UCCS first day
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Students play corn hole during a welcome party on the first day of classes at UCCS on Monday, August 20, 2018. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

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At a time when many other universities are stagnant or declining in enrollment, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs has found ways to continue to grow. “It’s a testament to our leadership’s vision and all of the people it takes to implement that vision. It’s definitely something to be proud of,” said Megann Murphy, associate director of event services.

Since its founding in 1964, when Gov. John Arthur Love signed legislation allowing the University of Colorado to assume custody of 80 acres of the Cragmor Sanatorium at the cost of only one dollar, UCCS has remained dedicated to its staff of 1,600, its students and the Pikes Peak community.

“UCCS is proud to be a valuable contributor to the Colorado Springs community,” said Anja Wynne, chief human resources officer. “The workforce pulls together to share ideas and respects one another’s opinions. We are all involved in teaching and mentoring students, through our expertise and experiences. I appreciate that as we grow larger, we still maintain our close connections, while also welcoming our new employees to the Mountain Lion community.”

“We seek to engage employees and students throughout the community,” said Stephen Cucchiara, director of student activities and community service. Along with a Civic Engagement and Community Service Office that offers opportunities to students in Colorado Springs and voter registration drives, the university also provides time for employees to volunteer in the community without having to take vacation or unpaid leave.

“The university values the importance of community involvement, and seeks out innovative and new ways of engaging faculty, staff and students in a beneficial way that supports our surrounding community,” said Cucchiara.

Over the last five years, UCCS has pursued avenues to support the growth of its staff; from enrichment programs to workshops and a professional development grant that allows employees to apply for funding to cover costs for conference fees and similar programming.

“Supervisors and leadership of departments continue to restructure their budgets to help support staff member development with an emphasis on internal initiatives,” said Cucchiara. “This also includes publishing and presenting at regional and national conferences. I personally have never worked at a university that is focused on helping their employees grow. This, in turn, has increased the retention of faculty and staff.”

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCCS’s online MBA as one of 50 best programs in the nation, and No. 1 in Colorado.

“I am pleased to say that the UCCS environment attracts faculty and staff for lifelong careers,” said Wynne. “Each year we recognize employees who have been on campus for five or more years, and it is amazing how many have reached 25 to 30 years of service. We are nationally and locally recognized as one of the best universities to work for, which is helping our recruitment efforts.”

To further demonstrate its commitment to the staff of UCCS, the university started offering a paid parental leave program in 2018 for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. “After researching other Front Range organizations, we found that UCCS is leading the workforce with this benefit,” said Wynne.

The Human Resources Department also released a service in conjunction with CU called “Real Help Hotline.”

“It helps mitigate some of the life stressors that face faculty and staff from financial issues, relationship challenges, mental health crises and more,” said Cucchiara.

In conjunction with its HR programs, senior leadership at UCCS conducted a study to assess the feasibility of implementing university-wide winter closure by December 2019.

“This would create a mandated break for all university faculty and staff, something that many businesses and universities do not have,” said Cucchiara.

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