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Press Release

Metro State secures $1 million gift to launch unique water education program

Gift represents the largest private cash donation awarded to the College

Contact: Tim Carroll, Office 303-556-5136, Cell 303-870-7705

Posted: September 28, 2011

(Denver, Colo.) — Metropolitan State College of Denver has secured a $1 million donation from an anonymous local donor to establish an interdisciplinary education program, the One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship (OWOW Center). Set to offer a minor in water studies in fall 2012, the center will address the growing demand for water and the need for greater public education about this vital resource. 

“In Denver’s urban environment, water stewardship and sustainability are especially important and relevant topics,” says Metro State President Stephen Jordan. “Our donor’s generosity is a testament to the College’s ability to address these issues from its unique vantage point as an urban land-grant institution.”

In addition to the water studies minor, the OWOW Center will have two other major functions that will develop urban water stewards and deepen students’ understanding of water as a critical resource that must be sustained and conserved: enriching co-curricular activities and water stewardship activities on and beyond campus that promote effective use of water resources. 

The program will not only connect students with internships, service learning and volunteer opportunities, but will also establish and help facilitate co-curricular public education seminars and water conservation initiatives in the community and on the Auraria campus, with the goal of creating a ripple effect in water education that goes well beyond the classroom. The center will work with a high-level community advisory group to ensure direct relevance of the program to statewide water needs and interests. 

The $1 million donation will seed the five-year pilot project. The College will also contribute funds to the OWOW Center to lay the foundation for its long-term sustainability.

Jordan says the development of the program at Metro State builds on the College’s distinct attributes: an urban campus focused on educating underserved/disadvantaged populations; graduates who largely stay in Colorado and the Denver metro area; and experienced faculty who can enrich their students’ education by exploring the region and using a wealth of public and private resources that are focused on water supply, conservation and quality issues throughout the state. 

“We know the College can effectively fulfill this growing need by facilitating a solution-oriented dialogue that promotes effective use of Colorado’s water resources for both urban and rural communities alike,” says Sandra Haynes, dean of Metro State’s School of Professional Studies.

The OWOW Center will engage multiple academic departments on campus as well as leading local and national water organizations in developing the curriculum and learning opportunities. Course topics will include hydrology, water law, history, economics, politics, conflict resolution and negotiation. Students will be required to complete a senior thesis or project with a focus on water stewardship utilizing their major-specific methodologies. 

“When we researched the potential for this program, we found that there wasn’t much being done at the undergraduate level to incorporate a variety of disciplines in water education,” says Haynes. “Through the interdisciplinary model, our graduates have the potential to make lasting impacts on water issues in our communities across the state and in their chosen profession.”

The establishment of the OWOW Center at Metropolitan State College of Denver is coming at a critical time. With continued residential development along the Front Range, the Denver basin’s aquifers continue to become more strained, which could restrict future economic development in the region. In a 2004 study, the Colorado Water Conservation Board predicted that by 2030 the region’s annual water demand will exceed available supplies by 120,000 to 360,000 acre-feet. 

Proposed inter-basin water transfer projects require expensive capital investment and carry unknown long-term environmental costs. Water historically has been and will continue to be a central issue in Colorado, home to the headwaters of five primary rivers – Arkansas, Colorado, South Platte, Rio Grande and White/Yampa. 

A search for the center’s director is currently underway. 


About Metropolitan State College of Denver
With more than 23,500 students, Metro State is Colorado’s leader in educating undergraduate Coloradans. The College now offers master’s degrees in accounting, teaching and social work. The College enrolls the highest number of students of color among four-year colleges in the state. It boasts nearly 72,000 alumni, the bulk of whom remain in Colorado after graduation.