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The Jordan Legacy: Faculty as foundation

For President Stephen Jordan, the path to preeminence has involved a commitment to – and investment in – faculty.

By Cory Phare

March 29, 2017

President Stephen Jordan has built a track record of preeminence from 12 years at the helm of MSU Denver. To honor his legacy, we’re taking a weekly look at some of the key ways he’s transformed the University for the better.

When asked about his proudest accomplishments at MSU Denver, President Stephen Jordan is quick to mention the successful double-digit increase in retention and graduation rates for Roadrunners.

Tied to this is another of his proudest accomplishments, and one that he sees directly responsible for opening these doors: adding a net increase of more than 200 full-time tenure and tenure-track faculty positions.

Shortly into his administration, Jordan introduced a 10-year plan that not only set annual goals for hiring tenure and tenure-track professors but also raised faculty salaries (even for affiliates). Ten years ago, tenured faculty was paid at 80 percent of its benchmark CUPA average, and now compensation has risen to 93 percent of CUPA (as high as 99 percent based on total years worked).

Jordan’s commitment to restructuring the MSU Denver’s instructional makeup has a substantial impact on student success, according to Matt Makley, faculty senate president and History Department faculty member.

“With the increase in tenured and tenure-track positions, faculty are on campus more on any given day,” he said. “From a practical perspective, more presence means more office hours and access to advising; that’s a good thing for students.”

By recruiting subject matter experts from across the country to execute the University’s teaching-centered mission, Jordan has helped to essentially invert the percentage of full-time to part-time faculty, now approximately 60 percent to 40 percent, respectively.

According to Sheila Rucki, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, this move showcases the value that committed instruction brings to the MSU Denver educational experience.

“It’s not that the part-time faculty isn’t good, but full-time faculty just have more time to commit both in and out of the classroom, giving them the chance to integrate additional experiences like internships and research into their students' programs,” she said. “[Jordan] has expressed commitment to how faculty promote the interest of our students.”

It’s more than numbers, however.

“If you have someone who can exclusively focus on being a faculty member, they can be productive with scholarship, create innovate programs, and present their work in top-flight journals and international conferences,” said Makley. “That raises the profile of MSU Denver, and is directly tied to the initiative to attract more tenured and tenure-track faculty.”

These sentiments are at the forefront of a bold commitment to teaching that no doubt will reverberate for years to come. And, always at the forefront, is student success.

“With more full-time faculty here for a longer time, students can have a deeper connection to learning – and the University,” said Rucki. “It’s wonderful to be at an institution that’s bucking the trend.”

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