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Briefs June 2021

Heather Retzko Moderates CU Denver School of Public Affairs First Friday

Heather Retzko, Associate Vice President of State Relations, moderated the final First Friday event of the 2020-21 academic year for the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. Heather, along with the panelists, Travis Berry, Partner, Politicalworks; Jennifer Corrigan, President at Summit Policy Works and Founder, This Week at the JBC; Jesse Paul, Political Reporter, The Colorado Sun; and Kachina Weaver, Principal and Founder, Weaver Strategies, discussed Colorado’s legislative accomplishments in the 2021 State Legislative Session. Several issues were examined, including the impact of a larger budget in Colorado compared to previous years. They also discussed important legislative initiatives such as stimulating the economy post-Covid, healthcare, gun violence, taxes, social equity, pandemic relief, and other issues. Audience members were engaged, asking multiple questions throughout the conversation. Watch the video here.

Heather Retzko, Jennifer Corrigan, Travis Berry, Jesse Paul, Kachina Weaver at the May First Friday event

Heather Retzko, Jennifer Corrigan, Travis Berry, Jesse Paul, Kachina Weaver at the May First Friday event

Office of Government Relations

CU Advocates for the TREAT Act

Associate Vice Chancellors for Health, Wellness, and Student Affairs and Success from all four CU campuses sent a letter to the Colorado congressional delegation asking them to support enactment of the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act (H.R. 708). The TREAT Act seeks to enact licensure reciprocity between states. During the pandemic, many students departed their respective campuses to reside in their home states. Doing so caused them to lose access to essential care such as medication management, crisis care, and established therapy when they returned to their home state, as the majority of their providers’ licensure and prescriptive authority do not expand across state lines. This lack of access to essential care came as students were already facing burdens caused by the pandemic, including losing employment, switching to remote learning, moving back into potentially unstable environments, and facing food and housing insecurities. Under – or uninsured students especially found that community resources were not readily available. CU School of Medicine providers faced similar challenges during the pandemic as they attempted to provide continuity of care for out-of-state patients. The TREAT Act would enable universities to provide care services to those students who are remotely attending classes from outside the state in which their respective universities are located. The Association of American Medical Colleges provided a summary of the importance of the TREAT Act. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

CU Supported Competitiveness Legislation Advances

In June 2021, the Senate took a major step to advance the Endless Frontier Act, passing it on a bipartisan vote of 68-32 as part of a massive package of innovation, trade, and research security legislation called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (S. 1260). Soon thereafter, the House advanced its own science authorization bills, the NSF For the Future Act (H.R. 2225) and Department of Energy Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593), also on bipartisan votes of 345-67 and 351-68, respectively. Colorado’s congressional delegation voted along party lines with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing the bills. The overall bipartisan support for the bills signals enthusiasm among lawmakers for investment in research and technology development as key planks for enhanced competitiveness and economic development. CU strongly supports the increase in research funding authorizations for NSF and other federal agencies provided in both the Senate and House-passed bills. S. 1260 would authorize $81 billion and H.R. 2225 would authorize $73 billion for the NSF over five years. NSF is currently funded at $8.5 billion. CU and our national and scientific partners have requested at least $10 billion for the agency in FY22. H.R. 3593 would authorize $50 billion over 5 years for DOE’s Office of Science (SC), which is the primary federal supporter of basic physical sciences research. DOE SC is currently funded at $7.7 billion. CU is the top NSF-funded and DOE SC-funded academic institution in Colorado. 

While there are important similarities across the legislation, including robust authorization levels as well as the creation of a new NSF directorate focused on use-inspired research, there are also substantial differences including in the area of research security. It is unclear how these differences will be reconciled and negotiations are not expected until the fall. CU engaged with our Colorado delegation throughout the legislative process, including the more than two weeks S. 1260 was considered on the Senate floor. In partnership with the national associations and other universities, we were successful in preventing several problematic policies from being adopted. We also worked with Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who sits on the House Science Committee, on inclusion of an amendment to the House NSF bill to ensure the agency expands on existing wildfire science in its risk and resilience work. We are grateful to Rep. Perlmutter for his leadership. You can read his release on the amendment here.  CU’s Federal Team will continue to work with our members as the legislation is conferenced to address remaining issues and advance policies beneficial to the university. We will also continue to engage through the appropriations process to ensure authorized funding levels for NSF, DOE and other federal agencies are realized in the spending bills advanced by Congress.

On February 5, the University of Colorado system authored a letter, signed by several higher education institutions in the state of Colorado, which requested additional relief for students and institutions, additional funding for state governments, and additional relief for researchers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319) in March. Thanks to this legislation, vitally important research funding was provided to the state of Colorado and CU, along with other higher education institutions. 

CU Joins Amicus Brief in Support of OPT

On June 21, CU joined 151 higher education institutions in signing an amicus brief in support of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit for international students. This program allows international students up to three years of training experience in a field directly related to their major. OPT helps CU recruit the best and brightest international students to study at its campuses. CU joined the brief at the urging of leadership in our international offices across all four campuses. The higher education community weighed in on OPT due to its critical role in experiential learning, including the ability for students to practice and implement the very educational skills developed on campuses. 

The amicus brief was led by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Read more about the brief here.

CU Boulder Dean Jim White Participates in Rep. Crow’s Sustainable Power Initiative Roundtable

CU Boulder Dean of Arts & Sciences Jim White participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by Rep. Jason Crow to discuss challenges related to national security, energy efficiency, and environmental resiliency. Sen. Michael Bennet, Department of Defense Senior Climate Advisor Joe Bryan, and President of Xcel Energy in Colorado, Alice Jackson, joined the discussion on May 26. Rep. Crow’s “Sustainable Power Initiative” has been convening roundtable discussions with leaders across military, economic, defense, energy, and environmental sectors since 2019. The full roundtable with Dean White can be viewed here.

Rep. Neguse First Annual Wildfire Summit Includes CU Boulder Professors

In February, Rep. Joe Neguse convened the first annual wildfire summit, which brought together stakeholders from around the state of Colorado to discuss problems around wildfires and to seek collaborative solutions. 2020 saw some of the largest and most destructive fires in Colorado’s history, and scientists forecast that fires will only become worse as climate change causes the wildfire season to lengthen. 

Dr. Jennifer Balch, Director of Earth Lab & Fellow in CIRES, University Director of the USGS North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, & Associate Professor in the Department of Geography joined Dr. Christine Wiedinmyer, Associate Director for Science at CIRES and Research Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on a panel discussing the science of wildfires. Other experts on the panel included Dr. Sara Brown, Forest Service (RMRS) Program Manager, Fire, Fuels, and Smoke Science Program; Brett Wolk, Assistant Director Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University; and Dr. Michelle Newcomer, Research Scientist, Climate & Ecosystem Sciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. 

The summit consisted of five panels, which provided in-depth looks at topics such as forest management and disaster recovery. Rep. Joe Neguse was joined by Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.

CU Boulder Wins First Place in DOE 2021 Solar Decathlon Build Challenge

The CU Boulder Solar Decathlon team competed in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® Build Challenge, a collegiate competition in which student teams design and build high-performance, low-carbon homes powered by renewables. The CU Boulder team designed and constructed the SPARC (Sustainability, Performance, Attainability, Resilience and Community) home in Fraser, CO, which aims to address the housing attainability crisis and construction challenges faced by mountain towns across the country.

The 2020 Build Challenge Competition Event was previously scheduled to take place on the National Mall in Washington, DC during the summer of 2020. The competition was moved to a virtual platform, with staff from the office of Senator Hickenlooper touring the winning home virtually. Contest winners were announced in April, 2021. CU Boulder won the 2020 Build Challenge Overall and tied for second place in energy performance. The Boulder team also took second place in engineering, financial feasibility and affordability, and operations. They took another first in architecture and market potential. Read more about all the winning designs here and read more about the team from the CU Boulder College of Engineering & Applied Science.

CU Campuses Join the White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge

This month, CU joined more than 350 higher education institutions in an effort led by the White House to get college communities vaccinated. Participating colleges committed to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all. The White House and the Department of Education invited colleges and universities across the nation to join the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. All four CU campuses have joined the challenge and all students, faculty, and staff will be required to have COVID vaccinations before the start of fall semester 2021. Read more about how CU Boulder and UCCS are taking on this challenge.

2021 Virtual Hill Visits

Despite the challenges of working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, CU’s Federal Team has continued to arrange and staff strategic virtual meetings with congressional offices and committees.

Members of the Association of University Programs in Occupational Health and Safety (AUPOHS) from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and Colorado State University, Lee Newman, MD, MA, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health; Gwenith Fisher, PhD, Director of the Occupational Health Psychology program at Colorado State University; and Morgan Valley, Administrative Professional with the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at Colorado State University, discussed the annual request for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) budget and the line items in NIOSH that support faculty and students at the Colorado School of Public Health. The group met with health staffers with the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Reps. Crow, Perlmutter, Lamborn, DeGette, Buck, and Neguse. 

Leadership from the Marcus Institute for Brain Health (MIBH), Director James Kelly, MD, MA; Director of Special Projects, Daniel Wilkerson, JD; and Michael Hartford, a medical consultant who is also a veteran, met with staffers from the U.S. Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, the Subcommittee on Health and Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, and the Subcommittee on Health. The group also had virtual meetings with health staffers from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Senator Jerry Moran (KS). Finally, discussions took place with health staffers from the offices of Reps. Crow and Lamborn. 

Dr. Regina Richards, Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement; Mark Earnest, MD, PhD, FACP, Professor of M​edicine and Division Head, Division of General Internal Medicine at CU School of Medicine; Dominic Martinez, Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Office of Inclusion and Outreach and Undocumented Student Services; Rita Lee, MD; and Neil Krauss, MSF, MA, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Initiatives and Community Engagement, met with health staffers from the offices of Senator Bennet and Reps. Perlmutter, Crow, and DeGette. The group discussed health equity and health workforce diversity. 

Chris Koehler, Director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC) at CU Boulder discussed work that COSGC is doing for the state and asked for continued congressional support for the national Space Grant program within the FY22 appropriations process. Koehler met with space staffers from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Reps. Lamborn, Buck, Perlmutter, Neguse, DeGette, and Crow.

As part of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) Advocacy Day, a group from CU Boulder advocated for advancing humanities education, research, preservation, and public programs. The group was comprised of Jennifer Ho, Director, Center for Humanities & the Arts, and Professor of Ethnic Studies; Sharon Van Boven, Finance & Operations Manager, Center for Humanities & the Arts; Jennifer Knievel, Lead, Researcher & Collections Engagement Team, University Libraries;  Katherine Lewis, Program & Events Coordinator, Center for Humanities & The Arts; Christopher Braider, Arts & Sciences Professor of Distinction in French; and Dr. Noelle Baker President-Elect, Association for Documentary Editing and Co-Editor in Chief, Scholarly Editing. The group met with staff from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Reps. Neguse, DeGette, and Buck.

Dr. Manuel Serapio, Discipline Director of International Business and Faculty Director of CU Denver Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs) at CU Denver Business School; Karen Warsh, Assistant Director of the Institute for International Business at CU Denver and CU Denver CIBER; and Danielle Rocheleau Salaz, Executive Director, Center for Asian Studies at CU Boulder, discussed Title VI advocacy and updates on the work they are doing on their campuses.The meetings took place with staffers from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hicknelooper and Reps. Crow, Perlmutter, Neguse, and DeGette.

Dr. Vik Bebarta MD; Colonel, USAF IMA, MC, Center Director of the CU Anschutz Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield (COMBAT) Research provided a brief overview of the CU COMBAT Research Center, which focuses on efforts to improve trauma care and battlefield medicine, and advocated for funding a line item in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) authorized by the last Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417) to support military trauma teams training in civilian academic medical centers. Dr. Bebarta met with staff from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper.

Cathy Bodine PhD, CCC-SLP, Director; and Maureen Melonis, MNS, CCC-SLP/L, Associate Director of the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE) (formally known as the Assistive Technology Clinic) updated congressional offices on the vital work they are doing at CIDE and raised awareness about the challenges that the center faces to help the community they serve. Meetings took place with staff from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Reps. Crow, Neguse, and DeGette. 

CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman met remotely with Congressman Crow to discuss FY22 Appropriations and campus priorities. 

Philip Makotyn, Executive Director of the CU Boulder CUbit Quantum Initiative met with staff from the offices of Senator Hickenlooper and Bennet to discuss JILA, quantum information science and restoring National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) extramural construction grants. 

Scott Lehman, Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and Director of Laboratory for AMS Radiocarbon Preparation and Research (NSRL), discussed the NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory and the FY22 budget request for NOAA with staff from the office of Rep. Neguse. 

Myron Gutmann, Director of CU Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) and Stefanie Mollborn, Interim Director of IBS, met with staff from the offices of Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper and Rep. Neguse to advocate for funding for social sciences as part of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) Social Science Advocacy Day. In their meetings, Drs. Gutmann and Mollborn offered to be a resource to policymakers as they address important issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and violence reduction. 

Dr. Jun Ye, Fellow of JILA, Fellow of NIST, and Professor of Physics Adjoint, head of the Ye Group at JILA, a joint institute of CU Boulder and NIST, highlighted the decades of NSF support for quantum information science research at CU Boulder, including the new NSF-funded, CU Boulder-led Q-SEnSE (Quantum Systems through Entangled Science and Engineering) institute, which he heads. Dr. Ye was joined by Maya Miklos, a graduate student researcher in JILA and recent recipient of a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from NSF. Dr. Ye and Ms. Miklos met with staff from the offices of Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper and Reps. Neguse, DeGette, and Perlmutter as part of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) virtual advocacy event in support of NSF. In their meetings they emphasized NSF’s outsized contributions in supporting fundamental science, as well as its role in training the next generation of scientists.

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