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President Jordan’s Spring Update

The update focused on the seven key priorities of the current academic year as they relate to the University’s strategic plan, “A Time of Transformation.”

March 19, 2015

President Stephen Jordan kicked off his third annual Spring Update by reminding attendees of the event’s purpose: to share ideas and information with the entire University community, to encourage dialogue and provide an update on MSU Denver’s progress toward transformation.

Focusing on the seven key priorities of the current academic year as they relate to the University’s strategic plan, “A Time of Transformation,” Jordan highlighted the following over the course of his presentation:

  • Recruitment, retention and graduation
  • The AES initiative
  • Implementing HB 1319 funding
  • Achieving HSI by FY 2017-2018
  • University culture
  • Continuing to increase local and national visibility
  • Collegiate restructuring

Among Jordan’s major points:

A “refresh” of the University’s Strategic Plan is underway with help from consultant Pat Sanaghan and input from MSU Denver stakeholders and the campus community. The new plan will identify and prioritize goals for the University through 2020, and will be presented to MSU Denver’s Board of Trustees in June.

Student recruitment, retention and graduation remain the University’s top priorities, because of MSU Denver’s mission to provide affordable, accessible education to Colorado and because 93 percent of the operating budget is dependent upon credit hour production, or full-time student equivalents. With a current retention rate of 62 percent among first time freshman students — and a goal of achieving 75 percent — the University has created a retention task force; added a new program to identify at-risk students via a real-time data base that uses predictive analytics; and developed a program for enhanced enrollment outreach. Additionally, the University is formulating a plan to improve academic and financial aid advising, the two leading factors in student departures as revealed in the Hanover report.

MSU Denver is on track to break ground on the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences (AES) Building in August, with an opening slated for the fall 2017 semester. While the state’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) has not yet voted on the Capitol Construction Committee’s recommendation to authorize $14.8 million towards the building’s construction, the project remains high on the list of funding priorities before the JBC. The AES initiative continues to draw national attention: While in Washington, D.C. last week, Jordan met with Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine, and U.S. News and World Report about the initiative — and closer to home, he recently met with the Denver Post.

Barb Weiske, executive vice president of the Auraria Campus, provided an update on several AHEC projects including the library’s renovations, a partnership with the City of Denver to further connect the Auraria Campus to downtown and the Tivoli Park project.

While changes are still being proposed to House Bill 1319 (HB 1319) — the legislation that would modify the funding model for higher education in Colorado and make it more equitable. Jordan said MSU Denver still anticipates receiving between 14.9% and 17%, which translates to an additional $6 million to $7 million for MSU Denver contingent on credit hour production. “Nothing is guaranteed, however, and these dollar amounts may decrease,” said Jordan.

The Budget Task Force, comprised of faculty, students, administrators and classified staff will present its final set of recommendations for funding priorities to President Jordan in the upcoming weeks and report back to constituent groups by the end of April. Budget, salary and tuition increases hinge upon the state budget set by the Colorado General Assembly as well as enrollment. “It’s important to remember that for every 1 percent drop in enrollment, MSU Denver experiences a loss of $1.8 million in revenues,” said Jordan. (see chart

While the number of Latino students at MSU Denver has grown from 13 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014, the University needs to increase Latino enrollment to 25 percent by 2017-2018 in order to achieve Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status. In addition to helping close the educational gap in Colorado, an HSI designation will give MSU Denver access to federal grants and programs that support all students.

Jordan highlighted efforts to enhance and transform the University’s culture, citing the work of the Shared Governance Task Force, which will complete its work in June when it offers recommendations for an effective shared governance structure to the Board of Trustees. Additionally, Jordan touched on possible collegiate restructuring including proposals for a School of Social Work, College of the Arts, an Institute for Advanced Manufacturing in support of the University’s AES initiative, and a School of Hospitality.

Jordan closed his presentation by commending faculty and staff for their excellence and helping to raise MSU Denver’s profile on the national landscape.

To watch President Jordan’s Spring Update in its entirety, visit the Office of the President’s website. The video will be posted by next week.