September 8, 2016
Members, Board of Trustees
Metropolitan State University of Denver
890 Auraria Parkway, Suite 440
Denver, Colorado 80204
As you are aware, I have reached a very difficult decision after completing 11 years in office that this would be a good time to announce my intent to step down as President of Metropolitan State University of Denver effective close of business June 30, 2017. At that time I will have had the privilege of serving as the head of a state system of higher education or the president of a state university for 24 years.
This letter fulfills my contractual obligation to provide notice to the Board no later than October 1st that I do not wish an additional contract extension for the next academic year. I also intend to surrender my appointment as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Political Science.
I want to express my deepest appreciation to the Board for the opportunity to lead this amazing university. You have given me guidance and advice but have allowed me to be entrepreneurial, take risks, and drive toward a vision of a preeminent urban university. Along the way, we have demonstrated principled and historic leadership that led the state in opening the doors of higher education to undocumented students who knew no other state or country but Colorado and the United States.
When I was appointed as President by the Board of Trustees in April 2005 I was given a charge to: Increase the visibility of Metropolitan State University of Denver; improve retention and graduation rates; be entrepreneurial; and, lead the institution toward HSI status. We have made tremendous progress in each one of these areas. Our reputation locally and nationally as reflected in both news stories, recognitions and awards has substantially grown. Our First Time Freshmen retention rate has moved from 56% to 72%for those students who participated in First Year Success and our degrees awarded have grown from 1 degree per every 6.6 student FTE to 1 degree for every 4.2 student FTE. We have become a national model in the use of public private partnerships to grow academic programs. And enrollment of Hispanic students has grown from 12.5% to 24.5% of FTE enrollment.
Our shared effort to rebuild the full-time faculty has without a doubt been a significant factor behind our success. The infusion of more than 200 new full-time tenured and tenure track faculty has accelerated the use of technology in the classroom, the use of the city as a laboratory for real world experience and engagement of our students in applied research.
Obviously, none of our successes of these past eleven years would have occurred without the belief of the faculty and staff in the mission of this university to serve the people of this community. They have shown resilience in the face of severe budget restraints and have been the catalysts in our movement toward the vision of a preeminent urban university.
I also want the Board to know how much I appreciate and have relied upon the efforts and energy of the senior leadership team. I know there were times when they felt we were over extended in the number of initiatives they were asked to implement, but they rose to the occasion more times than not.
Knowing that I had a competent and dedicated senior staff allowed me the opportunity to chair the NCAA Division II President’s Council and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Board of Directors. I have also had the opportunity to serve on the boards of the American Council on Education, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Denver Leadership Foundation and the Downtown Denver Partnership Civic Ventures.
As I enter my final academic year as President, I intend to focus on the following four initiatives: achieving HSI status; opening the AES building and seeking further partnerships in the building; successfully completing the reaccreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission; and, updating our approach to shared governance. I see these initiatives as my responsibility and intend to see them through to completion.
I believe I have fulfilled my responsibility to leave the university a better place than I found it. It is well positioned for a new leader, working with the Board, to take it an even more prominent position among our state’s postsecondary institutions.
Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.