The first word
Passing the torch.
Publish Date: November 11, 2016
As some of you may have heard already, I announced my decision to retire from MSU Denver effective June 30, 2017. After considerable thought, my wife Ruthie and I reached a place where we felt the time was right to give the Board of Trustees notice of our intention to retire. This was a tough decision, but I truly believe that after many years of working to advance the University, it is time for someone else to come in with new energy and an expanded vision.
It has been a special honor to serve as president of this great University for the past 11 years, and to enjoy a 38-year career in higher education. When I first arrived on campus in 2005, I had this big vision – to transform MSU Denver into the preeminent urban university in the nation. I quoted American architect and urban designer Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
With support from alumni and friends like you, we have made great progress toward our goal.
We went from a college to a university, designed and launched five master’s programs, constructed buildings that support student learning outcomes and became a sought-after partner in the community.
We also increased opportunities for nontraditional students and students of color, as well as supporting underrepresented groups and closing the attainment gap. This fall, students of color make up 39.5 percent of MSU Denver’s overall student population, and nearly 32 percent of our students are the first in their families to go to college. Our first-time freshman retention rate has risen from 56 percent 10 years ago to 72 percent this fall for our students who participated in the First Year Success Program. With a 24 percent Latino population, I have no doubt that we’ll reach our goal of achieving Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status by 2018.
These are just a few of the many things we’ve accomplished together. As I think this issue of Metropolitan Denver Magazine attests, we continue to exceed expectations and I have no doubt that the University will remain on the path to preeminence after I retire in June.
So you are aware, a national search for my successor is already underway. Our Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Chair Michelle Lucero, is working with AGB Search to find the best possible candidates. Former Board Chair Rob Cohen will lead the search committee that will include a broad representation of faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni as well as foundation and community members.
All that said, my work is not done yet. During this academic year, I will focus on completing four major initiatives: achieving HSI status, seeking further funding for and opening the AES Building, successfully completing our re-accreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission and updating our approach to shared governance.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your support over the past 11 years. A university is ultimately measured by the lives and work of its graduates. By that standard, MSU Denver is already the preeminent urban university in the nation.
Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.