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The Jordan legacy: Building the brand

By Doug McPherson

May 17, 2017

As MSU Denver’s builds its brand, the public is getting a greater sense of what the University stands for and its significance in the community. The University is featuring successful MSU Denver alumni on billboards (see image above), bus shelter displays and light rail wraps as part of a current marketing campaign.
As MSU Denver’s builds its brand, the public is getting a greater sense of what the University stands for and its significance in the community. The University is featuring successful MSU Denver alumni on billboards (see image above), bus shelter displays and light rail wraps as part of a current marketing campaign.

President Stephen Jordan has built a track record of preeminence from 12 years at the helm of MSU Denver. To honor his legacy, we’re taking a weekly look at some of the key ways he’s transformed the University for the better.

It’s one thing for a university to simply exist and serve students. But it’s entirely another thing for the public to have a sense of what that university truly stands for and appreciate its significance in the community and beyond.

When MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan took the University’s reins in 2005, he knew that appreciation from the public was a must before he could grow the school toward his goal of making it the nation’s preeminent public urban university.

And by practically all measures, he’s made good on that effort – very good. In fact, MSU Denver’s most recent brand audit found that the University’s brand perception has grown from an average of 70 percent positive in 2013 to 76 percent positive in 2016. Respondents were students, alumni, faculty, staff and local business leaders.

The findings showed current students were very positive about the institution. Alumni were extremely positive, indicating that their degrees are transferring well to the workplace.

“This was a favorable set of findings,” says Kevin Raines, CEO of Corona Insights, the company that oversaw the brand audit. “To me, the fact that the University’s reputation continues to rise among all key audiences is very affirming.”

Cathy Lucas, chief of staff and associate to the president for marketing and communications, says Dr. Jordan is the main reason for that rise.

“Over the years, Dr. Jordan has been our head brand champion; he’s made spreading the word about this place one of his top priorities,” Lucas says. “The initiatives he’s spearheaded have continued to build our brand.”

Construction visitors view the campus and downtown Denver from the top of the new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, which is a palpable example of the University building its brand through public-private partnerships and supplying local industries with a specialized college-educated workforce.
Construction visitors view the campus and downtown Denver from the top of the new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, which is a palpable example of the University building its brand through public-private partnerships and supplying local industries with a specialized college-educated workforce.


Some of those initiatives include MSU Denver’s 50th anniversary campaign, which showcased a detailed historical timeline and photos, profiles of notable alumni, events, along with TV ads featuring high-profile alumni like: Tyrone Braxton (MSW ’14), former Denver Bronco and clinical case manager; Rowena Alegria (B.A. Spanish ’91), senior adviser for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; and Joe Rice (B.A. history ’89), director of government relations at Lockheed Martin.

The TV ads were reinforced by billboards, bus shelter displays and light rail wraps featuring additional MSU Denver successful alumni.

But Lucas says the brand Dr. Jordan built is much larger than just the messages – it reflects the institution’s choices, outcomes and identity. Specifically, Lucas says Dr. Jordan’s efforts in building the brand have led to:

  • The transformation from a college to a university
  • More offerings, including master’s degrees
  • Improved public-private partnerships, which brought the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building
  • Special tuition rates for undocumented students

Lucas says Dr. Jordan’s work in brand building has given the University a momentum it will parlay into continued growth and vitality.

“It will be a sad day when Dr. Jordan leaves, but he and everyone who believes in the power of higher education can rest assured that his work will keep us moving forward and toward the goal of preeminence,” she says.

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