Our tradition of resilience

I would be remiss if I didn’t begin my first letter in the University of Denver Magazine without acknowledging what an honor and privilege it is to serve as this institution’s 19th chancellor. I love the University of Denver. As a private university dedicated to the public good, we are a unique institution not just in the Rocky Mountain West, but nationally. And we live by this commitment. Our faculty teach it, their research advances it, our students participate and see themselves in it, and our alumni embody it. This is a point of pride for all of us.

This heritage is central to our history and to our plans for the future. And we would not be who we are without decades of work by dedicated and visionary people across campus. I know it goes without saying that Chancellor Emerita Rebecca Chopp is chief among them, and I hope you enjoy this issue’s profile of her vast achievements as much as I did. 

At DU, we stand on the shoulders of giants. We see far because we’ve come far. That history of strength and resilience inures us against the anxiety that can come with change. In fact, this university has always capitalized upon change—a devastating flood that destroyed most of Denver in 1864; the transition from the Colorado Seminary to DU in 1880; the unique needs of our students and community during the world wars; a turbulent financial crisis in the 1980s; the current demographic shifts occurring across the U.S. DU survived, and even thrived, through all of these changes and used them as fuel to pursue even greater goals and even better outcomes for our students. 

Often, and I think unfairly, higher education is perceived as being averse to change. But change is constant in higher education. As business adapts to new technology and work, so must our students if they are to succeed, and so must the University if it is to prepare them for that success. In every corner of DU, we are inquisitors, thinkers, experimenters. We are curious. We are agile because that’s what our research and classrooms demand. We are dynamic because that is what engages students. We are energetic because our work is constant, but also constantly rewarding. 

We are continually evaluating ourselves to make sure we are moving in the right direction. And when opportunities arise, we build new academic programs, adjust our perspectives and explore new paths to teaching, learning and research. If we want to continually grow as an institution, serve our alumni, attract and retain talent and, most importantly, serve the common good, this is what is required of us. It’s what this university has done since its founding, and it’s what I believe we are prepared and ready to do today and tomorrow. 

I can’t wait to see what we achieve together in this new academic year. Despite change or, more accurately, because of change, the future for the University of Denver—and the future of its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—holds boundless potential. I look forward to sharing this next chapter in DU’s history with each of you.


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