CU Chancellor, Dr. Philip DiStefano, visited BRC on January 12 to share some of the stories behind the blurbs we see in the papers.
Dr. DiStefano came to CU Boulder 44 years ago as assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the School of Education. He has worked in many positions in those years and he came to his current position in 2007. As Chancellor he has a pivotal role in guiding CU’s course. Dr. DiStefano’s co-chaired the community driven steering committee that formed CU Boulder’s strategic plan called Flagship 2030.

One of Dr. DiStefano’s main focuses in the last several years has been increasing the diversity of the student body- economic diversity and diversity of experience. In fact, one of the primary goals of the strategic plan is to “recruit, retain and graduate students.” As a first generation college graduate in his own family, he is particularly committed to finding ways to support students from their freshman year right through to graduation.

Working with Colorado’s legislature, the parents of potential students, and high schools from all over, Dr. DiStefano has implemented several programs to achieve these goals. One program, guarantees that incoming instate freshmen will pay the same tuition rate for four years- no increases in that time period. In the fifth year, those students will pay whatever that year’s instate freshmen will pay. Last year, instate student applications were up by seven percent.

CU is also trying to lower unexpected costs like “course and/or program fees” students often pay on a class by class basis. (These fees may be as low as $1 and as high as $1500.) Because CU is financially able to do so, the University agreed to pay these fees. The different colleges collect nearly 8 ½ to 9 million dollars through such fees. Dr. DiStefano reported that all the Deans supported this change and he was happy to implement a program that affects students so directly.

Dr. DiStefano has also worked with low income high schools to offer scholarships to high achieving students who may not be financially able to consider college. He called these “True Grit” scholarships although the University calls the program “Impact Scholarships.” Last year they gave 60 scholarships and hope to expand the program next year. More than 90% of the recipients were first generation college students such as Dr. DiStefano.

Dr. DiStefano wanted to leave us with three words that he feels are his guides in all he does through his work at the University; “Lead, Innovate and Impact.” With these guiding principles, we are sure to see more positive headlines in CU’s future.