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Chancellor Horrell’s final State of the Campus address

Though enrollment dips, CU Denver’s future shines bright

Chancellor Horrell addressed CU Denver on Oct. 22.
Photo: Aman Tewolde . The Sentry

To Chancellor Horrell, CU Denver is in the right place at the right time to move from success to significance. Though the number of students enrolled and the budget are down, Chancellor Horrell chronicled CU Denver’s upward trajectory of maximizing student success in her final State of the Campus address before her June 2020 retirement. 

Each fall, CU Denver’s Chancellor provides a wellness check on the university. This address touches on achievements from the previous year, how the university’s budget is obtained, and how staff and faculty’s efforts are affecting undergraduate and graduate admissions. 

This year’s State of the Campus, however, proved to be different. Instead of reviewing the previous year’s efforts, Chancellor Horrell looked back on each year’s accomplishments in her time as Chancellor. From 2016 to now, one thread unites all accomplishments: defining CU Denver’s identity as a thought leader for the Denver metro region and connecting students to the city’s resources. 

She explained that when she first came to CU Denver, her guiding task from then-CU President Bruce Benson was to make strides in defining CU Denver’s identity. In her time as Chancellor, every achievement—from reclaiming the CU in the City brand in 2015 to 2019’s first cohort of TIAA Chancellor’s Urban Engaged Scholars—solidified CU Denver’s image as being Colorado’s only public urban research university.  

“As we’ve embraced that as our north star, it has provided guidance and direction that has informed our priorities and solidified our strategies,” Horrell said. As urban areas continue to grow, Denver among the top, CU Denver’s resources hold the potential to shape the cities future. 

For the university to grow, potential students need to enroll, and current students need to be retained. While years prior showed CU Denver’s enrollment and retention to both be on the up and up, Chancellor Horrell revealed that both of those numbers are below projections for the fall 2019 semester. 

Currently, 80 percent of CU Denver’s budget stems from student tuition. When enrollment takes a dip, so does the budget, Chancellor Horrell explained. Last year’s projections set this year’s enrollment 2 percent below the anticipated amount. That dip in enrollment does more than free up 300 seats in classes: it results in a budget shortfall of $2.2 million for this semester alone. 

From here, a holistic approach to bridging the gap is being taken. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Budget has examined where long-term and short-term funds can draw, and Chancellor Horrell encouraged each administrative office to focus on recruitment and retention for the spring 2020 semester. 

“Each one of us has our hand on the tuition revenue tiller,” Horrell said. “Each of us can make a difference.”  

As her time of making a direct difference on campus draws to a close, Chancellor Horrell thanked the crowd through tears as she reflected on her four-year journey at CU Denver. Through the ups and downs, she expressed her gratitude. 

 “You can expect that I’m going to keep the pedal to the metal until I leave next June,” Horrell said. “And after that, you can count on me to continue to be one of your strongest cheerleaders.” 




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