November 2019

Dear DU community members,

One thing that distinguishes this university from so many others is its strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025. The plan, and all we have accomplished so far, is a tribute to so many of you who have devoted yourselves to this ambitious, rigorous effort to build on DU’s strengths.

Yet, even as we progress, the national and global landscape continues to evolve at increasing speed. At The Relay in September, and in a series of divisional meetings across campus, I’ve discussed some of the significant challenges facing DU—and, indeed, all of higher education. The changing landscape poses significant challenges for some colleges and universities. A sharp drop-off in the number of prospective college students is already reducing enrollment at many institutions. The need for financial aid continues to grow, even as the costs of running an excellent University continue to push upward. And from policymakers to parents, there is more demand than ever for higher education to prove the true value of a college education, for our graduates and for society as a whole.

But the future is not all doom and gloom. And I’m both an optimist and pragmatist. Thanks to DU IMPACT 2025, we are prepared to respond to these challenges. As they grow more urgent, we need to focus, amplify, and accelerate the work already underway. Over the summer, with encouragement from the Board of Trustees, the senior leadership team began to prioritize themes and needs identified in DU IMPACT 2025 that we have not yet fully implemented. This has led us to five areas of strategic focus. These focus areas will help us to bend our trajectory and build additional momentum behind DU’s mission to promote learning, advance knowledge and creative thought, and engage students.

Five Areas of Strategic Focus
  • Ensure a sustainable future for the next generation through our financial, reputational, and operational practices
  • Create a unique global, holistic, ‘4D’ student experience
  • Cultivate an exceptionally diverse, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming community
  • Define and model a global, engaged research university
  • Ensure a signature portfolio of academic programs

Of course, some of this work is already underway. I met with the DU IMPACT 2025 steering committee this past month to formally asked the committee members, under the guidance of Interim Provost Lengsfeld, to organize their work for the 2019-2020 academic year around these areas of strategic focus. They will also develop a set of concrete recommendations for transformative next steps in each area.

Rising to the challenge of our specific time and place is crucial. And we are on an ambitious timetable. The steering committee will turn to many of you across campus for counsel and help, and we will have a broader, campus-wide conversation about these recommendations later this year. As this work develops, the steering committee will provide periodic updates and details about how you can participate. I encourage you to share your ideas so we bring the full wisdom, perspective, and creativity of this community to bear.

In future issues of Nineteen, I will share updates and progress. I’m excited about the future of the University of Denver, and I look forward to recording our progress and engaging in important dialogue.


Jeremy Haefner

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