By Presley Church
Kirsten Schuchman is CU Boulder’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Policy and Advocacy in the Office of Government and Community Engagement.
A Colorado Native, Kirsten Schuchman is visibly motivated to provide access to the University of Colorado’s research, scientific intellect, and opportunities to any and every Coloradan.
She serves the campus and its leadership in its work to strategically develop, drive, analyze and coordinate regional, state and federal government policy, as well as state outreach efforts, in partnership with the CU system office of government relations and other external partners. She advises and helps members of the campus navigate the legislative process and political world, and provides leadership on cross-campus efforts to increase civic engagement.
Prior to coming to CU Boulder, Schuchman received her master’s in higher education from the University of Michigan, and received a bachelor’s degree in Government and International Relations from the University of Virginia.
She has worked for the University of Colorado in some capacity for 20 years, now serving as the assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Policy and Advocacy. She says her work is two fold:
“to understand what’s going on, so that we can promote the amazing things going on at CU Boulder and tie them to public policy opportunities; but also to understand it, so that when bills are introduced, either at the state or federal level we know how to respond to them.”
When it comes to legislation on the state and federal level, Schuchman’s office assesses how CU will be affected and pursue lobbying efforts in the best interest of the university.
For example, the office is currently interested in budget requests to support rural outreach programs in the San Luis Valley And Fort Morgan areas to engage underrepresented students in higher education.
In addition to these affordability and accessibility efforts, Schuchman works closely with CU’s Chief Sustainability Officer to “develop and lead conversations about public policy initiatives’ in the climate arena.
In our politically diverse state, Schuchman mentions that a real challenge in her work is “[trying] to break down a political bias that keeps [people] from listening to research.” She is passionate about higher education and the individual opportunity it provides, but also in sharing “all the federal investment that’s been put into the higher education institutions into specifically research at [those] institutions.” Another challenge she shares about her job is simply understanding all of the things that are going on on campus and “understanding them to a level where you can help align and promote them with an opportunity,” whether that is in higher education at CU or in the policy world. For that very reason, the office of government and community outreach created a strategic outreach network on campus bringing together “different academic research and administrative units who do outreach in Colorado.”
That vision of collaboration across Colorado is an important part of the Colorado Local Science Engagement Network. One of Schuchman’s favorite parts about our group is our focus beyond the Denver-Metro area and front range of Colorado:
“[We have to] have conversations and build relationships in parts of Colorado that are different than the Front Range. If you are able to put politics aside, everyone cares about the same things: economic opportunity, clean air and water, and the future for their children.”
Schuchman sits alongside state senators, researchers, ecologists, economists, professors and more from across the state. The unbelievable wealth of knowledge on a variety of science, technological, and political topics on the CO-LSEN advisory board is something she values, inspired by the “devoted passionate people who want to do the right thing.” In the spirit of collaboration, Schuchman says,“ if I could help them achieve their goals in any small or large way, I would feel like I did my job.”
As an organization focused on bringing relevant science into policy decisions at local-state levels & building science-policy networks, we are so thankful for Kirsten Schuchman’s support on our advisory board as we navigate the scientific, academic, and political intricacies of our great state.