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Staff Council answers call for feedback on Speaker of the House’s proposal

After compiling comments from University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC) and individual campus council members, UCSC council chair Ryan Untisz late last month delivered the feedback to Colorado Speaker of the House KC Becker, who is considering legislation that would change the way members of the university’s Board of Regents are elected.

Untisz reviewed the comments he provided to Becker with UCSC members during their March 19 meeting.

Becker had requested the feedback so that she could determine how the potential legislation would affect university staff members. The draft bill would establish an advisory council to recommend candidates for open regent seats. A joint legislative committee would then review the council’s recommendations and select two candidates for each vacancy. The General Assembly would then elect one candidate to hold the seat on the board.

Currently, regents are elected by voters.

Untisz said the comments he sent to Becker include:

  • Concerns that the legislation might change the relationship that had been built between UCSC and the regents.
  • A suggestion that language be added to the legislation that would prohibit consideration of political affiliation.

Given that initial discussion of the bill took place before the COVID-19 crisis, it is unclear if it will remain an issue, particularly with the Legislature’s altered schedule.

In other business, the council agreed that future meetings would be conducted via video to comply with social distancing as prescribed by the university and state officials.

Members also discussed the rescheduled Professional Development Day and Recognition Lunch. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been moved to Sept. 25, instead of the original April date. One of the highlights of the event is recognizing recipients of Staff Excellence Awards. Nominations already received will be scored using a rubric developed by UCSC; council members also discussed whether it would be appropriate to accept more nominations prior to the event.

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Stay-at-home orders in effect for Boulder, Denver, Aurora areas

UPDATE: Gov. Jared Polis late Wednesday issued a stay-at-home order for the state through April 11.

Members of the CU community continue to respond to and manage impacts of COVID-19, or coronavirus, on the university’s mission.

Stay-at-home orders took effect earlier this week in Denver and Boulder, with Adams County, where the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is located, expected to join today. As of Wednesday, the Colorado Springs area had not issued similar measures.

As of Monday, CU Boulder reported a student residency capacity of 37 percent. Examples of reasons students need to stay include financial hardship, medical concerns, international travel restrictions. In total the campus expect 2,062 students and residents who will continue to need support from the campus though the end of the semester. As of Sunday evening, UCCS had 1,093 of the 1,384 students checked out of housing. 

Mental health and medical resources remain available for students, faculty and staff across the system. Details on access to these resources and other updated information may be found at these campus-specific websites:

For the most up-to-date, campus-specific information, please refer to these resources:

The state of Colorado maintains its COVID-19 information hub here: https://covid19.colorado.gov/

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President Kennedy announces delays, pauses for key initiatives

The ripple effects from COVID-19 are causing delays in some of the major systemwide initiatives that have been underway for several months at CU, including the strategic plan, technology enablement project and online learning initiative.

In communications on Wednesday to the teams working on those efforts and to shared governance groups, CU President Mark Kennedy and Board of Regents Chairman Glen Gallegos wrote that while the projects will be delayed, the need for them is amplified by the current crisis.

“One necessary outcome of our all-hands-on-deck response is that we must pause action on other priorities, including the tech enablement and online projects (and the related strategic planning process),” Kennedy and Gallegos wrote. “Still, the current environment highlights the urgency for more robust IT functionality and a coherent plan for our online efforts. Despite their mission-critical importance, we are taking a short break on the initiatives to allow everyone to focus attention on COVID-19 issues. We are also slowing down the strategic planning process, which overlaps with IT and online.”

The strategic planning process began last summer and a draft plan was scheduled to go to the Board of Regents at its July retreat. That has now been pushed to September to give teams working on the project more time, given the demands required by the COVID response.

The technology enablement project, which started in the fall, aims to assess CU’s major technology platforms and make recommendations for optimizing performance and personnel. The university has partnered with Deloitte on the assessment. It will have a slight delay, as will the online learning strategy project, which looks to optimize CU’s systemwide online offerings. The university is partnering with EY-Parthenon on the initiative.

The president is engaging the campus chancellors and project leaders about revised timelines for technology enablement and online. Kennedy and Gallegos noted that “considerable and valuable” work has been accomplished on each of the three initiatives, and that their interconnected nature means it is incumbent upon CU to continue momentum.

To do so, the communique noted that in mid-April, Harper Johnson, assistant vice chancellor of information technology and CIO at UCCS, will begin serving as associate vice president for transformation and innovation for the system to coordinate efforts at IT transformation. He will continue to provide strategic leadership support to UCCS in a reduced role. Johnson also will temporarily take the lead on advancing conversations on a more coordinated approach to online until the university hires someone to lead coordinated online activities.

The communication also noted conversations between the president and chancellors regarding providing additional support to faculty who have had to quickly prepare their courses for remote delivery, as well as for staff who are working remotely. The support may be necessary if the disruption continues into the fall.

Kennedy and Gallegos also noted that while CU has to address the crisis at hand, it must also keep an eye on the long term and the exigencies that come with such a crisis.

“Soon our mission and attention must expand to the short- and long-term future of the university and how we successful navigate the disruption caused by COVID-19.”

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Staff Council moves professional development event to fall

Because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, the University of Colorado Staff Council’s (UCSC) Professional Development Day and Recognition Lunch, originally set for April, has been postponed until later in the year.

The annual event, which honors university staff members who have “gone above and beyond their job duties and who have surpassed expectations,” has been rescheduled for Sept. 25.

“Like many who have had their plans upended by the current pandemic, we struggled with this decision, but felt it was the most responsible course of action given the circumstances,” said UCSC Chair Ryan Untisz. “Staff Council is ready to do our part in keeping staff and the community safe.”