End of an era: One-on-one with retiring UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak

COLORADO SPRINGS – It’s the end of an era at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Doctor Pam Shockley-Zalabak is retiring as chancellor on February 15th, after more than 40 years on campus.

News5’s Rob Quirk talked with Dr. Shockley-Zalabak about her legacy and the future of a university that is one of the fastest growing in Colorado.

“It’s so exciting. I will always be a supporter of UCCS, but it’s time for a new ‘face of the franchise,'” said Dr. Shockley-Zalabak.

“First one in, last one out” is how one colleague describes the typical day for the chancellor. She sometimes works seven days a week while continuing to teach.

She started out as a part time honorary instructor on the rise to chancellor.

Dr. Shockley-Zalabak has dedicated more than half her life to UCCS, which at its core, she said, was founded on the idea of being a partner with this community. Focusing on a mission of economic, social and cultural inclusion that will endure.

“But that’s the higher education institution of the future, to really connect with community, connect to important issues such as cyber security, such as health and wellness, or for example, the military in this region. We obviously need to be a strong partner,” she explained.

Back in 1977, UCCS was essentially just two buildings. Now the campus has about 12-thousand students. The biggest challenge moving forward according to the chancellor is making higher education not only accessible but affordable.

“The challenge is to get enough financial aid, both philanthropic, institutional and in some cases federal, so that students can have access.”

As for her future? She’s looking into organizational consulting and writing another book. At her core, she is a journalist, who wants to focus, in part, on the media culture we live in, but also precious, constitutionally protected rights of free speech, which have been an integral part of her stewardship at UCCS.

“I don’t think we need to be dissuaded from the importance of academic freedom and free speech, but we need to understand how we can better make clear what that really means from a public point of view.”

An interim chancellor has been named, and the search is underway for a full time replacement.