Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.
President, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Since taking the helm in 2005, President Jordan has put MSU Denver on the path to becoming the preeminent public urban university in the nation. Under his leadership, MSU Denver has achieved university status, launched its first master’s degree programs, established a School of Education, and seen plans for a new Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, Student Success Building and Athletic Complex come to fruition. Jordan has masterfully navigated the financial downturn and deep internal budget cuts to retool and reposition the University for the future.
Jordan has overseen a number of projects to improve retention and graduation rates, a defining characteristic of his presidency. Statistics point to a clear correlation between student retention and the number of full-time faculty teaching lower-division classes; accordingly, Jordan has added 200 tenured or tenured-track faculty members during his tenure. The overall result has been an increased number of graduates every year, totaling nearly 63 percent over 10 years with almost 1,400 more degrees granted in 2014-15 than a decade ago. In fact, of the 88,000 MSU Denver alumni, 33 percent have graduated during Jordan’s presidency.
Many of these retention and graduation initiatives were developed specifically to support students of color. Jordan oversaw the creation of a First Year Success Program, a learning community with support services for incoming freshman. In addition, he has established a goal for MSU Denver of achieving Hispanic Serving Institution status by 2018, meaning that Latino enrollment would reach 25 percent. The University is well on its way to reaching that goal with current Latino enrollment at more than 20 percent. With a current student population that is 39.5 percent students of color and 32 percent first-generation, MSU Denver is the “university of opportunity” for many who may not have had a chance for an education in the past. Among those transformed by his progressive vision were undocumented students; Jordan’s courageous leadership in creating a nonresident tuition rate evened the playing field for Colorado’s undocumented students and heralded the ultimate passage of the ASSET bill.
Jordan’s time at MSU Denver also has been notable for a focus on developing programs through public-private partnerships that feed Colorado industries. A recent example is the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, set to come on line in 2017. Jordan worked with industry leaders to lay the groundwork for this transformative facility, which will serve as a training ground for the next generation of professionals in advanced manufacturing. A new integrated curriculum, developed in collaboration with industry partners, will educate a highly competent workforce that contributes to Colorado’s economic vitality.
An active leader in the community, Jordan is the incoming board chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, past chair of the AASCU’s Voluntary System of Accountability and serves on the Downtown Denver Partnership board. Among many awards, he recently has received the Latin American Educational Foundation’s 2014 Sol Trujillo National Lifetime Leadership Award and the Anti-Defamation League’s 2014 Civil Rights Award. Both organizations honored him for his work on behalf of undocumented students. He also was recognized by the Denver business community with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Award for his commitment to the values espoused by King.
Jordan began his 30-year career in higher-education administration at the University of Colorado as the assistant secretary to the Board of Regents and an attendant instructor in the Graduate School of Public Affairs. From there, he took increasingly prominent positions as an assistant vice chancellor, then vice chancellor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, before becoming the deputy executive director for finance and planning for the Arizona Board of Regents and an adjunct professor in the Center for Educational Leadership at Arizona State University. In 1994, Jordan was named executive director of the Kansas Board of Regents and in 1998 he became president of Eastern Washington University, a position he held for seven years.
Jordan grew up in Colorado. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s degree in public affairs and a doctorate from the University of Colorado Denver.
He and his wife Ruthie have two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.