CU Engagement Builds Relationships that Meet the State’s Needs

Emily sits down for a chat with Tony.

Tony Salazar

Engagement at the University of Colorado is a priority that covers vast areas, ranging from enrollment and learning opportunities, to fundraising and building relationships with diverse communities. CU on the Air host Emily Davies talks to Assistant Vice President for Engagement Tony Salazar about the many facets and the importance of building sustainable relationships that reach every corner of Colorado.

  • There have been engagement outreach staff at the campus level – which look a little different based on the campus needs – and in fall 2019, Salazar became that person at the system office.
  • The role touches upon legislative relations, enrollment, research collaborations, internship and learning opportunities for students, fostering experiential employment opportunities and even fundraising.
  • The campuses are doing great work; Salazar’s role provides some new relationships, opportunities for campuses to utilize from the system level.
  • The upcoming tours with CU President Todd Saliman and members of the CU Board of regents will be focused on bringing CU to stakeholders across the state. The tours offer a chance to better understand what the state’s citizens’ needs are, what their issues are on their turf and as President Saliman says, will “Listen and listen some more.”
  • Part of engagement is education: One of the perceptions that CU would like to allay is that CU = CU Boulder. CU has four campuses – including the flagship at Boulder, CU Colorado Springs, CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus – all of which have something for every college student.
  • The regents represent the entire State of Colorado and outreach tours enable them to understand and appreciate the needs and the wants of constituents across the state.
  • CU has worked very hard to contain costs for students and for families. People often don’t realize that CU is the 48th funded state when it comes to state higher ed funding in the nation.
  • For students and families that make below $60,000 a year, CU is probably most affordable to go to across the State of Colorado because they are more likely to get more aid and tuition assistance there than they are in any other university in the state of Colorado.
  • CU Boulder has a tuition fee guarantee, so families and students will know what they have to pay for the next four years, as long as they finish on time.
  • There is a misperception that CU is “too liberal” to reflect the state’s values as a whole. However, the campuses reflect the communities they serve: UCCS has a large veteran presence and embodies the community’s philosophies.
  • Celebrating CU Denver, which is now a majority minority-serving campus now. Over half the students are students of color. It was also recently named a Hispanic-serving institution and AANAPISI institution, which serves Asian and Pacific Islander students.
  • In fall of 2019, CU regents and Government Relations met with the Southern Ute tribe, heard some of the concerns and some of the needs of the indigenous people down in that part of the state and through this connection, Senate Bill 29 passed. It offers in-state tuition for American students from tribes with historical ties to Colorado.
  • The importance of building trust in CU by having an ongoing dialogue and relationship with the people and across the State of Colorado to know that CU is here to help serve their needs.
  • Engagement during a pandemic. What does that look like? What were the eventual workarounds? Well, Zoom, of course. It also familiarized the engagement efforts with the technology to see the individuals across the state that they’re speaking to.
  • Salazar’s role is to make sure that the university is a resource to foster effective connections with the diverse communities. The Latino community was hardest hit during the pandemic, so CU is being responsive to that.
  • CU’s expanding efforts to recruit and retain diverse students, faculty and staff. As we look at our student population changing, we also need to look at our professors, our faculty, and the people who support those students changing as well.
  • In support of those efforts, CU brought in its first chief diversity officer, Theodosia Cook, who has been here now for a little over a year.
  • Stakeholders Salazar is involved with include being on a chamber of commerce board in the South Metro area, the Fitzsimons Innovation Community Board and, on his own time, he’s the Board President for the Latin American Educational Foundation.
  • Through the engagement budget, CU supports organizations that have a direct impact on students and on diverse communities in Colorado.
  • Looking to the future, Salazar is eager to get more involved with the veterans community to fully realize how CU can support those individuals and their families.
  • Want to talk outreach and engagement? Call Tony Salazar at 720-745-2122 or email him at