Philip Distefano
News & Media

Philip P. DiStefano

What’s your favorite university tradition? In December, for the past 75 years, our College of Music has thrilled audiences and ushered in the beginning of the holiday season with the Holiday Festival. Our students and faculty have performed works ranging from traditional Christmas carols to songs sung during Hanukkah to songs that mark the celebration of Kwanzaa. The most performed work over the past 75 years has been “Silent Night” followed closely by Handel’s “Messiah.”

What experiences best prepared you to lead a public research university? Being at one university for my whole academic career best prepared me for the Chancellor’s position at the University of Colorado Boulder. Starting as an assistant professor in 1974 and moving into administrative roles as a dean, vice chancellor, provost, and chancellor for the past 11 years gave me the experiences to become chancellor. I realize that most presidents and chancellors have been at multiple universities, but I would not trade the various experiences that I have had at one university.

If you could go back and give yourself advice on the first day of you job as a university president/chancellor, what would you say? The advice that I would give myself is quite simple. Follow the 4 H’s: Honesty, Humility, Humor, and Hope.

If you could travel to one place you’ve never visited, where would it be and why? The one trip on my bucket list is to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia. Attending college in the 60’s and 70’s during the Vietnam War was a life-changing experience for me. I would like to visit those countries to pay tribute to the many soldiers and civilians who lost their lives for their country.

What is the last concert you attended? Dead & Company, the Grateful Dead offshoot, played on CU Boulder’s campus for the past three summers, excluding this one.

What was the last thing you cooked or baked? I don’t cook or bake very much except on Christmas Eve. My Italian parents and grandparents always followed an Italian tradition of cooking seven different fish on Christmas Eve. My family has followed that tradition and include many of our friends. So, my wife and I begin in the morning of Christmas Eve preparing the different fish such as: calamari, clams, shrimp, Italian tuna, crab, sole, and scallops.