That was the directive from Colorado School of Mines President M.W. “Bill” Scoggins to a group of university staff, faculty, students and alumni who started working on a new campaign for private support four years ago.
President Scoggins didn’t want a new campaign to just market the existing school -- a highly respected science and engineering university in Colorado. He wanted a new strategy that would harness Mines’ assets and ambitions to transform the university into something larger: an engineering powerhouse on par with the best institutions in the world.
A tall order, for sure.
“Our vision has been to transform Mines into a top-tier research university, and we’re well on the way to achieving that goal,” said Scoggins, “and in terms of the students and faculty we attract, we want to become academically elite, but we do not want to become economically elite.”
Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Colorado School of Mines emerged from that process, and was officially launched at Mines Evening of Excellence September 27. It’s already doing just what President Scoggins envisioned.
The impact of this ambitious initiative can be seen as a burgeoning force throughout Mines, a new momentum, and it started with a keen analytical approach to growth.
“In university advancement, we are essentially brokers between what the university needs and what our donors’ interests are,” said Brian Winkelbauer, executive vice president for university advancement. “Our focus is on what will make a meaningful impact for Mines.”
What are those areas of interest and impact for donors?
More qualified scientists and engineers who will help tackle some of our greatest global challenges. That interest, it turns out, fits in nicely with President Scoggins’ vision.
How do you educate more qualified scientists and engineers?
It all starts with students – attracting the best and giving them the tools to succeed at a higher level.
We’re already seeing that happen, as incoming students arrive with ever higher GPAs and SAT scores. As it has done for 140 years, Mines continues to challenge those students with a rigorous and practice-based hands-on curriculum.
What’s new is a fuller, richer educational experience.
To offer an educational experience that’s not just valuable, but actually transformative, means a broad expansion of campus life.
“Students want to be part of a community,” Winkelbauer said. “Mines has put a lot of time and resources in creating the kind of robust campus environment that today’s students want to experience.”
That enhanced student experience means:
- Getting more involved in campus life. Mines’ acclaimed marching band, dynamic campus celebrations, long-lived traditions, and ever-expanding array of clubs and student organizations combine with unmatched leadership opportunities to make college life more fun and rewarding.
- Enlisting help with these crazy tough classes. Mines is unapologetic about its high academic standards, but the university never stops expanding efforts to help students get there. A new Center for Academic Services and Advising provides personal support and essential resources to help students succeed.
- Living on a cool campus. From a collection of scattered buildings, Mines has transformed into an amazing contiguous campus, which includes a state-of-the-art rec center, a pedestrian plaza at the heart of campus, and an impressive mix of contemporary and traditional architectures.
- Cheering for the home team. And Mines is giving students, faculty, staff and alumni more to cheer about than ever. The Clear Creek Athletics Complex, a state-of-the-art outdoor sports complex slated to be completed in 2015, will expand Mines’ winning athletics program, which has been consistently ranked among the top 25 NCAA Division II programs in the country. We continually prove that we don’t have to compromise academic standards to achieve greatness on our fields and courts.
- Working toward careers. An extraordinary number of Mines students get internships before they graduate, which helps explain why the university maintains a placement rate over 90 percent, and features sold out Career Day events every semester.
One of Mines’ greatest challenges remains making these tremendous opportunities available to the greatest minds around.
That’s why a central part of Transforming Lives
involves growing the school’s scholarship and fellowship funding
More than 80 percent of Mines students rely on some form of financial aid, and the ability to offer robust packages to graduate students helps Mines compete with peer institutions for the very best master’s and doctoral candidates.
Those behind Transforming Lives
believe the $3.6 million Mines provides in private scholarship support each year isn’t nearly enough. Not to make a Mines education available to the best and brightest. Not to ensure that all students can focus more on their school work than paying their bills.
More private support for scholarships and fellowships will help continue to raise the quality and diversity of students coming to Mines.
In conjunction with that student focus, we must also continue raising the level of the faculty, and the most powerful way to do that is to offer endowed professorships and chairs
. Such positions not only honor the star researchers and educators who hold them, they also provide essential support to enhance instruction, outreach and continuing professional growth and achievement.
“Last year, we started four new endowed positions,” Winkelbauer said. “That is unheard of for an institution our size. Our community is starting to realize the importance of this kind of funding that attracts the best and brightest faculty, which, in turn, attracts the best and brightest students.”
To fulfill its ambitious vision for the future, Mines must not only continue to build the quality of its faculty and students, it must become a true international educational destination.
Because Mines’ mission goes beyond making kids smarter. It’s about training them to tackle the most vital issues we face related to earth, energy and the environment, and those issues are global in scope. They intersect with public policy, sociology and economics, as well as the sciences.
To many institutions, a profound global reach might seem like a pipe dream. But Mines is already well on its way.
“Mines is very focused in areas that are important to this country and to the world in terms of the skills that our students gain and the types of problems they can address,” said Scoggins. “I see no shortage of need for those types of skills, and if anything, our global challenges will require more of our science and engineering expertise.”
Through ties with foreign universities, an expansive student-exchange program, far-flung research programs, and many corporate and governmental partnerships, Mines’ students and faculty are regularly making connections all over the world.
The university is constantly working to take this idea of transforming lives to the next level, with our students and faculty working with the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi on a new source for bio fuel and with Mines’ Humanitarian Engineering Program
to bring clean water to Lemraiveg, a small village in the Western Sahara Desert.
Mines continues to extend its reach every day, and not just geographically.
The university also offers programs that are engaging kids at the K - 12 level, building the pipeline by inspiring future generations to get into science and engineering at a young age.
THE POWER OF TRANSFORMATION
When you look at the culmination of improved faculty, higher-performing and better-supported students, modern facilities, ever-growing research, an upgraded student experience, and broader and deeper global reach, it’s easy to see why “Transforming Lives” has become more than a slogan at Mines.
It has become a call to arms.
It has re-energized our efforts to focus on the Herculean global challenges we face and address them with the most powerful tools on the planet.
“This university has made tremendous progress, but I believe its best years lie ahead,” said Scoggins. “We’ve grown a lot and have to make our way on our own more now than ever before. This campaign sets the stage for our ongoing success.”
Photography by Tom Cooper | Lightbox Images