Vail Daily My View: CU serves Colorado, the world |

Vail Daily My View: CU serves Colorado, the world

Philip P. DiStefano
Vail, CO Colorado

At the University of Colorado Boulder, we have a phrase that informs all that we do: “Serving Colorado. Engaged in the world.” The phrase comes from our strategic plan, called “Flagship 2030,” but it’s not some empty talk from a plan sitting on a shelf. It marks a real commitment that we are living out every day in our research and creative work, teaching and service.

That work lives in the research of people like Jeff Mitton, a professor of biology at CU-Boulder who is traveling with me this week as we tour some of the mountain communities that support CU-Boulder. Jeff’s research has given him insights into the devastation wrought by pine beetles in Colorado’s forests.

Professor Mitton will be delivering a presentation at a luncheon CU is hosting this Friday afternoon at the Olympic Ballroom at the Arrabelle at Vail Square. We will welcome CU alumni, members of the community and prospective or accepted students to the event to update the community on the exciting things going on at CU-Boulder, and on the research that faculty like Jeff Mitton are engaged in – research that is serving Colorado and the world.

Just this week, US News and World Report issued its rankings of graduate programs in U.S. colleges and universities. CU-Boulder’s impact on the world was illustrated clearly in our ranking as the No. 1 program in atomic/molecular/optical physics, tied with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It could be seen in our ranking in environmental sciences (fifth), environmental law (fifth) and physical chemistry (eighth), and in the 19 other academic programs that were rated from 17th in the nation to 47th (to learn more about these rankings, you can visit the University of Colorado website at

But beyond these rankings, which are a snapshot in time and represent a subjective evaluation of our programs, the university serves Colorado and the world through the efforts of our students, who have distinguished themselves with their ethos of public service and civic engagement.

Just last month, we were ranked as the No. 1 university in the nation for supplying Peace Corps volunteers. In 2007, we were recognized by the White House as one of three universities serving as a role model nationally for incorporating community service into the learning process. The 205 students from Eagle County are a part of this legacy of achievement.

Every day, our graduates are changing communities around Colorado in fields as diverse as education and finance, and testifying to legacy of service in work that is being engaged from the deserts of Saudi Arabia, to the ice sheets of Greenland, to the slopes of Vail.

It might surprise you, but down the road in Boulder we are firmly established as an institution of truly global excellence and achievement. We want to talk more with you about what we’ve done, where we are going, and how we can serve the Vail community as part of this fabric of success.

Please join us on Friday at noon at the Arrabelle, come visit us in Boulder at your earliest convenience, or drop me a line at

Philip P. DiStefano is chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder.

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