Category Archives: NASPA exchange 2015

Last stop on the exchange tour

The AMOSSHE exchange team

The AMOSSHE exchange team

For the last day of the NASPA exchange the group visited two contrasting institutions: Colorado College, which is a private university, and Pikes Peak Community College, which is akin to a UK further education college.

Colorado College is a private liberal arts college, established in 1874 as a coeducational institution two years before Colorado became a state. It costs $60,000 per year to come here, and 2,500 students do so every year. They teach on a unique block plan (details here:

They also have half blocks where students attend non-credit bearing courses. A lot of these are run in conjunction with Student Affairs and Faculty. Orientation lasts one week, but for three days of that student go off campus into the wilderness, led by third year students. This is all about developing communication, relationships and leadership skills. The team were told that each new student comes back from these trips with nine best friends and two mentors as the groups bond.

Developing leadership skills is a critical part of the Colorado College ethos. They run an outdoor education programme that students undertake, and once trained lead other students. Students have to self-assess, are peer assessed and then are assessed by their instructor. It’s designed to develop character skills, problem solving and critical thinking.

Wellbeing, diversity and community are also taught in the half blocks, and student are trained to deliver these programmes. A good example is this:

Pikes Peak is a very different institution, offering lots of vocational and technical programmes. They work closely with UCCS in transferring students to university and are able to adapt to offer the courses required to meet the skill set that local businesses require.

Colorado Springs is one of only two places in the USA to have a US airforce academy, community college, state funded university and a private university.

Pikes Peak runs orientation daily through the summer with the focus on ‘what do you need to know to be able to stay in college?’ The team were only at Pikes Peak for less than two hours, but heard how they use different teams to work together to stimulate new ideas and provide seamless support.

It has been a very busy week but the exchange team’s hosts have all been fantastic in giving up their time and sharing their wisdom. Now they all need a few days to catch up on some sleep and reflect on what they’ve experienced. The team will be discussing the relevant points at ALL CHANGE, the AMOSSHE conference.

The exchange team and hosts

The exchange team and hosts

Thanks to AMOSSHE and NASPA for organising, and a huge thanks to all the people who gave up their time at the host institutions. Thanks to Colorado State University, Colorado University Boulder, Metropolitan State University, Colorado University Denver, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.

It was an inspiring trip, and the team feel that they have grown hugely both professionally and personally as a result.

Attainment in Colorado Springs

The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) was our exchange team’s generous host yesterday. Of all the campuses the team have seen, this one felt most like a university in the UK. It is a 11,500 student campus institution that overlooks the city of Colorado Springs and has the magnificent Rocky Mountains in view. UCCS has grown by 45% in the last 10 years and has done what most UK higher education institutions want to do, and that is eliminate the BME attainment gap.

UCCSThis is down to some innovative support programmes, strong leadership and great collaboration between academic and support staff. We met with the Chancellor who was inspiring, telling us that success is down to “faculty who teach well and who care about their students” and that, when students see possibilities they did not even know were there, they work harder. UCCS do a lot of work with widening participation.

Part of their success is that they employ a lot (1,400) students to do jobs on campus. Whilst not the most efficient model, UCCS are committed to employing students, as it strengthens belonging and community and helps their students develop leadership skills. The single biggest predictor of whether a student will graduate is if they have a job on campus.

Mountain Lion Connect

This is a system UCCS have bought (orgsync) to track student involvement in social and extra-curricular activities. Students swipe their card when they attend a student meeting, go to an event, or take an extra-curricular course. This is a cloud-based system but it allows UCCS to track engagement and act accordingly if extra help needs to be offered. It is also a co-curricular transcript for the student (similar to HEAR). They are also now working with faculty to track academic engagement using the same system.

Gateway Program Seminars

This is a series of programmes designed to help first year students succeed in university life. Once again we heard how students on scholarships are mandated to do these extra courses to help them develop resilience and the higher education social skills they may lack but it is open to all and provides students with extra credits.


This is their leadership programme, which is open to all and has proved very popular across all academic areas. The four components are Training, Academic Coursework, Mentoring (by a staff member or a community leader) and Experience (akin to a placement but leading one of the 160 societies on campus helps). Again this is very collaborative with both academic and student support staff delivering the programme.

Pitch on the roof

Pitch on the roof

The exchange team also saw their sports pitch built on top of their new car park, which is an innovative use of space, heard that they are developing a Wellness Centre with health, counselling, nutrition and health promotion moving to their Recreation Centre (sports centre), and we all simulated an exercise where we ‘took down’ a gunman. The critical incident training that students can choose to do no longer says negotiate, but if running and hiding do not work then tackling the danger / taking action as a group is the best tactic to save lives.

Discovering Denver

MSU Denver

The exchange team and Erin, one of their student guides at MSU Denver


Shared campus at Denver

Yesterday’s stop on the AMOSSHE / NAPSA exchange tour was Denver, where the University of Colorado, Denver, MSU Denver and the Community College of Denver share a campus.

Here are some key things the team learned in Denver.

Title IX

US universities must work within a piece of legislation developed to tackle sexual discrimination and promote gender equality on campus. Title IX is a federal mandate barring the discrimination of anyone in an educational setting based on their gender. It requires universities to have a procedure for investigating allegations of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and stalking, alongside any police investigations with a view to establishing whether the student code of conduct has been broken and to take any necessary action. University investigations must be complete inside 60 days, regardless of the progress of the police investigation.

Behavioural Intervention Teams

The exchange team have heard a couple of times about behavioural intervention teams. These teams seem to be common in US universities and adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying and supporting students at risk. They meet weekly, have case conference discussions and oversee any support packages which have been put in place.

Data analytics

Having a data manager in the Student Services team seems common in US universities. Considering a range of student data from the beginning to the end of the student journey and using a range of methods such as data analysis and customer journey mapping, their aim is to identify the real lived experience of the student, through moments of truth and impacts on the student or the university. Ultimately they look to identify opportunities to improve all of their student support services, which can be evidenced by sound data, thereby supporting and strengthening any budgetary requests.

More about CU Denver

CU Denver

The exchange team with CU Denver colleagues

The University of Colorado, Denver (CU Denver) is a diverse teaching and learning community that creates, discovers and applies knowledge to improve the health and wellbeing of Colorado and the world. The CU Denver campus is located in downtown Denver, and was founded in 1912 as an extension to the Boulder campus. It gained independence in 1973.

In summer 2004, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted to combine the Anschutz Medical Campus with its Denver campus. The impetus was the university’s vision of creating a “21st Century” university that facilitates multidisciplinary learning and research and focuses on excellence in urban research and in health sciences care and research. In 2009, after reviewing the progress of the consolidation, the Regents voted unanimously to affirm its decision to consolidate the two campuses under the name University of Colorado Denver.

CU Denver has eight schools and colleges and 90 degree programs, and awards more master’s degrees than any other public institution in the state. CU Denver offers students extensive business, professional and cultural opportunities. Anschutz integrates patient care, research and education in one of the nation’s newest health sciences cities.

University wide, awards to students for academic excellence include seven Marshall Scholarships, 79 Fulbright Fellowships, 19 Rhodes Scholars, nine Truman Scholarships, 27 Goldwater Scholarships and seven Udall Scholarships.

Student life

CU Denver

CU Denver mascot

Campus life Student Services provides a load of different services both at Denver and Anschutz.

At CU Denver the Office of Student Life promotes student growth through involvement and leadership. Services include a Womens’ Resource Centre, Careers, peer mentoring, and Spring Fling and Fall Fest  – “signature events showcasing student clubs and offices, and businesses from Denver and the surrounding area”.

At CU Anschutz, the Office of Campus Student Services shares some services with CU Denver, including Accommodation, Student Services and Disability Resources. Anschutz also has a Health and Wellness centre.