Dear Colleagues:

Happy 2017!  Welcome back to campus for our Spring 2017 semester. I hope that you had a great holiday break. Spring is always exciting because of E-Days, the ever-changing weather and potential for snow days, and of course our big graduation ceremony in May. This semester has a new feature — the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Because of that and the creativity of our Calendar Committee, this first week Tuesday is Monday, Wednesday is Wednesday, and Thursday is Tuesday. Elyse didn’t believe me when I tried to explain that schedule to her, and the president of another Colorado university said to me last week, “Only Mines students are smart enough to figure that one out.”  I’ll be testing that hypothesis when I see how many of my M/W 7:30 a.m. class students show up Tuesday morning.

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a couple of leadership updates:

Provost: Based on a discussion with interim Provost Tom Boyd, the Faculty Senate and other campus input, Tom will be continuing as “iProvost” for another 12–18 months. We will initiate a Provost search in AY2017–18 and Tom has agreed to continue to lead our academic mission until the new Provost is on board.

Tom is currently engaged with and leading many of the strategic initiatives critical to positioning Mines for future success and sustainability, including developing productivity guidelines for our academic units, incentivizing and supporting innovation and change, increasing the sophistication and success of our student recruitment efforts, and ensuring that our centralized resources are supporting the academic mission. The goal is to complete some of those changes before bringing our next Provost on board. Tom is also making changes in the Provost’s Office to align it with our future vision for the mission of that office:

  1. advancement of our academic programs and evolution of the faculty,
  2. maturation of a more broadly connected and less vertically-focused culture, with expanded degree program opportunities,
  3. growth in non-thesis graduate programs and professional education, and distance education options, and
  4. ensuring that centralized functions and resources are effectively supporting our academic mission (e.g., admissions, financial aid, registrar, library, Trefny Center, etc.)

Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer (VPRTT): Tony Dean has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the spring semester.

This provides us with an opportunity to reimagine the Mines VPRTT Office and ensure that it is positioned to best support the innovation and creativity of our faculty, growth and impact of our research enterprise, and promotion of Mines research portfolio.

Individual faculty and the Faculty Senate have already reached out to discuss and I will be gathering input from our research-active faculty. To address the most-frequently asked question— yes, we will conduct an open search for the position and will consider internal and external candidates. That search will likely be formally announced in February.

One change is that the VPRTT will be structured as a rotating position with a one-term 3–5 year appointment, much like leadership positions in some funding agencies. We will provide time/support for the VPRTT to continue their individual research activities and some level of teaching while serving as VPRTT. This allows faculty to take a leadership sabbatical of sorts, advance institutional initiatives that they are personally passionate about, and return successfully to the best job in the world when they are done.

Board of Trustees: We have three new incoming members to the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees, including Dr. Terri Hogue (faculty representative), Charlie McNeil (B.S. CSM ’71) and Jesus Salazar (B.S. CSM ’01, M.S. CSM ’02). Trustee Tim Haddon was reappointed by the Governor and Jim Spaanstra and Fran Vallejo rotated off.

Strategic Plan and Priorities for 2017:  We are continuing our university design exercise and making changes as we go, with emphasis on a number of issues of interest to our community and the state legislature, including growing and fully utilizing our capacity to deliver on our mission, increasing access to and attainment of a Mines degree, and diversifying and expanding our resources.

We will be discussing these more this semester in various forums. If you have thoughts or an interest in being an active participant, please let me know.

Best wishes for a fantastic Spring 2017. Go Orediggers!


Paul C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor and President
Colorado School of Mines