CU Denver Chancellor Don Elliman talks to students at Green Mountain High School

Chancellor Don Elliman told an audience of high school students that his wish for them is to find a career so invigorating that they wake up each day looking forward to going to work.

“That’s been my privilege and it’s something that I hope for you,” he told about 75 Green Mountain High School students this morning.

Elliman was the featured speaker in the school’s weekly “Meet the Pros” program. CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus representatives from the physicians assistant, physics and music industry departments will speak in the coming weeks at Green Mountain.

Raul Cardenas, PhD, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, said outreach events such as at Green Mountain help the community become better acquainted with the university. “First, any time I think we can get out and have an audience with schools — whether faculty and staff or students — it just helps build our brand and our image. Secondly, it’s a good thing for them to know we’re accessible. Having a chancellor come to a school, you don’t see that very often.”

Elliman gave an overview of his eclectic career at Time Warner — where he ascended from trainee to publisher and president, respectively, of People and Sports Illustrated magazines — and his move into leadership roles at Ascent Sports, the Colorado Economic Development Commission, the Children’s Hospital Colorado Board of Directors and now university chancellor.

He told the students that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 60 percent of them will work at some point in a career that has yet to be invented.

“Unlike my era where people could expect to start in one career and stay in that career for their whole life, that’s not the world you’re going into,” Elliman said. “I think that’s good news for you, by the way. If I had one piece of advice for anybody as you start thinking about what you want to do with your life try and pick a field that you’re passionate about. Try and pick a field that has change embedded in it, because change is fun.”

He said he’s had more than his fair share of learning curves, but they’ve all energized him. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with really good people, and every challenge has been so different from the one I left before it, it just re-amps your energy level to a new high.”

Education is the critical component to prospering in these fast-changing times, he said. While programs geared toward specific jobs have value, the key is to get a well-rounded education. For example, Elliman said, more than half the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies earned an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts.

“It’s the ability to learn how to think critically, how to write and how to communicate — those are the basic skills that you’re going to be trading on for the rest of your life,” he said.

The students asked questions about what a chancellor does and what academic programs are offered at CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus.

Elliman pointed out that the university’s urban campuses offer unique experiential learning opportunities not commonly available elsewhere. “You have an amazing opportunity in front of you,” he said. “If we can help in any we we’d be more than happy to do that.”

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