CU Forum

Conference on World Affairs gets New Management

"The World Affairs Conference was a bunch of lefties coming in
and talking to the students. Well, we got new management.
They're gone now. We're bringing in a more balanced operation."

-- Bruce Benson, CU President
Acceptance speech for Steamboat Institute
Courage in Education award

August 27, 2016

"We changed the management [of the CWA] so we could
bring in more thought, more conservative and different ideas."

-- Bruce Benson, CU President
President's Spring 2017 Town Hall
April 13, 2017

CU officials concerned about $160,000 expense of CWA
April 11, 2013

"Officials at the University of Colorado Boulder are taking a look at the Conference on World Affairs to determine whether the funding the university gives the event - somewhere around $160,000 - is a justifiable expense for the university.

The thinking behind the process, explains Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is that since the university now receives the vast majority of its funding from tuition dollars, an "externally facing" program like the Conference on World Affairs (CWA) must prove its academic and educational value to students. Otherwise, the university might reconsider its funding of the event."
Boulder Weekly: CU to examine future of CWA

CU Asssociate Professor John Griffin appointed Director of CWA
June 1, 2014

"On June 1 John Griffin became the fourth director of the Conference on World Affairs (CWA) since its inception in 1948. An Associate Professor of political science at CU-Boulder, Griffin will step down from his post as director of the LeRoy Keller Center for the Study of the First Amendment to direct the CWA. A Colorado native, Griffin received a B.A. from Boston College in 1990, a J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1995, and a Ph.D. from Duke University in 2002. Griffin replaces Jim Palmer, who held the position for 16 years before retiring from CU at the end of May."
CU Boulder Today: Griffin takes the helm at the Conference on World Affairs

Letter from 39 CWA staffers to CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano about the CWA
April 2, 2015

"Over the last year, the fundamental founding principles of the CWA have been called into question . . . . It seems the combination of unfamiliarity with the conference and the understandable concerns over campus-wide funding challenges have caused these administrators to mistakenly consider the CWA as something that must be narrowly defined, repaired, regulated and remade into just another institutionalized, sterile conference. . . .

As your know, the in-kind contributions the Conference receives from campus, Boulder residents and international participants put the value of the CWA into the millions of dollars. Without exaggeration, this is a distinctly unique model that does not exist anywhere else in the world."
Letter to CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano about the Conference on World Affairs

CU loses $1M donation over future of Conference on World Affairs
April 4, 2015

"As a long-time lover of the conference, I offered to make a lead gift of $1 million to kick off an endowment campaign to raise $5 million for the conference, [former CWA chairwoman Jane] Butcher said. "It is also true that this gift is off the table now due to the lack of acceptance of CWA's founding principles."
Boulder Daily Camera: CU loses $1M donation over future of Conference on World Affairs

Chancellor DiStefano to CWA: work with CU Office of Performance Improvement
to develop a Strategic Plan and Governance Structure for CWA

May 22, 2015

"My plan for moving the conference forward is to support the true partnership between the university and the community, with roles and responsibilities clearly defined for both. With this in mind, I have asked Professor Griffin to work with our Office of Performance Improvement (OPI) to develop a strategic plan for the Conference. OPI has worked with CU programs from the Alumni Association to Housing and Dining Services to Intercollegiate Athletics to develop key near- and long-term goals, and the strategies and metrics to meet them. In addition, I have asked Professor Griffin to work with OPI to develop a business plan for CWA that will ensure its sustainability heading into the future."
Boulder Daily Camera: Philip P. DiStefano: Moving ahead on the Conference on World Affairs

CWA experiences mass exodus of staff and volunteers
May 23, 2015

"The University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs has experienced a mass exodus of staff members and volunteers in the last month. Two of the three full-time paid staff members for the conference have resigned and more than three-quarters of the volunteer community leadership posts have been vacated."
Boulder Daily Camera: CU-Boulder's Conference on World Affairs sees dozens of staff, volunteer departures

85 Panelists: "We have chosen not to participate in the 2016 conference"
June 6, 2015

"From our experience as presenters at the Conference on World Affairs, we regard the CWA as an unparalleled event. It is nothing short of a national treasure and deserving of protection and preservation. It is our conviction that the CWA should remain an equal partnership between the University of Colorado and Boulder. As this was not the case in 2015, we have chosen not to participate in the 2016 conference. We join with the many voices in Colorado and from all over the country in urging CU to seriously consider changing its actions and the CWA leadership."
Boulder Daily Camera: A roster of 85 panelists: Sitting out the 2016 CWA

Griffin: "This is a university event and entity"
June 13, 2015

"This is a university event and entity," [John Griffin] said. "While we welcome the involvement of the community in terms of selecting our speakers and organizing our panels - that's a role the community has historically played and done a wonderful job at - at the end of the day, this is a university entity."
Boulder Daily Camera: CU-Boulder moving forward on CWA, but concerns remain

Conference on World Affairs Strategic Plan
August 31, 2015

"In June of 2015, a CWA Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) was formed at the request of CU- Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. The SPC, working with CU-Boulder's Office for Performance Improvement, was tasked with developing a strategic plan for the CWA. In addition, Chancellor DiStefano asked the SPC to recommend a detailed governance structure for the CWA."
Conference on World Affairs Strategic Plan

CWA Governance Structure: "a better platform for policy development and implementation"
September 15, 2015

"A well-defined structure of governance will not only allow the organization to continue to grow and serve its audiences, it will provide a better platform for policy development and implementation."
Conference on World Affairs Governance Structure

Does the CWA really need a strategic plan?
September 18, 2015

"[Q]: Does the CWA really need a strategic plan? It's a popular event with a nearly seven-decade tradition.

[A]: John Griffin: Indeed, it is an event with a long tradition and a unique place among public events at CU and really, public events anywhere. What we've learned in the strategic planning process is that even an event like CWA can be improved by identifying goals, ways to measure success, and ways to provide organization and structure to the work of planning and presenting the conference."
CU Boulder Today: CWA moving forward with new plan

Some CU regents criticize CWA over lingering liberal leaning
May 23, 2018

"I know you're doing a lot of good things there [at the CWA]. How can we shift this more?" [CU Regent Heidi Ganahl] said. "(The CWA) is getting labeled again. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem except that our leadership is saying that they've balanced out the CWA and now it's a Kumbaya, both-sides event."
Boulder Daily Camera: CU regents criticize Conference on World Affairs over perceived liberal leaning

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