foster said working groups, which will include university staff members, will be formed during the first week of October to help determine the scope of the focus areas and begin to define specific, measurable objectives.

UCSC members provided feedback on the draft plan, which they said is heavily focused on finances and doesn’t address diversity and inclusion except in the education area.

Foster said feedback from meetings with governance groups currently is being reviewed. She noted that the strategic focus areas are overarching and that working groups will be tasked with identifying long-term outcomes of the plan.

In the coming weeks, Foster said, campus assemblies will be scheduled to engage other stakeholders and gather feedback on the plan as it moves forward in the process.  

Council also heard about the implementation of an upgrade to LinkedIn Learning (LIL), formerly Annie Melzer, project coordinator, Employee Learning and Development, said the free learning environment will be available in late September to university faculty, staff and students. It features more than 14,000 courses, led by expert instructors and teaching skills that help with career development.

Melzer’s presentation noted that the “shelf life of many skills is now less than five years. And roughly 35 percent of core job skills will change by 2020.”

LinkedIn Learning can be connected to a LinkedIn account, enabling the two sites to “communicate” so that learning recommendations can be provided to the user based on individual learning paths or previously viewed content.

In other business at last week’s meeting, council:

  • Discussed pathways that would allow UCSC to have a more defined role in administrative candidate searches, specifically a presidential search. Under the current process, staff member names are submitted to the members of the Board of Regents leading the search, but there is no guarantee that a person on the submitted list will be assigned to the search committee. In contrast, in a vice presidential search, a staff representative must be selected from a submitted list of names.
  • Learned that administration officials are continuing to look toward a solution for discrepancies in the tuition benefit across the campuses.
  • Will begin updating the UCSC website, which will highlight meetings, events and staff resources.

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Five questions for Ryan Untisz

Ryan Untisz and friend Clyde.

Ryan Untisz and friend Clyde.

As a recruiter for the university, Ryan Untisz had to learn about CU and the programs it offers to attract the best talent for staff and classified positions. This role provides him with a keen insight that enables him to advocate for those same employees as vice chair of the CU Denver l Anschutz Staff Council and as chair of the University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC).

Untisz joined human resources at CU Denver and CU Anschutz in 2014; in 2016, he accepted a role at the CU Anschutz College of Nursing, where he said he worked with “incredible faculty and staff” for two years.

“As I was finishing up grad school, I decided to return to a recruitment and talent acquisition role, so I came back to campus HR, working at the Lawrence Street Center downtown,” he said. “I get to talk a lot about the great things CU is doing in order to attract great candidates and encourage people to apply to our open positions.”

Outside of work, he spends time with his brother, nephew, partner, and his family to recharge his batteries. He learned to snowboard six years ago, and now the sport is his favorite winter activity. In the warmer months, he heads to some favorite hiking trails, such as Chautauqua in Boulder and Devil’s Thumb near Eldora, and he plans to tackle some 14ers. He also is a DJ and has played in venues in Denver, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, San Francisco and Nevada.

1. How long have you been involved with both the Denver l Anschutz Staff Council and the University of Colorado Staff Council? What prompted you to get involved?

Five questions for Ryan Untisz

I started with the campus staff council in the beginning of 2017, and so am now in the third year of my first three-year term. I don’t think I had any specific activity that I wanted to engage in; I wanted to do more for CU beyond my day-to-day work. I wanted to take on something extra and support the campus and the institution in a new way.

During my first year on the campus council, I was placed on the Policy and Legislation Committee. It was great to dig in a little bit on how the campus and the institution structured policy at all levels and determine where staff council had the ability to chime in and make our voices heard on certain levels of policy and where we could represent the voices of staff more broadly.

This is my first year with UCSC. Initially, I was filling a vacancy, but when we got into the final portion of the CU president search, I was asked to be more involved in the interview process where UCSC representatives were able to spend time interviewing Mark Kennedy. During that time, I was able to work closely with my predecessor, Nancy Moore, and other members of staff council and was nominated by one of my colleagues to run for chair and I agreed. And here I am.

One reason I accepted the nomination was because we started to do some incredible things at the campus level. I used this as an opportunity to shift my focus to do potentially great things for staff across all four campuses and bring to the council some of my human resources perspective, which gives you a global view of what some of the organizational challenges are in an institution like CU, and use that to balance those challenges with the needs of staff.

2. What are your goals as chair of UCSC for both the organization and your constituents?

Five questions for Ryan Untisz

I was lucky to come into a group of highly engaged and thoughtful staff members who really care about staff and the university. For council, I want to bring in some potential efficiencies in technology and new processes. We’ve asked for administrative help, which is something Faculty Council has, because what we do is volunteer work and having additional help with administrative tasks will lighten the burden for council members.

I also want to improve how UCSC interacts with the campus councils. It sometimes feels as if each group works on its own. The campus councils have built relationships with their chancellor, their provost and campus leadership team. Certain areas, like the tuition benefit and pay equity, might require more of a systemwide push and I’m looking to UCSC to try to move the needle a little bit more than the individual campuses have been able to.

We want to continue to work toward improvements in the tuition benefit. At our retreat in August, we also started a conversation about improving the way staff is represented on presidential vacancy search committees in the wake of the Mark Kennedy search. It left staff feeling a bit underrepresented or disenfranchised. In the presidential search, staff submits a list of potential representatives and the Board of Regents can choose a representative from the list or pick someone else that staff did not recommend. We want to be able to choose the person who will best represent staff concerns.

Another goal is to collect some information about retention among staff at CU and use that to make recommendations to administration on ways to better retain staff. We want to figure out what the turnover looks like and why staff are leaving.

3. Council has been working toward equity for staff in a variety of areas for many years. How will you work to achieve some of your objectives?

I think there is an appetite across all levels and at all campuses to make progress in equity among staff, and even between staff and faculty where it makes sense. My predecessor, Nancy Moore, did a wonderful job building partnerships and getting these topics front-of-mind for many in leadership at CU. I am looking forward to continuing our partnership with Faculty Council to engage in joint advocacy in areas that impact both faculty and staff. Equity in the tuition benefit, and total compensation and pay fit into that category. We also want to hear from staff and constituents from all four campuses, because often some of the best ideas start with information that gets shared with us.

One of the approaches I’m trying with tuition benefit is to work with leadership to find some solutions, even if that means we have to look at a trade-off, for instance giving up an underutilized benefit to make improvements to the tuition benefit. I’m looking at a more diplomatic approach, rather than passing resolutions detailing what is broken.

4. What would you consider some of your best achievements in your work with governance organizations or the university?

In my second year on the CU Denver l Anschutz Staff Council, we invited every candidate running for the Board of Regents to speak to community members on both campuses. This was a highlight of my time on the council because I got to see just what impact council could have. The committee I chaired was able to set up two events where candidates came to share their thoughts with constituents that weren’t necessarily in their voting districts. The candidates wanted to hear from people they aspired to lead and learn about the challenges facing faculty, staff and students. For those who weren’t able to attend, we recorded the events and put them on the web so they could watch later. 

5. Are you involved with other university entities?

I’m a CU Denver alumni, and as of this year, I am a CU Advocate. I joined because I think it is important to people to advocate at the grassroots level for policies that advance higher education and change the narrative around what higher education is doing in our state. Our elected officials and community members can benefit from hearing from CU Advocates about what we’re doing and what we’re doing well.

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Webinar: CU Boulder Admissions information for high school seniors

Are you a faculty or staff member who works within the CU system AND has a student in their senior year of high school? If so, we have a series of events you may be interested in!

Boulder Faculty Assembly, Boulder Staff Council and the Office of Admissions are pleased to bring you a series of events to help your high school senior (and you) learn the ropes when it comes to applying to CU Boulder, accessing scholarship information, financial aid resources, tuition benefit options and welcoming you to the Buff community.

Our first partner event is happening on Monday, October 14th starting at 6 p.m. This virtual webinar event will include a short welcome from a Boulder Faculty Assembly representative, a Boulder Staff Council representative and an Admissions staff member. Following this welcome, Admissions staff will walk through the Common Application and answer any questions you or your student may have, when it comes to applying to CU Boulder. We want to make sure your student is prepared, and ready to submit the Common Application, on Tuesday, October 15th for the Colorado Free Application Day.

To register for this event, and receive the virtual, webinar log-in instructions, please click here to register. Complete the registration using your student’s information. There is a place in the registration to include your email address so that you receive a copy of the instructions.

Also mark your calendars for our other upcoming events:

Thursday, January 16, 2020 – Financial Aid, Scholarship and Tuition Benefit Night (on the CU Boulder campus)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 – Welcome Night at CU Boulder for students (and their family members) who have been admitted to CU Boulder

Please note that all of these events are for high school seniors who have a parent/legal guardian who work within the CU system.

Questions? Please email Katie Holdgreve-Resendez, Associate Director of Admissions at CU Boulder, at

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Regents’ program prioritization measures make campus-level impact

Program prioritization measures in place for the past five years continue to help steer decisions about academic programs at CU campuses.

The Board of Regents heard updates on academic program prioritization from campus representatives during the board’s Sept. 12 meeting at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. The board first requested such metrics in 2013, and began hearing reports from the campuses in 2014.

“The mandate from the board five years ago … has proved extremely useful to our campus,” said Katherine Eggert, CU Boulder’s senior vice provost for academic planning and assessment.

At CU Boulder, administrators measure resource efficiency, degree production, effectiveness of undergraduate teaching, and scholarly accomplishments in determining how academic programs are delivering on the campus mission. Such comparisons help leadership make decisions about space, faculty and other investments.

In slides presented to the board, groupings show many programs – including aerospace, business, computer science and civil engineering – ranked as highly effective. A bottom tier labeled “less than effective” consisted of comparative literature, which was discontinued in 2017, and ATLAS. The latter recently began a new undergraduate degree and minor.

Ann Schmiesing, senior vice provost for academic resource management, said the new ATLAS major is proving wildly successful, with enrollment 30 percent higher than projected. A new undergraduate degree in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and revised undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Cinema Studies also are showing dividends.

Leadership at CU Denver also reported making progress via use of program prioritization metrics. Jennifer Sobanet, CU Denver CFO and senior vice chancellor for administration and finance, said the campus’s adoption of a new incentive-based budget model in the 2017-18 fiscal year helps with program prioritization by incentivizing colleges to grow their revenue streams.

President Mark Kennedy, who had experience with such a budget strategy in the past, said he applauds the efforts. “You really don’t see the fruits of it until the third (budget) year,” he said. “It does make the institution far more entrepreneurial.”

Leadership at UCCS, which also presented on academic prioritization, indicated that their campus soon will follow CU Denver in that incentive-based budget strategy. Kennedy said the model helps bring financial decision-making to deans and department leadership, “so they’ve got skin in the game.”

Because external accreditation dictates much of the scope of programs at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, it was exempted from the academic program prioritization focus in place at the other campuses. Provost Rod Nairn reviewed for the board how programs are examined.

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Strategic planning process advances as regents explore details

President Mark Kennedy presents the strategic planning process at Friday's Board of Regents meeting at CU Anschutz.

Cathy Beuten/University of Colorado
President Mark Kennedy presents the strategic planning process at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting at CU Anschutz.

Members of the Board of Regents have taken their first extensive look at President Mark Kennedy’s strategic planning process, gathering in groups with university leadership to continue discussions that are informing the effort.

Regent Heidi Ganahl summarizes discussion points during a roundtable session engaging regents, President Mark Kennedy and other CU leaders.

Cathy Beuten/University of Colorado
Regent Heidi Ganahl summarizes discussion points during a roundtable session engaging regents, President Mark Kennedy and other CU leaders.

The roundtable conversations were part of the board’s meeting Friday at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, where Kennedy led an introduction to the proposed undertaking that aims to culminate in a completed systemwide strategic plan next summer.

“If we have all elements of our system governance working together … we will accomplish so much more,” Kennedy said.

The strategic plan will create a roadmap that focuses the university’s strategic priorities over the next five years and beyond. It will not replicate or replace campus-level strategic plans.

The current framework consists of three strategic pillars: Affordably Educate, Discovery and Impact, and Fiscal Strength. Those three themes are tied to nine focus areas. Academics are emphasized, as Kennedy has pointed to the world’s digital evolution.

“Digital natives will increasingly resist taking classes at the same time, at the same place, and learning at the same pace,” Kennedy said. “Those universities that do not adjust to this coming reality will be ‘once upon a time.’”

Kennedy in recent weeks has been sharing a similar presentation with governance groups, including the Faculty Council. Pre-planning, listening and preparation for the effort have been underway since early July, when Kennedy assumed his position as CU president.

The planning process has several objectives that emerged from the Board of Regents summer retreat: to address the challenges of the future; to be collaborative, with input from across the university community; to be data-driven; and to be actionable and implementable.

A strategic plan for the CU system is needed to align regents, system administration and the campuses, Kennedy said. At Friday’s meeting, he was joined in his presentation by the two co-chairs of the strategic planning process: Sharon Matusik, dean of the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder, and Todd Saliman, system vice president for finance and chief financial officer.

The process will move into its second phase early next month, when the strategic planning committee will meet for the first time to begin work on each of the focus areas. The Board of Regents will provide feedback and potentially approve these plans in November. Final approval of the full strategic plan is proposed for the board’s July 2020 retreat, with implementation beginning that fall.

In other business at last week’s Board of Regents meeting, which ran Sept. 12-13 at CU Anschutz:

  • The board approved one appointment with tenure at CU Boulder: Joost de Gouw, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, effective Sept. 13, 2019.
  • Livestreaming board meetings remains a goal. Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, university counsel and secretary of the board, said board staff is investigating the best ways of going about livestreaming meetings. He plans to return with a detailed proposal in November, when the cost of such a venture would be determined.
  • The board approved a new Bachelor of Innovation degree in digital media at UCCS. Read more in Communique.
  • More women, first-generation scholars and students of color are pursuing their academic and career goals at CU Boulder this fall, according to preliminary 2019 fall enrollment data shared with the board. Read more in CU Boulder Today.

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Give yourself a shot at avoiding the flu

The least wonderful time of year is here: Flu season.

OK, OK, there’s a lot to love about the fall. You can delight in seeing the turning leaves, but to truly enjoy the view, you’ll want to avoid being part of the population that contracts the flu virus. Give yourself a shot at good health by attending a flu shot clinic on a University of Colorado campus in October.

Flu shots are free for CU Health Plan primary members and their spouses. Non-CU Health Plan members will be charged $26 for a shot. Other insurance carriers may be accepted.

Note: Clinics are not open to CU students at this time.

If you’re a CU Health Plan member and can’t make it to a clinic, don’t worry. You’re eligible for a free shot at your doctor’s office or pharmacy. If you carry health insurance but it’s not accepted at our clinic, you may be able to receive a free shot at your doctor’s office.

Find a clinic on your campus.

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Regent Shoemaker won’t run for reelection

Regent Linda Shoemaker

Regent Linda Shoemaker

Regent Linda Shoemaker, a Boulder Democrat representing Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, today announced she will not seek reelection to the board in 2020.

Shoemaker also endorsed Callie Rennison for her seat on the Board of Regents. Rennison, a Superior resident, is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver.

Shomaker’s statement:

“For the past 25 years, I have volunteered my time to public education. Now, I’m ready to spend more time with my husband and six grandchildren.

“I urge my supporters to back Callie Rennison, Ph.D., for the CD-2 seat on the Board of Regents that was previously held by Congressman Joe Neguse. Callie was the first person in her family to earn a college degree. The experience of working her way through school and teaching at CU’s most diverse campus means that Callie will be a forceful advocate for affordability and accessibility, which have been my top two issues on the board.

“Callie is a nationally known criminologist whose research concentrates on violence against women. In addition to teaching and research, Callie has served as associate dean in the School of Public Affairs and director of equity for both the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical campuses. Callie’s most recent book is ‘Women Leading Change in Academia.’

“When Joe Neguse decided to step down from the CD-2 board seat, he said that he made the decision to support me because I was someone who would ‘speak truth to power.’ I believe I have done that on the Board of Regents and that Callie will continue that honorable tradition.”

Shoemaker’s decision means the nine-seat board is guaranteed three new members after next year’s election. Regent Irene Griego, D-Jefferson County, representing District 7, and Regent John Carson, R-Highlands Ranch, representing District 6, also have announced they won’t run in 2020.

Democrat Ilana Spiegel is running in District 6, while no candidates have yet announced in District 7.

In District 2, Rennison and Dave Gross, a senior instructor in the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder, have announced their candidacies. Both are Democrats.

District 2 consists of much of the northwestern metro area and Front Range, including Boulder, Northglenn, Thornton, Westminster, Loveland and Fort Collins. It also includes the mountain towns of Vail, Grand Lake and Idaho Springs. The district’s congressional representative is Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat and former member of the Board of Regents.

Shoemaker served on the Boulder Valley School Board from 1995-2000. She was president for the final two years of that service. She then served on the board of directors for Impact on Education, helping raise money for the school district and on the University of Colorado Foundation board of trustees, helping raise money for CU.  She was elected to the Board of Regents in 2014.

In 1969, Shoemaker earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the CU Boulder campus where she remembers participating in numerous protest marches and sit-ins during the Vietnam War. She later earned a law degree from the University of Denver and represented small business clients in Denver and Boulder. She currently is president of the Brett Family Foundation, which her husband, Steve Brett, and she founded in 2000. The foundation funds Colorado organizations that foster social justice, equal rights and opportunity for all. She was the founding board chair of the Bell Policy Center, which works to advance economic mobility in Colorado through research and advocacy.

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Upcoming events showcase advantages of working for CU

Upcoming events showcase advantages of working for CU

The Employee Services Expo is coming to University of Colorado campuses Oct. 7-22. These events are an opportunity to take a break from work, grab a cup of coffee, and learn about CU’s exclusive perks, discounts and benefits for faculty and staff.

During the expo, visitors will play a quick scavenger hunt by visiting booths from Employee Services, Delta Dental, Anthem, campus organizations, TIAA, PERA, local credit unions and many others.

Some topics they’ll cover:

  • Which life events allow faculty and staff to change their benefits
  • Ways to save more money with voluntary retirement plans
  • How to use the Tuition Assistance Benefit to earn a degree
  • Details on CU’s medical, dental, disability insurance and life insurance
  • Dental plans offered to CU employees, the Delta Dental mobile application, how to use the member portal and find a participating dentist
  • How to participate in CU’s wellness programs, such as Move, Omada and Real Help Hotline
  • Details on training courses available at no cost to faculty and staff
  • Information about Human Resources services and programs
  • Financial information and free financial wellness tools
  • Information about recreation center programs, services, activities and facilities
  • A sneak peek of CU Advantage: Employee Services’ one-stop website for perks and discounts available to CU faculty and staff

At each booth they visit, visitors will collect a stamp on their scavenger hunt list. When they’re done learning about CU’s benefits and perks, they can submit their scavenger hunt checklist and enter into a drawing for one of five $100 prizes.

Join us on your campus 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on the following dates:

  • CU Colorado Springs: Monday, Oct. 7
  • CU Boulder main campus: Thursday, Oct. 10
  • CU system offices: Tuesday, Oct. 15
  • CU Denver: Wednesday, Oct. 16
  • CU Anschutz Medical Campus: Thursday, Oct. 17
  • CU Boulder east campus: Tuesday, Oct. 22

Register today.