Chancellor's Strategic Advisory Council

Major Redefinition and Commercialization of CU Boulder

Advisory Council Web Site Reconstructed and Annotated

In 2012, Chancellor Philip DiStefano initiated a substantial redefinition and commercialization of CU Boulder.

The effort included the formation of a Strategic Advisory Council, intended to be composed of "influential corporate and thought leaders from across Colorado and the nation."

The Council was to work closely with the Chancellor's internal cabinet in devising and implementing new policy directions for CU Boulder.

The stated goal was to turn CU Boulder into a "comprehensive national research university and collaborator with industry."

Collaboration with industry would entail "helping businesses generate new products, new technologies and new economic growth."

Among the changes implemented as this effort proceeded, a new CU Office of Industry Collaboration was created, which was later folded into a new and more comprehensive CU Research and Innovation Office ("RIO").

Key to this initiative is the notion that "revenue and cost models used in the past will no longer sustain the university . . . . We must identify new and creative ways to generate revenue and reduce costs." We must "create a sustainable fiscal and organizational model and [look] at methods to maximize effectiveness and efficiency."

In plainer language, this means that a major theme of the initiative - and a major policy change for the University - is to transform CU Boulder from a public institution of higher education into something else.

That something else seems to be a private, corporate entity, adopting business and commercial values to "maximize effectiveness and efficiency" as CU Boulder works to commercialize its campus activities.

Some insight on this question comes from recent comments Chancellor Distefano made to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

"The Gazette's editorial board met recently with CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano to discuss what the university does right . . . .

DiStefano, like most of the administration throughout the system, runs his campus like a business. That involves treating students, prospective students, and tuition-paying parents as customers who want the school to make economic sense."

As CU has eliminated independent campus journalism from the Boulder campus, information about this initiative has largely been disseminated through in-house publications of the CU Boulder PR department, adhering to the guidelines of the CU Boulder Brand Messaging Platform.

The CU Forum has attempted to provide a reconstructed and annotated web site for the Strategic Advisory Council.

This web site makes available some of the source documents used by the Council (as well as additional information), in an effort to provide some insight into the policy thinking of the Chancellor and the Council on these issues.

Wider dissemination of these source materials will provide a basis for wider campus discussion of the policy issues surrounding the redefinition and commercialization of CU Boulder.

Reconstructed and Annotated Strategic Advisory Committee Web Site

Chancellor DiStefano declined a request to comment on this article or the reconstructed web site.

Graphic Illustration of CU Boulder Commercialization

A conceptual drawing of a proposed connector building
between the Engineering Center and the Business School.

The building on the left, depicted mostly in white, is the existing Engineering Center.

The building on the right, with the large downward sloping roof, is the existing Business School.

The building in the center, with the vertical columns, is a proposed connector building between the two.

The connector building is the result of a two million dollar donation to CU Boulder.

The illustration graphically and concretely depicts the connection of research with commercialization now being promoted on the Boulder campus.

The Business + Engineering Expansion