With Successes in Undergraduate Education Solidified, Focus Shifts to Professional Programs
At various points in its 146-year life, the University of Denver has taken great leaps forward that forever changed the educational experience it offers students. From expanding students’ worldview with the Cherrington Global Scholars study abroad initiative to beefing up its writing program, the University has demonstrated a commitment to introspection and innovation.
During the past academic year, DU completed a significant overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum, introducing a new 52- to 60-credit roster of required classes that emphasize critical thinking, writing and analytical reasoning, as well as foreign language acquisition. It also laid the groundwork for the fall 2010 launch of a new language center, where students will prepare for advanced course work at their study abroad sites.
With these programs and reforms under way or in place, the University was able to channel its resources toward addressing Chancellor Robert Coombe’s call for profound improvement in graduate and professional education programs.
“At this time, we’re very well placed with all aspects of the undergraduate experience, from curriculum to student and campus life, to faculty and academic qualification of our students,” said Provost Gregg Kvistad. “That’s not to say we rest on our laurels, but we have essentially accomplished our goal set in 2002 of fundamentally transforming the University’s undergraduate experience.
“We now have the ability to turn our focus and our initiative investments to graduate programs, particularly professional education programs at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Morgridge College of Education, Daniels College of Business and Sturm College of Law.”
At the Korbel School, a new dean—State Department veteran Christopher Hill—will build on momentum spurred by the school’s recent name change and by the launch of new programs and centers, including the SIÉ-CHÉOU KANG Center for International Security and Diplomacy, which was founded in August 2009. The center will provide leadership training for SIÉ Fellows, a program consisting of 10 international security specialists and diplomats to begin in fall 2010.
Meanwhile, both the Sturm College and Daniels College have begun implementation of new strategic plans. At Sturm, a strategic reduction in enrollment has allowed notable improvements in the number of graduates who pass the Colorado bar exam, progress Chancellor Coombe referenced in his fall 2009 Convocation address.
“The Sturm College of Law is a good example of what can be accomplished by a commitment to quality,” Coombe said. “Bar passage rates are up by over 18 percentage points in just the past few years, and the capabilities of our law students have grown tremendously as we reduce the size of incoming classes to improve selectivity.”
To capitalize on these improvements, the University has committed funding for 10 new law faculty positions over the next five years and has allocated considerable resources for financial aid.
At the Daniels College, graduate programs continue to climb in the rankings. Eager to build on this success, the school has taken steps to recalibrate its student population, gradually reducing the number of undergraduates it serves and increasing the number of graduate students it enrolls. With an eye toward serving graduate programs, the University plans to fund 13 new faculty positions and to make a significant investment in Daniels’ research and scholarship goals.
Meanwhile, at the Morgridge College of Education, momentum continues as faculty and students gear up for their first year in the newly constructed Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall.
“We obviously have quite a story to tell about Morgridge,” Kvistad said. “We’re making major enhancements at the PhD and master’s level, and there’s been real success with fundraising, including a $10 million gift from James Cox Kennedy that will be used to create the James C. Kennedy Institute for Educational Success and endow three faculty chairs.”
A portion of the Cox Kennedy gift also will endow the institute’s research and operations. The institute will identify strategies to ensure educational success for at-risk children.