University of Northern Colorado President Andy Feinstein delivered his annual State
of the University address to a full house on Sept. 26, in the University Center Rocky
Mountain Grand Ballroom.
Feinstein drew inspiration for this year’s address from his real-life experiences
over the summer. Taking advantage of his first sabbatical after 25 years in higher
education, Feinstein spent two months with his family, climbing and hiking as many
of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks as possible. He said the experience provided many
parallels to the journey the university is undertaking in pursuit of the goals outlined
in its 10-year strategic plan Rowing, Not Drifting 2030. He emphasized that both journeys sometimes require laser-focus on the details of
the moment, but he also stressed the importance of shifting that focus to a broader
perspective to appreciate what has already been achieved.
“On countless occasions, I have looked up from what seems like an endless wall of
boulders to find myself overwhelmed by a vista more stunning than what I had imagined,”
said Feinstein. “On our collective journey toward 2030, we must remember to look up
along the way.”
This fall, the university is passing the midway point in the second of its five-phase
strategic plan. Feinstein’s address reinforced his commitment to reaching the goals
set forth in the vision for 2030, while celebrating key accomplishments that have
already occurred across each of the five vision elements that guide the university’s
Feinstein defined the university’s core principle of being Students First as a commitment
to transforming the lives of students.
One key achievement he highlighted from the past year in support of that commitment
is UNC's Colorado First-Year Admission Guarantee. The program guarantees admission to the university for eligible Colorado high school
students, removing the guesswork about whether UNC is a college option. The program
is of particular relevance to UNC students as 80% of the university’s undergraduate
population are Colorado residents, 42% are first in the families to attend college
and nearly 30% are Pell-eligible.
“Universities like ours – regional publics – are an essential part of higher education
in the United States. And we will continue to focus on keeping a quality education
accessible and affordable,” said Feinstein.
Other recent accomplishments that speak to student success include changes to the
institution’s academic portfolio. The university added new degree programs this fall
in statistics and computer science, certifications in drone technologies, GIS and
entrepreneurship and a Latinx music concentration, the first of its kind in the U.S.
Feinstein also acknowledged the launch of the university’s public-facing Alumni Employment Dashboard. The new interactive tool tracks the occupations and industries of employment pursued
by UNC graduates, providing further proof of student success beyond graduation.
Emphasizing that the diverse backgrounds, talents and experiences of the university
community create a richer environment for everyone, Feinstein remarked on the upward
trend in diversity among the student population. According to the fall 2023 enrollment
data, the number of Hispanic and Latinx-identifying students is at an all-time high
this fall at 26.3%, up from 25.5% in fall 2022. Achieving this milestone means UNC
is now eligible to submit an application early in 2024 for federal designation as
a Hispanic Serving Institution.
There have also been efforts across campus to build competency in diversity, equity
and inclusion, including:
- The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Understanding and Navigating Inclusion
Through Education (UNITE) workshop series.
- The development of programs on inclusive pedagogy from the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.
- The implementation of a DEI Fellows Program made possible through a generous gift from Chevron
Enhance and Invest
One of Feinstein’s key priorities is ensuring the institution has a strong team in
place to lead the university now and into the future. Feinstein said that compensation
is an important component to building that team and pointed to the university’s investments
in salary increases over the past two years for faculty and staff.
Other institutional efforts that align with ensuring UNC is a desirable place to work
- Launching a campus climate survey that will help inform future work of the university’s
strategic plan. Results of the survey will be shared with the campus community later
- Gathering feedback and contributions from the university community on the creation
of a facilities comprehensive plan.
- Ongoing renovations in the University Center to enhance dining options.
- Planned network upgrades that will improve wireless connectivity across campus.
Innovate and Create
Feinstein provided examples from across the university that showcased efforts to foster
opportunities for critical inquiry, discovery and creation. He cited specific achievements,
such as the cultural exchange trip to the Dominican Republic taken by students and faculty in the College of Performing and Visual Arts and the
recent reaccreditation in both business and accounting for the Monfort College of Business. He also reinforced
his commitment to the university’s pursuit of creating a College of Osteopathic Medicine
and indicated that a top priority in the coming year is to secure support to make
the college a reality.
“We continue to look for ways to expand UNC’s capacity to meet some of the most pressing
opportunities and challenges facing our state and world,” said Feinstein. “Through
the establishment of an osteopathic medical college, we will expand on UNC’s long
history as a leader in preparing graduates for careers in health care and health sciences.”
Connect and Celebrate
Feinstein closed his speech acknowledging the achievements that pertain to the last
of the five vision elements, emphasizing the importance of partnerships, collaboration
and building community.
He made a particular point of acknowledging the dedicated donors whose generosity
help advance the institution’s strategic priorities, indicating that last year’s fundraising
efforts were the third best in history, following the record-breaking success of the
previous year. He also reinforced his priority of building strong relationships with
education, business and community partners in Greeley and beyond.
“Whether it’s participating in the Kickoff Community Celebration for the Greeley-Evans
School District or hosting a Juneteenth celebration in partnership with the city of
Greeley, UNC seeks to set the standard for how engaged universities enrich the communities
in which they are located,” said Feinstein.
Other key initiatives and events that Feinstein included in his message were the milestone
celebration of the university’s 100th Homecoming, Oct. 9-15, and UNC's North of the Norm branding campaign. The campaign aligns with a key action item in the strategic plan
to raise the visibility of the university and Greeley with pride. Campaign banners
and billboards can be seen across campus and around the region. The concept is not
only a nod to the university’s physical location in the state it communicates that
“no single label defines us."
As the second phase of the strategic plan concludes at the end of the academic year,
Feinstein reminded those in attendance that work will transition to collaboratively
developing key actions and tactics for the upcoming third phase.
“I hope that as you leave today, you pause to celebrate how far we have come. Even
as we look to all that is ahead, remember that we are working together, driven by
a shared sense of purpose,” said Feinstein. “What makes the experience worthwhile
is the joy of coming together for the betterment of our university and the people
Until then, Feinstein encouraged the university community to pause, peer over the
edge of the mountain and appreciate the accomplishments made thus far.
— written by Deanna Herbert