Producing concrete ideas

The memorial tower on DU campus

DU IMPACT 2025 Town Hall focuses on implementation

University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp hosted a town hall meeting Oct. 28 on the implementation of DU IMPACT 2025.

During the town hall, Chopp reiterated the plan’s focus of the plan: students; knowledge; being an engaged university; and One DU. She also stressed the importance of University-wide collaboration on the project, which continues to evolve with the implementation of various initiatives.

“This is a very well- organized effort,” Chopp said of the plan. “We need everyone’s engagement; we will continue to evolve the process.”

DU Provost Gregg Kvistad, who is helping to oversee the implementation process, noted that the plan “will morph over time,” and that a vital part of ensuring success involves “producing ideas that are concrete.”

Among the initiatives discussed at the town hall were the need to encourage dialogue versus debate and the introduction of Community Engagement Fellows, a new program through the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) designed to enhance public good through collaboration and increase engagement activity around Denver.

Dialogue vs. debate

Although students are increasingly likely to communicate with friends, roommates and others via text and social media, the need for constructive and open communication remains, especially during times of tension that affect everyone. Recent conflict related to the use of DU’s free speech wall offers just one example of why constructive dialogue is necessary.

A vital component of this initiative involves educating the DU student community about the effectiveness of engaging in dialogue, which fosters working together and recognizes that there are many potential answers, over debate, which can be combative and assumes there is a single right answer. This initiative is designed to determine how the University can help students develop their dialogue skills.

With this in mind, two pilots will be launched this winter:

  • Pilot 1: new winter intergroup dialogue courses — The Department of Communication Studies will pilot new intergroup dialogue courses focused on gender. The courses will be a mix of tradition, engaging classroom time and facilitated dialogue connecting content to our own experiences. The courses will be comprised of two sections: COMN 1015.1 and COMN 1015.2. For more information, email Christine.foust@du.edu.
  • Pilot 2: training facilitators — Faculty, staff and students will have the opportunity to take part in winter and spring training retreats. These retreats will address the following topics: first responders to community incidents/crisis; student organization trainings; and a residential system component. Additional information will be available soon.

Community Engagement Fellows

The Community Engagement Fellows program was created to advance aspects of the Collaboration for the Public Good strategic initiative of DU IMPACT 2025. Fellows are assigned to an interdisciplinary issue area and charged with co-developing a plan to advance community-engaged work in consultation with community and campus stakeholders, as well as CCESL staff.

The program provides opportunities for students to gain valuable experience and contribute to the University’s vision of being “a great private institution dedicated to the public good,” while simultaneously advancing aspects of IMPACT 2025.

Areas and issues of focus include:

  • criminal justice
  • West Denver
  • immigrant and refugee populations
  • youth voice
  • transportation
  • social entrepreneurship
  • education access
  • sustainability

Some examples of broader goals of this initiative include: cultivating collaboration; cultivating capacity; cultivating reflection; and cultivating shared ambitions, action and achievement.

The next town halls are scheduled for Jan. 24 from 9–10:30 a.m. and April 14 from 3–4:30 p.m. Locations will be announced at a later date.