Rising to challenges, individually and together
By President Timothy Mottet, CSU Pueblo
Published Aug. 21, 2020
Photo: CSU Pueblo
This is an unpredictable world – yet the community of CSU Pueblo is uniquely prepared to be resilient in uncertainty.
Individually and collectively, we’ve had plenty of practice. Many of our students have faced financial and other challenges. They navigate significant school, work, and family obligations. They persevere.
The most significant determinant of resilience, as research has shown, is the quality of our close relationships. We are resilient because we confront difficulties and learn how to work through them together.
As an institution, how resilient are we? We had one week this spring to move our tutoring center entirely online. Our tutors did this through a gaming platform familiar to students. In 48 hours, we went from in-person support to providing vital student services fully online.
This resilient character is also reflected in how we navigate these uncertain economic times. Thanks to combined support from CARES Act funding, debt refinancing, and the leadership of the Board of Governors of the CSU System, we are heading into the year without having to turn to tuition increases, pay cuts, furloughs, or employee layoffs. We have used this combined support to prevent a potential $21 million shortfall. Instead, we are planning for a far less-devastating $1 million in expense reductions; we will manage these reductions by leaving positions unfilled and eliminating vacant, noncritical jobs.
Vision 2028, our strategic plan, provides guiding principles useful in this unprecedented time and outlines a detailed blueprint to create a robust and increasingly resilient future. Vision 2028 describes three goals that will allow CSU Pueblo to become the people’s university for the state of Colorado and the southwestern United States: enhance the appeal of academic programs for students, ensure student success, and develop our faculty and staff.
These goals map to a set of initiatives that, when implemented, will create an ecosystem allowing the university to become sustainable. This plan includes a focus on supporting our faculty and staff; building community and organizational culture; and investing in the overall sustainability of the institution, exemplified by a new partnership to power the campus through solar energy.
The details of reopening campus this fall are still in flux, a reflection of the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will remain flexible and responsive to the data and science-based advice of public health officials.
In the meantime, we are going through an intensive preparation process to ensure our faculty and staff are ready for the new protocols and safety expectations that are essential to the reopening process.
We are grateful for the technology we have that keeps us connected, even when sheltering in place. And we are grateful for essential workers who have kept this university afloat during these difficult months. Most of all, we are grateful to be part of a learning community that stands out in its ability to rise to any challenge, individually and together.
Timothy Mottet, Ed.D., is president of Colorado State University Pueblo, a regional comprehensive university federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.