On Oct. 18, many students, faculty and administrative UCCS officials discussed the state of the campus, noting UCCS’ accomplishments and challenges from the past year.
The UCCS officials met in Berger Hall for the annual event and shared their perspectives on the state of UCCS. Each speaker shared accomplishments, challenges the campus is currently facing and their visions for the future of the campus.
According to the speakers, the campus has a seen a wide array of accomplishments in the areas of student engagement, department and staff development and research funding.
Student body president Axel Brown identified student engagement as the greatest accomplishment on campus within the past year.
“We have seen a phenomenal increase in student engagement so far this year. Both Clyde’s Kickoff and homecoming this year saw a 30% increase in participation with over 1,200 students attending these events,” Brown said.
Interim chancellor Jennifer Sobanet shared the accomplishments of many different groups on campus. One such accomplishment is the development of different departments around campus.
“The Technical Communication and Informational Design Program as well as the Women’s and Ethnic Studies Program are now officially departments in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences,” Sobanet said.
In addition to the expansion of programs, Sobanet shared that the Anschutz Engineering Center, which will house the College of Engineering and Applied Science, is on track to open for the spring semester.
Interim chancellor Sobanet also noted the accomplishments of faculty members. “UCCS has two new distinguished professors this year. Doctor Dorothea Olkowski and Dr. Carlos Paz de Araujo. Dr. Olkowski is the first female professor to be recognized with this honor at UCCS,” she said.
The title of distinguished professor is only given to top professors in their respective fields of research at a university.
Faculty assembly president Monica Yoo shared that over the pandemic and during recovery, research took a significant dip as faculty members found it more difficult to engage in research. However, Yoo said there has recently been a huge upswing with a 108% increase in research funding for this year. She is now focused on increasing research conducted on campus.
Challenges and plans for the future
Each speaker brought their personal perspective regarding UCCS’ challenges and plans to fix them. From student retention to growing in research to student engagement, the consensus was UCCS is facing a wide breadth of challenges.
Although SGA has seen a lot of success in increasing student engagement on campus, it remains one of its greatest challenges. “There’s always areas where more students can be encouraged to become more engaged and develop a stronger sense of belonging,” student body vice president Aidan Clark said.
The high student engagement has also led to ongoing struggles of supply and demand challenges.
Brown said SGA is looking for ways to increase student participation in SGA’s yearly elections. While these elections impact every student, only about 10% voted in last year’s election,” Brown said. “We know that voting turnout will never be 100%, but we hope so.”
Interim chancellor Sobanet focused on retention and the mental wellness of the campus.
“We want to ensure that everyone on our campus has access to the resources that we need to cultivate our personal and our collective wellbeing,” Sobanet said.
To address this issue, the Wellness Center has begun to offer free access to SilverCloud, a mental health service that provides recommended programs to assist with the mental health of all faculty, staff and students. The center is also taking steps to continue expanding mental health services for everyone.
Interim chancellor Sobanet views the retention of students on campus as something that could only be solved by the collective work of the community. She is creating a new retention plan that addresses student engagement on campus while connecting them to campus resources.
“The retention of our students is the job of everbody on campus. The smallest interaction with a student can be the difference between whether or not they stay at UCCS. We must meet our students where they are and eliminate unnecessary administrative and logistical barriers,” Sobanet said.
Student body presidents Axel Brown and Aiden Clarke discuss the challenges behind voting turnout for student elections and why more people need to get involved. However, they do not discuss actual ways to increase voting turnout on campus. Photo by Megan Moen.