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Rebecca Chopp

Speech  •

Good afternoon, and thank you for being here as we celebrate our history and our future as a special part of our newly re-envisioned Founders Celebration. The core of the University of Denver is knowledge, which is created, expanded and disseminated by our world-class faculty. Knowledge transforms our students through the faculty-student relationships. Knowledge fuels our campus community of faculty, staff and students, and it unites our alumni and friends across the globe. Knowledge is our primary contribution to the Rocky Mountain region, and it is through knowledge that we are changing the world.

Our faculty members’ research, scholarship and creative work add to the body of human knowledge, expanding the way we think of the world. And through research, we realize our commitment to the public good by addressing real-world problems, increasingly through interdisciplinary approaches. In just a few moments, you will hear from five faculty members whose work demonstrates the importance and the power of a modern urban university—and highlights just some of the contributions we are making to to improve our community and the world.

Over the past seven years, our student headcount in traditional programs increased by 73, or less than 1 percent. Our faculty FTEs in those programs has increased by by 110, or 17 percent. That was in the thick of the recession, so while others were loading up on students, increasing class size and cutting faculty positions, we were doing exactly the opposite. This emphasis on the academic core helps distinguish the University as we advance our mission.

The work of our faculty represents the ideals not only of our founders and our history—but also of DU IMPACT 2025, our new strategic plan that we developed through conversations with thousands of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. During the planning process, it became clear that as the shape of knowledge changes—and as the world’s most vexing problems increasingly require multi-disciplinary approaches—we as a university must break down the barriers between departments and schools and make it easier for faculty members to identify common interests and pursue their passions. We also learned that the Denver region is hungry to interact even more with the University and access our intellectual capacity.

Looking at the history of this 152-year-old institution, it is clear to me that the University was never intended as an ivory tower. Originally situated in downtown Denver, DU has always had a special connection to the region and a commitment to making this area and the world a better place.

One of DU’s greatest strengths is our blend of a liberal arts undergraduate program with distinguished professional and graduate programs. Our sampling of faculty today represent just a few of our schools, but each of their presentations will demonstrate the value of research to greater society.

All of this is just to whet your appetite—both literally in terms of the wonderful reception we have planned following the presentations—but also figuratively, for today is just a taste of the amazing work our faculty are doing across the University. I can’t imagine a better way to honor our founding and our future than by celebrating work like theirs.