President Bruce Benson's newsletter

President's Newsletter

May 2016

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It's always good for us to take stock of the job we are doing. And while there are many facets to CU's operation to examine – our research enterprise, economic impact, contributions to communities, and health care work, among others – at the end of the day our success is measured by the success of our alumni.

This week we will undertake the first systemwide assessment of the careers of CU alumni. Graduates from all four of our campuses will receive an email link to a Web-based survey that we hope will provide us insight about life after CU. There is a tendency to overcomplicate surveys of this type, so we want to keep it simple.

We will ask alumni where they are in their careers, what they earn, and how their CU education helped them (or not). We're also asking them to think back to their job and what they earned one year after graduation. The latter has been a common part of surveys commissioned by the state in recent years.

Certainly the value of a CU education is not measured solely by earnings, but it is an important factor. A college education is an investment people make in themselves, and it's one that almost always pays a substantial dividend. Many studies show that graduates earn more, they have greater opportunities in life, they participate in community and civic life in greater numbers, and they are healthier and happier than those who don't earn a college degree.

There is a considerable push these days for universities to produce graduates who are workforce ready. Yet I know from personal experience and from talking with many CU alumni that the path people take in college and immediately after is not easily scripted.

For instance, I would never have predicted that my career would lead me to the presidency of my alma mater. I earned a geology degree in 1964 and built a successful company in that field. That allowed me to branch out into several business interests while also getting involved in civic and community endeavors, in addition to politics. Four Colorado governors appointed me to higher education reform or project panels. All of this combined to prepare me for the job I have had for the past eight years.

Many fields, such as medicine, engineering or law, send alumni down a relatively proscribed path. Others, particularly in the liberal arts, prepare graduates for a broad variety of endeavors.

Our survey aims to gauge the diversity of those experiences by asking how (or if) alumni's CU experience helped prepare them for their lives and careers. We will use the data as a baseline measure of the job we are doing in preparing graduates for the world.

The survey will help us quantify what we already know anecdotally: CU alumni are an accomplished bunch, making their marks in education, business, the arts, health care, engineering and dozens of careers in between. We know from our low loan default rates that our graduates get jobs, but this effort will give us a deeper understanding of the fields they are in.

The survey will be strictly confidential and will not be used for solicitation purposes. I know we ask you to participate in a number of CU surveys, so I appreciate your participation. Alumni should look for an email on Thursday that will take them to the survey. I will report back to you on the results in an upcoming issue of this newsletter.

For feedback, contact


Bruce Benson


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