On Nov. 28 and Nov. 30, UCCS held open student forums with each of the candidates for chancellor, Susan Elrod and Mahyar Amouzegar.
Students who attended the forums were provided the opportunity to fill out a survey asking them to evaluate each visiting candidate based on their answers to the questions asked during the event. Faculty and staff were also able to attend separate sessions and provide feedback.
A frequently updated timeline, information on the search process, information on each finalist and more can be found on the chancellor search website.
Nov. 28 Forum — Susan Elrod
After an introduction from student body president Axel Brown, Elrod discussed her background.
According to her discussion and CV, she is the chancellor at Indiana University South Bend. She has also served as a dean and provost at two universities in different states.
When asked about her philosophy on education, Elrod thinks everyone can learn together. “My philosophy about learning is that we construct knowledge together. To me, knowledge is constructed socially,” she said.
Elrod said that her priorities and values are in line with UCCS’ vision and mission, especially when it comes to putting students first and being inclusive of the Colorado Springs community. She hopes to greatly improve the quality of student education by gaining a better understanding of the complexity of students.
If selected, Elrod plans to gather student feedback by hosting lunches and events with students and by establishing a student advisory council that contains members of SGA and of the general student body.
In addition to increasing on-campus involvement, especially in athletics and the performing arts, Elrod wants to tackle student enrollment and retention.
Since she considers retention to be a big issue for UCCS, Elrod would always seek to answer the enrollment-focused question, “who are we losing and how do we keep them?”
Through her work with retention at IU South Bend, Elrod has found that trying to fully understand the university community allowed her leadership team to better allocate resources and build up strategies. This included revamping their financial aid system.
“We were giving out aid to students who weren’t coming back, so we figured out ‘well, if we stop doing that and give more aid to students who are coming back, they’re going to come back more,’ so there was a lot of strategy in developing those kinds of approaches,” she said.
Overall, Elrod sees herself being successful at UCCS. “I see UCCS as a place where I can bring what I’ve learned as an experienced leader and chancellor,” she said.
Nov. 30 Forum — Mahyar Amouzegar
Brown introduced Amouzegar as well, who was also given the chance to discuss his background.
According to his discussion and CV, he is the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at the University of New Orleans. He has also been a dean and an associate dean at two different universities in California.
Amougezar heavily emphasized his belief that students should be prioritized in a campus setting and are a crucial component of university leadership.
“I believe in shared leadership and shared leadership includes staff, faculty and students, so as much as students want to be part of decision making, they’re welcome to be,” he said.
When asked what his first goals would be if selected as chancellor, Amouzegar said he will prioritize fixing the university’s budget and retention.
He thinks that UCCS needs to cater to the students more and focus on retention. To do this, he wants to examine student demand for different degree programs and resources instead of attracting new students through new features.
“I am not a believer of build, and it will come,” he said.
In terms of communication, Amouzegar values gathering student feedback. He believes students can help figure out better ways to digitally communicate with the campus than the current mass email method.
He hopes to use this communication to look into the future and work on projects that will serve future generations of students.
Amouzegar was also asked about how he would bring his past experiences with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging to UCCS. He said DEIB should make students feel like they belong on campus.
Photo of UCCS Mountain Lion statue by Megan Moen.