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Chancellor change: Provost Haefner will succeed Rebecca Chopp

Rebecca Chopp and Jeremy Haefner

Photos by Wayne Armstrong

It is the end of one era at DU and the beginning of another: After five years at the helm, Rebecca Chopp will step down as chancellor on July 14 due to a serious health condition. Replacing Chopp and becoming the University’s 19th chancellor is Jeremy Haefner, DU’s provost and executive vice chancellor since last July. Chopp plans to continue serving DU as an advisor on significant projects initiated during her tenure.

Chopp announced her decision to resign in April, writing in a letter to alumni, faculty, staff, students and parents that “the doctors I have been working with have diagnosed me with a complex neurological disorder that I need to attend to sooner rather than later. After many tests and consultations, I have decided I must step down as chancellor.”

Shortly after arriving at DU in 2014, after serving as president of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Chopp initiated a strategic planning process involving thousands of DU community members. Following a thorough consultative process, she introduced the University’s strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025, which includes an emphasis on student learning and leading, diversity and inclusion, globalization, cross-discipline and cross-industry collaboration, the University’s connection to Denver and the region, and most recently, DU’s shared sense of community and values. 

“Chancellor Chopp has been DU’s greatest champion and a true force of nature since she arrived five years ago,” says Denise O’Leary, chair of DU’s Board of Trustees. “Her vision for the University, her meticulous and broad consultation throughout our strategic planning process, and her genuinely collaborative and down-to-earth Midwestern style have all made her deeply respected and highly regarded at DU and in the greater Denver region. Beyond that, our community absolutely treasures her. We are so fortunate that she will be able to continue on in service to DU and to help bring to reality some of the projects about which she has been most passionate.”

In her message to the DU community, Chopp wrote: “…the greatest privilege of my life has been to work with you, to affirm our great strengths and imagine forward. You are, in the words of this simple Kansas girl, ‘good folks.’ God bless you and I look forward to working beside you during this transition and in new and fulfilling ways.”

Having worked with Chopp on DU IMPACT 2025 and other initiatives since his arrival last summer, Haefner is well-positioned to continue the work she started during her tenure. Haefner’s previous experience includes serving for 10 years as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York and nearly two decades at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

At RIT, Haefner developed and helped implement the school’s academic direction to ensure the success and effectiveness of its academic colleges, graduate studies, institutes, and three global campuses, culminating in the reclassification of the university as a doctoral research university and achieving a top 100 national university ranking. He held various leadership positions at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the most recent being associate vice chancellor for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school, which he held concurrently with the position as dean of engineering and applied science.

“The University of Denver is an extraordinary private university known for its mission to serve the public good,” Haefner says. “It is a place where students receive an excellent holistic education that prepares them for life and careers in the 21st century. It is a place where faculty are world-class teachers-scholars-practitioners, and where the staff play an essential role supporting students and faculty. Our future success will be built on the strong foundation set by our strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025, and by our history of great leaders. I am honored to have been chosen by the Board of Trustees to serve as the University of Denver’s 19th chancellor.”

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