Nineteen: 2021 and the future of DU

Welcome to winter term! I wish you all a happy New Year and the best in this new beginning.

The recent events at the U.S. Capitol and the continuing aftershocks are very distressing, but I remain optimistic about 2021. Yes, we still face many of 2020’s challenges—the ongoing effort to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, deep political division, civil unrest, climate change and the pervasive and ongoing inequities faced by too many in this country. Yet, the new year brings new hope.  I am eternally grateful for my role as chancellor of the University of Denver for many reasons, and chief among them is the perspective it gives me.

Our students are wide-awake to society’s challenges, and they are not content to stand idly by; they are eager to sow the seeds of change the world needs. Our faculty are helping to prepare our students for this work and advancing our knowledge of, yes, COVID-19, but also addiction treatment, immigration policy, artificial intelligence, early childhood education, Native American anthropology and so, so much more. And our staff are some of the most committed, creative professionals I have ever had the honor to work alongside. The challenges are grand, but our ambitions and capabilities are grander. I cannot help but be optimistic.

When I look to the future of the University of Denver, I see boundless potential. I see myriad ways this community, today, tomorrow, and 25 years down the line can make living better for everyone. This is important. Ensuring we can do it, ensuring this institution thrives, is what guides my every day, my every decision. Shortly after I took on the role as chancellor, I shared with the community my five strategic imperatives, guided by the incredible work of DU IMPACT 2025, a strategic planning document that was co-created by hundreds of DU community members.

5 Strategic Imperatives

The context in which DU is surrounded is changing. High costs of living. Tuition expenses and the burden of student loans. Demographic shifts. Society’s perception of the value of a degree. New ways to obtain an education (are most students going to get their degrees online in 50 years? Maybe!) In this evolving context, DU needs to be nimble and innovative. And we need to see these new realities not as doom and gloom, but rather as opportunities. The five strategic imperatives are just that, opportunities for DU to become the next, best version of what we have always been: a great University committed to serving the public good.

So, over the next few months, I am going to share with you here, in Nineteen, more information about each strategic imperative. I will share why each imperative is so important, what each can do for DU and for society, ways we are already rising to the task, and ways we can do even better.

I’m excited about DU’s future. I’m excited about this year. And it’s because of this community’s strength of commitment, intellect, ingenuity and character that I feel my optimism is very well placed.

Welcome again to the winter term. We know what to do to keep one another safe, so let’s do it. Better times lie ahead!


Jeremy Haefner