Last Updated: Mar 28th, 2013 - 15:54:01
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Jordan updates University community, seeks input

By Cliff Foster

MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan today delivered a wide-ranging update on the University, reviewing next year’s budget outlook, describing how IT staff shortages are being addressed, and announcing another campus climate survey and a potential new building.

The address was the first President’s Spring Update, an event patterned after Jordan’s traditional fall Welcome Back Breakfast. Speaking from the stage of the King Center, Jordan reviewed the four themes (Student and Academic Success, Community Engagement and Regional Stewardship, University Culture and University Resources) of the University’s strategic plan, A Time of Transformation. He explained how the plan’s goals and objectives tie into the new individual performance contract MSU Denver negotiated with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Throughout his remarks, the president invited the campus community to provide input on a variety of issues, a reflection of the concept of a democratic workplace, which is one of the pillars of the strategic plan along with diversity, entrepreneurship and telling the MSU Denver story.

Here are some of the topics addressed by Jordan:

Budget and salaries
Jordan noted that a proposed $30 million increase in general fund appropriations and $5.3 million increase in financial aid for higher education would translate into a $1.9 million increase for the University in the 2013-14 fiscal year. At the same time, however, the president noted that the spending plan is impacted by declining enrollment, a statewide and nationwide trend.

The University is approved for a 9 percent tuition increase in FY 13-14 (and the following two years) per its Financial Accountability Plan, but Jordan has asked Administration, Finance and Facilities Vice President Natalie Lutes to weigh the benefit to students of an 8 percent and a 7 percent tuition increase against the benefit to retention and graduation that the larger increase could mean.

Considering these components and initial budget assumptions, budget planners are initially looking at a 2 percent salary increase for faculty, which could change based on CUPA data to be released in March. Administrators could also potentially receive a 2 percent increase. Classified staff members, who have not seen a raise in five years, could receive a 1.5 percent salary increase if approved by the legislature.

Information technology
A task force is developing an IT Strategic Plan and will soon conduct a survey with the aim of developing a comprehensive blueprint to integrate technology services into the fabric of the University. Jordan acknowledged that the IT infrastructure is “in dire need of repair,” saying there are currently 20 empty positions in the academic and administrative IT units. A consultant has been hired to seek candidates and suggest best practices to streamline the hiring process. Jordan’s appeal to “thank our folks who work in IT for the effort they put in on our behalf,” drew applause.

A new building
The University is exploring construction of a building at 7th Street and Auraria Parkway—a third building in the MSU Denver neighborhood. It would house the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science and STEM-related disciplines including physics, industrial design and engineering. Half of the projected $40-$60 million cost would be covered by the University with the remainder from private sector donations. “Lockheed Martin and Jeppesen have already expressed interest,” Jordan said.

Groundbreaking for the athletic complex south of Colfax Avenue will take place next month, and Jordan said the facility will serve MSU Denver’s athletic teams and student clubs as well as the surrounding community.

Enrollment
A Strategic Enrollment Management Committee has been formed to further attract a diverse pool of students from the seven-county metro area and beyond. The committee is also looking at ways to significantly boost retention and graduation rates by 2017. In addition, a task for will be formed to focus on the recruitment, retention and graduation of student-veterans.

Hispanic Serving Institution
In updating the Hispanic Serving Institution initiative, Jordan said that since he came to MSU Denver in 2005, Latino enrollment has grown from 2,768 to 4,475 in fall 2012. “We have more Latino students enrolled at MSU Denver than Adams State University— already an HSI—has in its entire student population,” he said.

He also discussed efforts at the federal level to have Emerging HSIs like MSU Denver be eligible for planning grants like HSIs receive, only smaller.

University structure
Another initiative being considered is the potential restructuring of the University. Jordan announced that a Transitions Task Force will meet with students, faculty, staff, trustees and members of the community to seek information on how a reorganization of academic units would benefit the University, departments, alumni and the stature of the school. "I think it is a really exciting opportunity to rethink who we are and how we deliver our product for the benefit of our students and our community."

Legislation
Jordan predicted that the ASSET bill, which would allow undocumented students to attend public higher education institutions in Colorado at the in-state tuition rate, will be approved. He noted that some observers have credited MSU Denver’s groundbreaking Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate with moving the ASSET bill forward. “All of you should take great pride in your University and its commitment to social justice,” he said, a remark that also drew applause.

Jordan said he would recommend that the Board of Trustees endorse a measure in the State Legislature that would ban concealed weapons on higher education campuses.

Campus Climate Survey
Jordan announced that another employee campus climate survey will be launched in March. He cited the positives that have resulted from the 2010 campus climate survey, saying the results informed the strategic planning process, led to supervisory and cultural competence training for supervisors, and promoted better communication.

And at several points during his remarks, he mentioned the need for continued cooperation among all the University constituencies. He referenced a committee reviewing faculty concerns over tenure rights, calling it a “great example of how we as a community can work together to address very difficult issues and to find solutions that benefit our entire University.”

“As we continue to move down the path to preeminence, it’s very important that we continue to work together,” he told the audience. “Your voice is truly, truly valued. We all have a stake in the continued success of our institution, and we need to hear your opinions about the things that matter to all of us.”

A video of the event will be posted on Spring Update this evening.


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