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Interim UCCS chancellor using his experience to give back to campus

March 27, 2017 Updated: March 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm
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UCCS Interim Chancellor Venkat Reddy is 25 year member of UCCS faculty. In Aug. 2014, he was promoted to associate vice chancellor for online programs in the Division of Academic Affairs while continuing to serve as dean of the College of Business.

Venkat Reddy changed offices last month, moving one building to the east on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

In some ways the short move represented a seismic leap, from being dean of the College of Business and associate vice chancellor for online studies to becoming interim chancellor in charge of the entire campus of about 12,000 students and 3,230 employees.

"The job is more complex, but I have good people around me all working toward a common vision," Reddy said.

In other ways, he's been preparing for the role for decades.

Reddy has worked at UCCS for 25 years, half of that leading the business school. He's also had a primary hand in developing online programs. Both have enabled him to work with business leaders, trade groups and nonprofit organizations in the community.

UCCS Interim Chancellor Venkat Reddy is 25 year member of UCCS faculty. In Aug. 2014, he was promoted to associate vice chancellor for online programs in the Division of Academic Affairs while continuing to serve as dean of the College of Business. 

"I thought the campus has done so much for me in the last 25 years, here's my opportunity to give back and use my experience to serve the campus in this capacity," he said. "This is much more than a job; it's an opportunity to make a difference."

Pam Shockley-Zalabak, who began teaching at UCCS in 1976 and had been chancellor for the past 15 years, retired Feb. 15.

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson appointed Reddy as the interim.

Reddy said he's not replacing Shockley-Zalabak, who built a reputation throughout the community as a respected and influential leader.

"It's hard to replace someone like Pam; it's our job to continue the momentum she created and moving the campus in a positive trajectory."

Reddy's Ph.D. in finance and undergraduate work in agriculture have served him well in his new position.

He's working on several finance models for strategic planning, as well as next year's budget.

There are many other tasks to oversee and attend to, including finishing projects that are in the works. A visual and performing arts center under construction on North Nevada Avenue is on schedule to open in January, Reddy said. Program planning is underway.

Planning also is happening for a sports medicine and performance center, which is scheduled to start construction next year on the redeveloped North Nevada Avenue.

A national cybersecurity initiative in Colorado Springs is taking shape to create educational programs to fill jobs in the growing industry.

Reddy also is involved with advancing a partnership among UCCS, Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College and the Air Force Academy to keep graduates in town and contributing to the community.

"This is a happening place," Reddy said. "There is a lot to be accomplished. I'm energized every day."

The search for a new chancellor is "moving along well," said Ken McConnellogue, CU system spokesman.

The application deadline is March 31.

"We've had interest from across the country, and certainly in the state and region," McConnellogue said.

Finalists are expected to visit the campus by the end of April. Benson has said his goal is to hire someone by the end of this academic year.

Reddy said he's "very carefully evaluating whether to apply" for the position.

"I'm giving it a lot of consideration," Reddy said. "The position is not about the individual but the future of the campus. That's what we need to shoot for."

UCCS is at an interesting crossroads, he said, with one-third of its students being first-generation, meaning they are the first in their family to attend college. One-third of the student body also is low-income and in need of financial aid.

"Our mission is to provide access to education for everyone and see that all students are successful," Reddy said.

One of the major challenges: in the face of continued state funding cuts to higher education, finding ways to keep employee compensation fair and tuition affordable so it's possible for all students to have the chance to earn a college degree.

"I know we're making a difference in many lives through our research, education and services," Reddy said. "I've seen the campus grow into what it is today, and I don't see it slowing down.

"We are here to serve our community."

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