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University Relations

June 26, 2008 Communique

CU President’s Office honors UCCS program for student success

DENVER – The aerospace engineering and physics departments at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the chemistry department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are the winners of the first annual President’s Award for Outstanding Academic Leadership in Student Success.

The CU-Boulder aerospace engineering program placed first for outstanding academic leadership in undergraduate student success, and second place for outstanding academic leadership in graduate and professional student success. The Boulder campus’ physics department took first place for outstanding academic leadership in graduate and professional student success, and the UCCS chemistry department won second place for outstanding academic leadership in undergraduate student success.

The awards symbolize the premium CU places on academic departments that strive to measure student achievement and set the highest standards in undergraduate and graduate education, said Michael Poliakoff, vice president for academic affairs and research in the president’s office.

“Our review committee selected these academic programs because their students demonstrate consistent, extraordinary academic achievement at the national and international levels, and faculty members have demonstrated the kind of outstanding academic leadership that promotes an environment of excellence on all levels,” Poliakoff said.

Poliakoff said the committee based its decisions on objective, measurable evidence of student achievement, including awards earned at national or international competitions, students’ scores on standardized national exams, licensure or professional examination results, recognized scientific or creative achievements, and academic scholarships or fellowships such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, Fulbright and H. Truman scholarships. Outside rankings were only of secondary importance in the decision-making process, he said.

“Our focus was on how well students perform academically while at CU and in the professional and research arenas once they leave our campuses,” Poliakoff said. “As we move forward with this award program, our focus on measurable student achievement will increase. It is our hope these criteria will spur healthy competition, an enhanced culture of objective assessment of student progress and even higher academic standards.”

At a special reception scheduled to take place shortly after the start of the 2008 fall semester, CU President Bruce D. Benson will present first-place winners with a cash award of $15,000, a plaque and the President’s Cup, and second-place winners with a cash award of $5,000.

Tom Christensen, dean of the UCCS College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said the mission of the campus’ chemistry department is to give students the modern, comprehensive and rigorous education required to thrive in the age of global technological breakthroughs. Overall, UCCS is distinguished for a culture of assessment, setting benchmarks and enhancing student achievement, the award review committee said.

“The UCCS Chemistry Department is dedicated to undergraduate education. They are recognized leaders in implementing new technologies into the classroom. The faculty are deeply committed to working with undergraduate students in their research labs to give the students experience in doing real chemistry. Mix these with a genuine concern for student success and it is no surprise that our chemistry students do well after graduation,” Christensen said.

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