As Colorado’s flagship university system, CU should be accessible for students from every corner of the state and for students transferring from other institutions, including community colleges. Recent actions to make CU more accessible are encouraging and continuing that work would be a focus of mine on the Board.

Community College Transfers

In the United States, more than 50% of college students begin at community colleges, which offer a more affordable education and allow students to remain in their communities. When those students decide to transfer to CU, the process should be seamless. However, in many cases course credits do not transfer, sometimes even after students have been told they would. They end up having to pay twice for the same class, possibly delaying their degree completion or making a CU degree unattainable. CU should provide better counseling to community college students considering a transfer, and I would be open to revisiting transfer agreements between CU and other schools to streamline the process.

Partnering with Non-CU Institutions

CU has formed partnerships with several non-CU institutions to allow students to get a CU degree while attending school elsewhere in Colorado. At Colorado Mesa University (CMU), engineering students in a 2 + 2 program take classes from CMU professors for their first two years, and from CU professors living in Grand Junction during their last two years, graduating with a CU engineering degree without ever leaving the Western Slope. Western Colorado University recently instituted a similar program, and as your Regent I would strongly consider additional partnerships to let students throughout Colorado graduate with a degree from the state’s flagship university. This is a win-win-win for CU, students, and local communities.

Distance learning

CU will need to be on the cutting edge of educational program delivery in order to attract both traditional and non-traditional students in the future. Increasing its online course offerings is one way to accomplish this. CU’s online courses are taught by regular CU faculty, setting it apart from most other universities.  Most of CU’s 65,000 full-time students already take some of their classes online. CU has a robust online platform, CUConnect, with an additional 7,000 students pursuing CU degrees by taking only online courses. Additionally, CU is about to launch the nation’s first Master’s Degree Program in Computer Science through a MOOC (massive open online course). I applaud CU’s efforts to increase its online course offerings, though as Regent I will be mindful of the balance between providing students a brick & mortar education versus an online one.