State of the Campus address: Chancellor talks strategic planning, COVID-19

Abby Aldinger 

aaldinge@uccs.edu 

      Chancellor Venkat Reddy gave his annual State of the Campus address and Q&A at Berger Hall on Oct. 7. During the speech, he laid out a 2020-2030 strategic plan, highlighted campus progress and provided details on the decreasing COVID-19 rates on campus.  

     Reddy began his address with the story of Mirai Nagasu, an Olympic bronze medalist figure skater that graduated from UCCS in December 2020. 

     Reddy said, “Mirai’s story teaches us that we can do extraordinary things, no matter how difficult, if we are true to ourselves.” He explained that this is one of UCCS’ core values. 

     Reddy then addressed health and safety at UCCS, acknowledging campus-wide efforts to implement COVID-19 precautions for in-person learning. 

     “Thanks to the high vaccination rate for our campus we [have] had a very successful semester so far,” Reddy said. Because of this, we should “keep our fingers crossed” regarding the upcoming in-person commencement ceremony in December.  

     Reddy acknowledged that in the area of enrollment, retention and graduation, UCCS will be celebrating one of the largest graduating classes ever this coming spring.  

     He also acknowledged that last fall, following the census date, UCCS welcomed an exceptionally large out-of-state student cohort. 

     The opening of the Hybl Center in August 2020 has led to an increase in enrollment and retention in several health and science programs on campus. 

     Reddy said that UCCS had a successful year for sponsored research. The UCCS development team completed a fruitful fundraising campaign despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reddy. 

     There are also architectural efforts being made on the annex to the Engineering Building, which Reddy hopes will increase the number of engineering enrollments and graduates on campus. 

     Ten UCCS graduate programs have also been ranked among the best in the nation. 

     In closing, Reddy opened the floor for a Q&A, where he was joined by Assistant Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communication Chris Valentine, who moderated the session. 

     The main questions that Reddy and Valentine answered concerns with staffing shortages, ongoing projects and renovations and the current COVID-19 status on campus. 

     The main takeaways from the Q&A were as follows: 

The mask mandate will continue to be enforced on campus.  

     Reddy explained that masks are “necessary for an on-campus” experience, and that the mandate is unlikely to lift anytime soon. 

Lack of funding has created issues for ongoing projects and renovations.  

     Reddy said that he is an optimist and “confident that we can make big things happen” in the wake of these financial obstacles. 

Online education will continue to be accessible to the students that need it.  

     Reddy said that over time, online programs like the OIT will only be improved as we prepare for future setbacks and accessibility options. 

Staffing shortages in food and transportation services pose a real problem on campus.  

     Reddy said, “There are certain pockets that are much harder in the service industry, [and] we’re having a hard time getting drivers and dining help.” 

Vaccination “proof” and COVID-19 tests will only become a requirement if the rate of COVID-19 infections significantly increases in the coming weeks.  

     “One of the critical trigger points that we put out there is if our campus infection rates are higher than our county infection rates … then we’re going to start taking more serious action,” Reddy said. 

     For students, faculty and staff interested in learning more about the topics covered in Reddy’s State of the Campus address and Q&A, the 70-minute livestream of the event can be accessed on Youtube

UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy at the state of the campus address coverage, photo by Lexi Petri.