UCCS students hope for an engaged, accessible chancellor

March 21, 2017

Kyle Guthrie

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     “There are some big shoes to fill; Pam has left a huge legacy here on campus.”

     With these words, Sabrina Wienholtz, director of Student Clubs, Organizations and Leadership, expressed that the incoming chancellor has a lot to accomplish in the position recently left by Pamela Shockley-Zalabak.

     Since Shockley-Zalabak retired on Feb. 15, a search committee was formed in order to gather feedback from the UCCS community and search for the next UCCS chancellor.

     The committee has held meetings and forums since then. The chancellor search committee has expressed a high regard for the opinions of students, faculty and staff in finding a well-suited candidate for the job.

     The Scribe interviewed several students who gave their opinion on what they hope to see in the new chancellor.

     Angelita Flores, a senior English major with an emphasis in special education, is a member of American Sign Language Club who wants to see the new chancellor at club functions.

     “Just make an appearance to see what these clubs are doing and how they are participating and who the officers are that are coordinating the events,” she said.

     Katie Hermanson, a junior film and psychology double major and vice president of the Film Club of UCCS, agrees that club involvement is important for the new chancellor, along with passion for the job and for students.

     “I’d love to see more interaction with the clubs in general, because there was no interaction before with the previous chancellor and the film club,” Hermanson said.

     Students have suggestions for what they would like to see in the new chancellor that range from a deep understanding of biology to a better outreach program for out-of-state students.

     Anneliese Schaaf, a freshman history and anthropology double major, hopes the incoming chancellor will develop relationships with UCCS students.

     “I’d like to see opportunities, especially with commuter students, to actually meet with the chancellor and have a conversation started with them,” she said.

     “There is definitely a transition when moving into a more traditional college lifestyle, and it would help to have opportunities to be able to interact with the administration in a more meaningful way.”

     Faculty members want the new chancellor to continue the mission started by Shockley-Zalabak.

     “I think our mission of access is important, making sure we serve southern Colorado, low-income students, all these types of folks. I think an openness to meeting with students to grow the university is important too,” said Wienholtz.

     She, among other UCCS members, emphasized the importance of the campus’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

     “Our strategic plan of diversity and inclusion is super important to value,” Wienholtz added.

     Jesse Perez, assistant director of MOSAIC and LGBT Resource Center program director, voiced similar desires for the incoming chancellor.

     “I think what I would hope to see in the new chancellor is to stay true to the mission and the history of the university,” Perez stated.

     “We have been a campus that has always been about increasing access to higher education in southern Colorado, so we do a lot of targeting toward first generation students and students in rural communities to be a place to learn.”

     Perez added accessibility and listening as some of his important characteristics for the incoming chancellor.

     “In some organizational structures, it is very difficult to get the ear of the top official. At UCCS, if we felt something was important enough to be addressed to (Shockley-Zalabak), she was always open to responding to it.”

     Anthony Cordova, MOSAIC director, acknowledged that everyone will have different expectations for the new chancellor.

     “I would like the new chancellor to be an excellent listener,” he said.

     A chancellor’s forum will be held on March 22 in University Center 302, where interim Chancellor Venkat Reddy and senior vice chancellor for Administration and Finance Susan Szpyrka will offer a review of the 2017 fiscal year, a preview of 2018 and discuss enrollment.