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Presidential search update

September 26, 2016

AGB consultant asks, “What will make a great new MSU Denver president?”

MSU Denver welcomed consultant Georgia Yuan to campus last week on September 20-21. Yuan and her firm, AGB Search, have been engaged to help begin the process of finding a new president to replace Stephen Jordan, who retires next June 30.

Yuan said her visit was “a listening tour” to discover the qualities different stakeholders groups want in the next MSU Denver president and the opportunities and challenges that individual will encounter. She asked, “What will a president find exciting here? What makes this a place you’re dedicated to?”

Yuan met with small groups representing students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the larger Denver community. Their comments will guide her in developing a profile for potential candidates that will enable them to decide if they will apply. It will be posted online; she encouraged participants to share it widely. Yuan will assist the Search Committee to identify an initial pool of candidates. Committee members will whittle the applicant pool to between three and five candidates. The Board of Trustees will make the final selection in early 2017.

Pride in the great progress MSU Denver has made during Dr. Jordan’s tenure, along with the belief that the new president has to hit the ground running was an overarching theme. “We’re really rolling. We need someone who can come in and pick up momentum with us,” said one participant.

A few people joked that the next president needs to be able to “walk on water,” but one summed up: he or she needs to be a “communicator, advocate, salesman, risk-taker, competitive, strong in who they are, embrace things that move us forward, have a vision and the competitiveness to move the bar higher.”

Multiple speakers emphasized the importance of building on MSU Denver’s diversity and accessibility, especially among students of color, the first in their families to attend college, older students and veterans. Participants want the process President Jordan began to achieve Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status to be completed. And the next president must take to heart MSU Denver’s and Auraria’s history with the Latino community. “Cultural competence” was a quality mentioned often.

Participants reinforced the compelling need for more resources. “Metro is chronically underfunded,” one summed up. The new president has to be adept at working with the legislature, alumni, and donors to discover and exploit new funding sources. That will help keep tuition the lowest of any four-year Colorado university while maintaining a first-rate faculty who can afford to live in Denver.

The single most-voiced reason someone should be excited to come to MSU Denver was, “Our students are awesome.” They are non-traditional … scrappy and adept at juggling lives full with school, jobs and family.

“We want someone who sees this as a great place, not a stepping stone to a bigger institution – someone who will stay for a while and recognizes what a jewel we have here.”

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