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Inside the President’s Cabinet

Updates on Culture and Workplace Advisory Council, big events and impressive achievements highlight Sept. 12 meeting.

By Dan Vaccaro

September 13, 2018

President Janine Davidson and cabinet membersCouldn’t make it to the Sept. 12 President’s Cabinet meeting? The Early Bird has you covered. Here are the highlights.

So much to celebrate

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., kicked off the meeting by thanking all those involved in the planning and implementation of last week’s Inauguration. She presented the Inauguration Planning Committee with the President’s Teamwork Award for “demonstrating attributes of selfless teamwork.”  

Davidson also shared some of the University's top achievements from the past year and reiterated the key messages from her Investiture speech.

“MSU Denver is poised to answer that which ails higher education,” she said. “And I am excited about the opportunity we have to lead.”

Working to ensure a great workplace

Members from the President’s Advisory Council on Culture and Workplace presented their research and recommendations to the Cabinet.

The 50-member council comprises five subcommittees: professional development, career progression, employee awards and recognition, onboarding and orientation, and employee engagement.

Among many noteworthy recommendations, the team proposed purpose-driven employee evaluations, a comprehensive database for employee awards and expanding supervisor training in areas such as work-life balance and professional development.

Davidson called the council’s work extremely important and said, “We need to constantly be coming up with new ideas to make this University a better place to work.”

Layton Curl, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and president of the Council of Chairs, will be stepping down as lead for the council and said to stay tuned for calls for new leadership in the coming month.     

And other updates

  • Davidson welcomed Vice President of Student Affairs Will Simpkins, Ed.D., and gave a status update on other key hires. She expects the search for a vice president of Advancement to be wrapped up in early October. She also noted that the search for a chief operating officer (formerly the vice president for Administration and Finance) will begin shortly and be chaired by Faculty Senate President Matt Makley, Ph.D.  
  • Simpkins gave an update on enrollment, which is down 0.9 percent, a better number than the anticipated 2 percent decline. He thanked the staff and faculty who have worked hard to make sure students get registered for classes.
  • Simpkins also gave an update on the Classroom to Career Hub initiative. The hiring committee has made great progress in the search for an executive director of career engagement. There will be more to come on this initiative in the Early Bird soon.
  • Vice President of Strategy Cathy Lucas reported that the results of the Brand Audit are in and will be presented to the Board of Trustees at its October retreat. She did share that MSU Denver surpassed its brand-recognition goal for this year, clocking in at 84 percent, and taking another step toward the overall goal of 85 percent by 2020.
  • Chief Information Officer Kevin Taylor reported that Information Technology Services is in the midst of an upgrade to Banner 9 and will test the system starting next week through Oct. 12.
  • Taylor also reminded the community to be vigilant about spam, as there has been an uptick in suspicious messages recently. He reiterated that ITS would never send an email asking someone to share their password or pay an invoice. Please forward all such messages to
  • Associate to the President for Diversity Myron Anderson, Ph.D., shared some encouraging stats. He said that of the 28 most recent tenure-track faculty hired, 10 were people of color.
  • Athletic Director Anthony Grant, Ph.D., reported that the volleyball team will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend. Check out the team’s schedule and attend an upcoming game!
  • Council of Administrators President Evan Bowles and Classified Staff Council President Metza Templeton shared that their respective groups met this summer to work on drafting a constitution for a staff senate. Bowles said that merging the two governance groups would allow for better collaboration and eliminate silos.
  • Faculty Senate President Matt Makley, Ph.D., said a conversation is underway about how to build bridges among the Senate, the Council of Chairs and the deans. He noted that communication is key when vetting things such as new policies.
  • Interim Vice President for Administration George Middlemist reported that his team is working with a consultant group to look at the total rewards package for employees, both salary and things outside of salary, to learn how MSU Denver can be more competitive in attracting and retaining the best people.
  • The College of Business will host Bryan Caplan, Ph.D., professor of economics at George Mason University, as part of its Exploring Economic Freedom Lecture Series. Caplan’s provocative presentation is titled “The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.” The event will be held Sept. 27 at 11 a.m. in the Tivoli.
  • Student Government Assembly President Justin Darnall reported that SGA launched “Coffee Mondays,” a weekly event for students to speak with their representatives.

For those who can’t attend Cabinet meetings, you can always listen online.


An earlier version of this story included an incorrect title for Layton Curl, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychology. We regret the error.

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