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Strategic Name Initiative: Community outreach projects underway

By Angelia McGowan

Recent forums held to involve the Denver community in the selection process of a possible new name for Metro State have increased communications between the College and various community groups.

Last week, President Stephen Jordan and members of his Cabinet met with more than 25 leaders in the Latino community at two separate events to bring them into the conversation about the Strategic Name Initiative.

Since voting started on Feb. 10, 6,633 have cast their vote through the initiative’s website for a possible new name for the College.

Deputy Provost Luis Torres and Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Judi Diaz Bonacquisti provided the Latino community leaders with an update on the College’s Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) initiative, and how the recent growth in Latino student enrollment demonstrates the College’s commitment to its mission. Both served as co-chairs of the HSI Task Force.

“For one meeting we brought the community to campus and for the other, we took the meeting to the community,” says Diaz Bonacquisti. “Attendees at both were excited to learn of our progress with Latino students and were very supportive of including the word ‘university’ in our name.”

Jordan reiterated key points from his Feb. 9 Town Hall presentation, “More Than Words: Strategic Name Initiative,” including the meanings of each word in the College’s full name and the lack of name recognition for the College on the national scale. Even on a regional level, research revealed that 15 percent of employers who already have some connection to the College still view the institution as a community college and 80 percent feel the name does not reflect the institution’s quality.

A name change would make “graduates more marketable in the workplace,” said Jordan to the leaders representing a number of organizations such as the Latina Chamber and Ace Community Challenge Charter School.

All were in favor of a name change with the inclusion of the word “university.” A traditionalist in the discussion wanted to keep "Metro" while another person, who grew up on comic books, saw “Metro” as a metropolis or an “any town.”

Verónica Figoli, a multicultural business consultant with INTEGRATE Biz, Inc., explained that in Spanish an institution with the word “university” in its name is held in higher esteem compared to one that includes the word “college.” Though there is a Spanish translation for “university,” there is not one for “college,” she said.

Nita Gonzalez, president and CEO of Escuela Tlatelolco, said, “I’m very supportive of a name change. But I’m not a person to get hung up on titles. I’m more concerned with the inside. You need to have more of these (forums), not only when there’s some changes like this. There needs to be much more consistent dialogue.”

Gonzalez, who was proud to report that most of her school’s graduates attend Metro State, accepted Jordan’s on-the-spot invitation to be a part of his Community Cabinet, a "sounding board" made up of a diverse group of thought leaders. The cabinet serves to keep the College "on course" with new trends and up to speed on key issues or opportunities where the College can be of service.

 Jordan encouraged the leaders to share their opinions with their legislators as well as with the College. “We need the community to give us input. We need to hear your concerns about what we’re doing right or wrong,” he said.

On a side note, Entravision Vice President Mario Carrera, who was unable to attend the meeting, has invited Jordan to appear on a 30-minute television or radio program to discuss the name initiative.

Next steps
Tonight (Feb. 21) from 7-8 p.m., the Alumni Relations Office and Alumni Association will hold an alumni call-in town hall meeting. To engage the African American community in Denver, a town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 6-7:30 p.m. at The Prodigal Son Initiative, 5405 E. 33rd Ave.

The results of the College’s community outreach efforts and of the survey, which closes on Feb. 28, will be presented to the Board of Trustees. If the board elects to pursue a name change, it will then require legislative approval.


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