April 19, 2024

Schwartz to replace DiStefano as CU Boulder chancellor

BOULDER — Justin Schwartz, executive vice president and provost at Pennsylvania State University, will take the reins from Phil DiStefano as chancellor of the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus on July 1, CU President Todd Saliman said Friday.

CU’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a three-year contract for Schwartz, who has more than 30 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member, dean and executive administrator.

Justin Schwartz. Courtesy: Glenn J. Asakawa/University of Colorado.

DiStefano, who last September announced his plans to retire after nearly 15 years in the role and a half century on campus, will return to the faculty in the School of Education, where he began his CU Boulder career in 1974, and will become senior executive director of CU Boulder’s Center for Leadership. Earlier this week, DiStefano was named to the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame’s 2024 class and will be inducted in September, and last year he received the Boulder Chamber’s Frannie Reich Lifetime Achievement Award.


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“We were in a strong position to recruit an excellent new chancellor because CU Boulder has thrived under Phil’s leadership,” Saliman said in a prepared statement. “I am deeply grateful.”

Before his latest roles at Penn State, Schwartz was dean of engineering there. He came to Mount Nittany in 2017 from North Carolina State University, where he was a professor and department head for materials science and engineering for eight years. From 1993 to 2009, Schwartz held faculty positions at Florida State University, including serving as a professor of engineering and senior research adviser to the vice president for research. He began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in 1990 after earning a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering there and a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“CU Boulder will have a dynamic new leader with an outstanding vision who will build upon an impressive foundation already in place. He appreciates our deeply held commitment to our mission of serving Colorado, Coloradans and society,” Saliman said. “Justin had engaging discussions at forums with students, faculty, staff and community groups during his CU Boulder campus visit. With every group, the conversations demonstrated his knowledge of the opportunities and challenges on the horizon for the institution. The feedback from forums was overwhelmingly positive.”

Saliman named Schwartz as the finalist for the position on April 2. Since then, he participated in open forums on the campus with faculty, staff, students and the community.

Friday’s announcement followed a search process that began last November. The chancellor search committee was chaired by Danielle Radovich Piper, CU’s senior vice president for external relations and strategy, and included 21 members, 13 of whom were from the CU Boulder campus community with the remainder closely connected to CU. The university engaged AGB Search to assist in recruiting, interviewing and advancing a qualified and diverse pool of candidates.

“It is an incredible honor to serve the University of Colorado, our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the people across our state,” said Schwartz in a prepared statement. “CU has incredible momentum, and we will carry the torch into a new era for the institution, elevating every aspect of our university. It was clear throughout my conversations with members of the search committee and my engagements during my public visit that the CU community has a deep passion for the university, the city of Boulder and the state of Colorado. I am thrilled to be a part of all with my family.”

Saliman’s full announcement, Schwartz’s curriculum vitae and the search committee composition are online.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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