In spring 2021, the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) led a strategic process to identify key priorities and initiatives for the campus over the next five years. OSI leveraged an inclusive, human-centered philosophy of design innovation to engage over 700 members of the campus community in contributing to a vision for how CU Anschutz might continue to break new ground in health sciences education, research, patient care and community engagement. OSI convened a steering committee and four working groups centered on each of these mission areas.
In synthesizing the recommendations from these groups, a common theme that emerged was the need to enhance the student experience. Stakeholders specifically addressed the desire to:
The Office of Student Affairs has been collaborating with the Center for Interprofessional Education (CIPE) to offer community connection circles for first-year students. The Student Affairs team trained faculty to facilitate connection circles with over 700 incoming students for the launch of the IPE curriculum in 2022 and 2023. These circles focused on engaging students in conversations that tie to the goal of CIPE to empower students in the development of personal identity, professional identity and team identity.
Student Affairs has also been working to build community and belonging through opportunities for students to connect across schools, colleges and programs. New programming has included a Friendsgiving event (over 150 students attended in the first year alone) and a regular concert series. Student Affairs continues to offer a wealth of other ways for students to connect, including student organizations, annual campus events, student government and on-campus recreation.
One significant recommendation of the Elevate the Student Experience Task Force was to allocate or construct a physical space for students to come together and to make the built environment more welcoming. In the absence of additional dollars for this effort, Student Affairs imagining ways to redesign aspects of existing space to better accommodate students.
Innovation in health sciences education is a point of pride at CU Anschutz, and every program is continually seeking new ways to remain at the cutting edge. Notably, the School of Medicine recently underwent a major curriculum reform to align with emerging best educational practices and to better train physicians to be nimble leaders who can collaborate and thrive in transdisciplinary teams.
Educators are also working together across campus to advance clinical education. In 2022, the Education Studio was launched to collaboratively consider shared research questions and methodologies in collecting evidence for best practices and education. Over 30 campus constituents gathered to explore the topic of Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs), and are continuing the conversation in an Education Network, where several members are working toward publication on the topic. Attendance more than doubled for the second Education Studio event in 2023, where guests from across CU Anschutz and the CU system convened to discuss the topic of badging and micro-credentialing. Again, individuals interested in pursuing scholarship in this area are collaborating in an Education Network.
Badges and micro-credentials have also been a major focus of for the campus as it boosts its profile in online education. Incubated in the Office of Strategic Initiatives, the Office of Digital Learning (ODL) launched in 2022 to provide support to programs offering hybrid and online options at CU Anschutz. ODL aims to enhance and expand digital learning opportunities through improved program support, market intelligence and digital marketing and enrollment services.
In addition to expanding access by creating digital pathways for education, CU Anschutz is working to expand access by improving the pipeline from K-12. The Office for Educational Outreach and Pathway Initiatives provides sustained, comprehensive programs across all educational levels to promote access and increase the numbers of underrepresented populations in STEM and research professions.
CU Anschutz has expanded and strengthened academic student support in several ways over the past few years. The staffing model has been enhanced to better serve students, including upgrading the student engagement position to a program manager, adding an associate director to student outreach and support and hiring an additional case manager. Student Affairs has also been working with the Office of Communications on consistent student messaging to increase awareness and utilization of resources. The office has also been working to improve digital resources and navigation with centralized resources and increased accessibility through significant web updates.
In the wake of the pandemic, campus constituents advocated strongly for improved mental health resources for students. In response, the campus partnered with MySSP to provide 24/7 mental health counseling for students and residents. Now called the Telus Health Student Support app, students can access counseling services anytime, anywhere through virtual, chat and call options.
Finally, registrar and financial aid services that were previously offered jointly with CU Denver have now been decoupled to provide more focused support for CU Anschutz students.
The campus is working to cultivate an ethic of diversity, equity, and inclusion across its community. A notable example of that work is the Health Equity in Action Lab (HEAL), which fosters action and leadership for health equity through training, consultation and deliberate practice. The Foundations in Equity certificate program, open to all campus members, helps faculty and staff hone their ability to facilitate DEI-related content. In addition, an interprofessional work group has been collaborating on an Inclusive Syllabus Project to advance DEI principles in the learning environment.
Recently, CU Anschutz has also made strides in restorative justice with a new program for Adaptable Resolution. This program is kicking off with community circles that help build community capacity and serve as an alternative means of conflict resolution.