Summer may be a sleepy time of quiet planning on many university campuses, but not at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
While we are indeed planning for the arrival of nearly 30,000 students, including 5,500 new freshmen, for the start of classes Aug. 24, the campus has been a busy place this summer, humming with activity and energy.
More than 7,500 students attended summer session, a 2 percent increase over last year, and we hosted many of those 5,500 new students and their families during nearly continuous orientation sessions.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is playing to sold-out performances and The Colorado Light Opera staged its finale Sunday after a summer of lighthearted musical theater.
We hosted 129 revenue-producing camps and conferences, ranging from the National Organic Chemistry Conference to the International Symposium of Thermal Physical Properties. There have been camps on leadership, technology and rock music. The CU Buff sports camps alone hosted 1,200 high school students. While the campers are here, they contribute to the local economy.
Meanwhile, we are working toward the debut this fall of our Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute in a partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden to develop and commercialize clean energy while providing students with unique educational opportunities.
And we’ve received $10.5 million in federal stimulus money for research in a dozen areas from diagnosis of learning disabilities to adolescent health to climate change — research efforts that will in turn stimulate the Colorado economy.
The recession may have slowed us, but it certainly has not stopped us from implementing our Flagship 2030 Strategic Plan. This plan was conceived in partnership with the people of Colorado centering on what they want from their flagship university in the 21st century.
We’re moving ahead with important Flagship 2030 initiatives on internationalization, interdisciplinary research and residential colleges.
We aim to increase international student enrollment by 50 percent to 1,800 students as we prepare our students for an increasingly global economy. This will diversify our student body and expose domestic students to a diversity of perspectives and cultures they will encounter in their careers.
You can already see interdisciplinary research at work in our biotechnology initiative in which researchers from many disciplines pool their expertise to make new bio-medical discoveries that have a direct impact on patient care.
Another Flagship 2030 initiative, residential colleges, allow upper and lower classmen to take specialized coursework right in their residence halls where their professor also lives and works. The second residential college (engineering honors) is opening this fall in Andrews Hall, with a third, in global studies, to follow.
While summer may be a time of pause and reflection for some, at CU we have much to do.
Philip DiStefano is chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.