University leaders expect more gains in enrollment, research and new facilities in 2012

As we welcome a new year, all signs point to increased momentum for the robust educational and economic engine that is the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus.

Milestones in the making for the coming year include:

  • Opening of the new state-of-the-art building for the Business School at 1475 Lawrence St.
  • Continued expansion at the Anschutz Medical Campus, including the spring opening of the Colorado Center for Health and Wellness. The center, expected to earn a LEED Gold certification for green building, will serve both the public and the university community. With state-of-the-art fitness facilities, weight management and nutrition services and research labs, it is expected to set the standard for health promotion and disease prevention throughout Colorado, the nation and the world.
  • Updating the Campus Master Plan as required by the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
  • Early construction on the new Veterans Affairs Hospital next to the Anschutz Medical Campus. The $800 million project is expected to be completed in 2015.
  • Strategic enrollment management, focused on continued growth in enrollment of international students and veteran students as well as the development of a Transition Center for transfer and non-traditional students.

“With the tremendous collective effort of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and other supporters, the university is on pace to achieve our vision of being a leading public university with a global reputation for excellence,” said University of Colorado Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow.

The Strategic Enrollment Management Committee, chaired by Provost Rod Nairn and made up of deans of all of the university’s schools and colleges as well as Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Raul Cardenas, last fall began focused, strategic planning. The goal of the committee is to develop strategies for student recruitment and retention, as well as engagement with the broader campus community, Cardenas said.

“We want to get a good handle on where we are, from branding to international school enrollment to graduate school enrollment,” he said. On the retention side, the committee is working toward launch of a Transition Center which will serve as a resource center for transfer and non-traditional students.

“It will serve those students across the board,” Cardenas said. “We’re also looking at additional recruiters, processing staff — things that we can do today that will impact our fall 2012 class. These are short-term and long-term strategies all kind of happening at once.”

The recent creation of the Office of Veteran Students as well as stepped-up veteran recruitment is an example of the university’s commitment to help ease the transition of veterans from the military to college, according to Veteran Student Services Manager Cameron Cook. In 2009, CU Denver had 315 returning veterans; there were 501 in 2010; and 649 in 2011. The campus, which has been named a Military Friendly School for two years running, expects to enroll 1,947 veterans by 2014.

In 2011, the university enrolled 1,040 international students from 85 countries, a 23 percent increase from 2010.

On the health care front, in order to meet projected physician workforce shortages, there’s a push nationally to increase by 30 percent the number of medical school graduates, according to Lilly Marks, executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus and vice president for health affairs for the CU System.

In the past decade, the university has seen a 65 percent increase in degree-seeking students throughout the health profession schools. Anschutz Medical Campus is prepared to meet the continued need for health care professionals by adding 1.3 million square feet in the next four years to reach 8.4 million total square feet on campus.

A new master plan for the Anschutz Medical Campus will focus on campus goals and objectives, updating the education, research and clinical models for the medium and long term, reviewing space utilization and identifying needs, and facility and land-use planning.

The School of Dental Medicine welcomes the new year with an additional story in its building. The expansion project is designed to build more clinics and will add 66 dental chairs, bringing the total to 236, to accommodate additional patient care for the Colorado communities we serve and support educational opportunities for a larger student base. This will also allow the addition of 25 students per class.

Also, the University of Colorado Hospital was recently selected by the Memorial System Task Force as the leading bid to operate Colorado Springs’ Memorial Hospital. The Colorado Springs City Council will formally receive the recommendation on Jan. 9.

All of the initiatives are focused on building a healthcare system that positions our university and its graduates for the challenges of health care reform, Marks said.

She notes that the “next frontier” is the discoveries emerging from the campus’s research labs. Anschutz Medical Campus is working to become a leader in translating research into new drugs, devices and businesses. Just last year, the campus filed 123 patents, resulting in three startup companies; the average for the campus is five to seven startups a year.

“There’s a lot coming out of this campus and the research that’s done here,” Marks said. “We’ve just begun to recognize that potential.”

Meanwhile, the footprint of CU Denver will expand into downtown with the opening of the new Business School building on Lawrence Street. A Feb. 3 ribbon cutting event will invite community leaders to get a look at the second-floor classrooms which open to students with the start of spring semester on Jan. 17. The full opening of the new building, which will feature study areas, a cafe and classrooms with cutting-edge technology, is slated for August 2012.

The new building will serve as a hub for all aspects of business education for students, faculty and community business partners. It will include a Center for Commodities — a first-of-its-kind facility that will provide students with real-life education on commodity markets, regulation, trading financial fundamentals, investing and risk management.

Business School Dean Sueann Ambron summed up the aspirations of the Business School, which parallel the lofty and optimistic goals of the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus heading into 2012:

“I look at what Stanford University did for Silicon Valley,” Ambron said. “There’s no reason this business school can’t be every bit as productive for the city of Denver and the metropolitan area.”

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