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Graduate School Dean Engelke to Retire Next Year

Chancellor Elliman: Engelke skillfully guided the Graduate School through growth and change, left lasting impact

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What You Need To Know

CU Anschutz leadership announced that David Engelke, dean of the Graduate School, will retire at the start of 2023. A search committee for his successor is being formed.

David Engelke, PhD, dean of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School, announced today that he will retire in January. 

Following a distinguished 30-year career at the University of Michigan, Engelke was appointed dean of the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz campuses in September 2015. He also held concurrent roles as a professor of chemistry and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, as well as serving as a member of the RNA Bioscience Initiative advisory committee.

“As we prepare to send Dean Engelke off to embark on his next chapter, we do so with tremendous gratitude for all that he made possible during his leadership of the Graduate School,” said CU Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor Don Elliman, who announced the retirement alongside Roderick Nairn, PhD, executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

“He skillfully navigated the school through many years of growth and change, and he has no doubt made a lasting impact on many graduate students and trainees during his time with the university,” Elliman said. “We are deeply appreciative of his work to strengthen our graduate programs and elevate the visibility of our school.”

“Dean Engelke has served the Graduate School with great dedication and vision,” Nairn said. “His extraordinary contributions over the course of his tenure leave our school well-positioned for the future, and we count ourselves very fortunate to have had a leader of his caliber at the helm these past seven years. We are grateful to Dave for his service, and we wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Campus leadership announced a search committee will be formed in the near future to find Engelke’s successor. The committee will be chaired by Vice Chancellor for Research Thomas Flaig, MD. 

A career rooted in partnership and teamwork

Reflecting on his career and what brought him to Colorado, Engelke said the move was the right fit at the right time – both personally and professionally. Specifically, he pointed to the opportunity to collaboratively build on CU Anschutz’s strengths, including the areas of biomedical doctoral training, career development and broader recruiting efforts, especially among students from traditionally underserved populations. 

Now nearing the end of his tenure as dean, Engelke said that same collaborative spirit today is what fills him with the most pride. “The team has turned this campus into a national power in biomedical PhD and postdoctoral training and continues to do so. It really is remarkable,” he said.

“We've gone from being ranked somewhere in the 20s to being ranked more between ninth and 15th, depending on how you look at the data. That strong rise in the strength and reputation of biomedical training on the CU Anschutz campus isn’t just the Graduate School team – it’s that team working with the increasingly large and strong graduate faculty. Those relationships have been essential.”

Engelke said he is also proud of the Graduate School’s strong foundation in helping students and postdocs navigate changing career fields, as academics and the health science industry continue to expand and evolve. 

“Over the last five to 10 years, for example,” Engelke said, “we've gone from knowledge and skills in bioinformatics being useful to a subset of students, to being useful for everyone. And the ties between basic research and the clinic have also become much stronger. So an institution like CU Anschutz, which emphasizes close collaboration, is incredibly beneficial to the students and the postdocs. That’s one thing that’s very satisfying about what the Graduate School does: We often help students and postdocs solve personal and professional problems that seem to be without solution.”  

But for now, Engelke said he is looking forward to more travel time with his wife. And between trips to visit friends and family – especially his granddaughter – he’s looking forward to spending time on new hobbies. 

“I've been quizzing some of my relatively newly retired colleagues as to what they developed once they had the time,'' he said with a laugh. “Everybody has developed a different set of interests, which I'm carefully lining up and deciding whether I might try them.”

Topics: Education