Led by:

Keith Miller, Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director, University Honors Program

Lili Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

As they move through a university, students should not experience a great divide between the classroom, laboratory, athletic or extracurricular experience. Education is the best place for our undergraduates—and many graduate and professional students—to develop the whole self intellectually, emotionally, physically and interpersonally. At DU, students will acquire the skills they need to navigate their lives and careers by focusing on their strengths and taking charge of their educational journeys.  The University will provide a series of knowledge base and skill-building workshops to better prepare students to meet the demands of a 21st century personal and professional life.

Working Groups

Navigating DU, Navigating Life

Jennifer Karas

Vice Provost, Academic Programs

Keith Miller

Director, University Honors Program and Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Lili Rodriguez

Vice Chancellor, Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

Mike Kerwin

Associate Professor, Geography

Niki Latino

Executive Director, Academic Resources

Tracey Adams-Peters

Director, Student Success

We are focusing on 4 main priorities for the 2017-2018 academic year:

  • See updates

    Compass Curriculum:

    This fall, winter and spring we are implementing a workshop pilot series reflecting the Before College Student Survey of Engagement (BCSSE) results of our first year students. Students were most concerned about: Balance, Affordability and Mental Health and Wellness. They were most excited about: Academic and Student Support, Diverse Relationships and Meaningful Involvement. Our workshops will revolve around 3 topics:

    1. Health and Wellness
    2. Self-Awareness: Career Exploration and Academic Coaching
    3. Intergroup Relationship Building

    We are piloting the program with 4 cohorts:

    1. 1st generation students (1GenU)
    2. Transfer Student Living Community
    3. Excelling Leaders Institute
    4. Students who opt-in

    Our primary goal is to decrease tensions on campus by providing students with opportunities to engage in honest conversations around differences and improve the campus climate for optimal learning. This will be a non-threatening way to teach them basic skills in civility and respect.

    Our secondary goal is to provide our students with the dialogue skills needed to facilitate difficult conversations, skills that will serve them well in leadership positions across industries. The content of the dialogues will focus on the skill development and self-awareness goals.

    We are also working in partnership with faculty, staff, administrators and graduate students to develop a 30 week leadership, conflict resolution, intergroup, health and wellness curriculum for first year students in order to provide a holistic transition into the university.

    This winter we will also host a Design the First Year Ideation Session with people from across campus and led by a national leader in first year and transition experience.

    Case Management: Caring for the Whole Student

    We are developing a holistic approach to case management to support students (undergraduate and graduate) and their families in navigating challenging times, a complex world, and natural disasters. We now have a framework to case manage students, their families and communicate with faculty that can be done within a 24-hour time period.

    We are also working with students on precipitous decline, which is an academic standing in which a student is in good academic standing overall yet had a quarter of a 1.5 or lower demonstrating the need for immediate intervention. Students are assigned a SOS Case Manager in order to develop an individual support plan. Students are engaged in a team approach with SOS, academic advising, and other campus resources to help the student resume studies and recover from a challenging quarter.

    Academic Coaching and Empowerment Academic Development Module:

    Academic advisors work with students to administer a pre-intake process and post-test through the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory. From their results, academic advisors work with the student to identify skill-building goals. In September, we facilitated a one-day academic coaching training for 40 DU faculty and staff who are engaged in academic coaching. Together, they learned how to engage students in a growth mindset, story-telling, resilience, and problem-solving to take ownership of their own experience. Staff and faculty learned how to let students know that they are coaching them so that the student can actively engage in their goal setting and action planning. This will help us move from transactional advising to transformational advising.

    2 graduate students have been hired as part-time academic coaches located within the centralized CLIE academic advising.  The coaches can work with all students-graduate and undergraduate to support additional skill-building with time management, organization, goal-setting, and planning.

    Suicide Group:

    Nationwide mental health concerns and suicidal ideation/attempts are spiking which calls for the need of proactive education and reactive comprehensive student support. Research suggests that when students are healthy– mentally, physically, and emotionally and they experience a welcoming and affirming campus climate—their academic performance will reflect it. Each person at the University has a role in this Culture of Care.

    We have developed a postvention debrief and toolkit so that we can support the entire campus in healing from suicide. This proactive planning with the entire campus community to develop education, awareness and importance of reaching out for help is crucial. Therefore, we have also started offering trainings and professional development sessions for the campus community in order to better understand how to support and refer students, and create awareness, education and hope for suicide prevention.

    We have redesigned the red folder in order to help us recognize the indicators of students in distress and be able to intervene early. If you are interested in a professional development session to learn more about working with students in distress, please contact the SOS staff at

    Last Updated: 11/16/17

Academic Advising

Heidi Perman

Executive Director of Career & Professional Development, Career Services

Ingrid Tague

Associate Dean, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor, History

Jennifer Karas

Associate Provost, Academic Programs

Keith Miller

Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director, University Honors Program

Mike Kerwin

Associate Professor, Geography

Nancy Lorenzon

Director, Undergraduate Research Center, Director, Pre-Professional Allied Health and Professor, Biological Sciences

Nancy Sasaki

Associate Dean, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Teaching Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Niki Latino

Executive Director, Academic Resources

Tonnett Luedtke

Director of Advising/Orientation, Academic Resources

Building upon the strengths of the current partnership between Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Career & Professional Development, this faculty and staff working group will engage the campus community as we explore strategies to best advise undergraduate students.

We are focusing on 3 main priorities for the year:

  1. Evaluating multiple types of advising available to undergraduate students.
  2. Beginning to develop an informed and integrated advising framework that includes personal and career advising, including internships.
  3. Building further collaboration and streamlining communication between advising areas.

To do so, we will explore how the university might build on our partnerships in academic coaching, mentoring, and career & professional development advising to develop this student-centered approach. We will also continue to educate the campus community on the importance of the student’s overall health and wellness and the impact on their academic experience.

Last Updated: 11/28/17

Learning, Living and Leading in Community

Lili Rodriguez

Vice Chancellor, Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

Carrie Ponikvar

Director, Residential Education

The Denver Advantage: 

In 2016, we selected Brailsford & Dunlavey to help study our strengths and needs in the residential experience. Brailsford & Dunlavey led workshops with over 200 community members and put out a survey to all students to better understand the needs and desires of our student population. Incorporating feedback from their final report, we are building a new residence hall for first-year, first-time students that will provide space designed in a “cluster” model to support robust programming and help students launch a successful college career. This will also increase our ability to house more juniors and seniors, who are increasingly asking to live on campus to be better connected to the campus community and because rising Denver rents are becoming less tenable. We have hired an Architect of Record and are hosting open forums to incorporate the DU community’s feedback as we build the buildings. This major initiative is being pursued under the Denver Advantage.

Last Updated: 10/23/17