2016 in the Colorado Springs Area: A look back

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Chancellor Pam Shockley Zalabak attends a meeting on campus Tuesday afternoon, March 17, 2015, after rushing back early Tuesday morning from the school women's basketball NCAA Division II playoff game in Texas late Monday night. Zalabak earned the humanitarian award for the Red Cross Hometown Heros for her leadership at the unversity and her efforts to improve the lives of the elderly in our community. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for the past 15 years, ranks among a handful of community leaders disproportionately responsible for the economic and cultural resurgence of Colorado Springs.

CU President Bruce Benson announced Shockley-Zalabak's retirement Friday, effective Feb. 15. Venkat Reddy, dean of the UCCS College of Business, will serve as interim chancellor while the university searches for Shockley-Zalabak's permanent replacement.

We're not sure why the chancellor has chosen this time to retire, but know she will be a tough act to follow. We hope she stays around and continues helping our community prosper.

When Shockley-Zalabak stepped in as interim chancellor in 2001, obtaining a permanent appointment in 2002, UCCS was a sleepy satellite campus. Today, it is a bustling destination university with a branch of the CU's medical school, new dormitories and other and capital investments. It is no more an ancillary of CU-Boulder than UCLA is an appendage of California-Berkeley.

U.S. News & World Report ranks UCCS among the West's top regional research universities. As one of the fastest-growing campuses in the country, the institution's future has few limits.

The university's success has been an essential ingredient to the region's economic development. High-tech companies and other high-wage employers are attracted to communities with solid and diverse educational institutions, such as UCCS.

Shockley-Zalabak helped Gov. John Hickenlooper, Mayor John Suthers and others launch the National Cybersecurity Center, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that provides collaborative cybersecurity knowledge and services to the rest of the country.

We have frequently spotlighted Shockley-Zalabak's role in reversing the downward trajectory of the Colorado Springs Airport, as part of an airport "dream team" appointed by former Mayor Steve Bach.

We could go on, but suffice to say Shockley-Zalabak has risen to the occasion for UCCS and Colorado Springs whenever called upon.

We don't know what the future holds for the retiring chancellor, but if she stays around these parts we're certain her endeavors will benefit the public. Thank you chancellor, for all you have done.

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