From Davidson’s Desk
Supporting all Roadrunners and preparing them to become the real-life superheroes our world needs.
April 3, 2019
Last month, I spoke at an opening-day screening of “Captain Marvel” in honor of International Women’s Day. That keynote got me thinking about how young girls and boys in the United States are told they can do anything they set their minds to, but then at some point, the girls are told: “No, actually, you can’t because you are a girl.”
When you hear that message over and over again, you start to wonder if you’re crazy for wanting to reach your big dream anyway, and you develop this pesky little voice in your head that tells you how you will fail because you are limited in some way. Those doubts are barriers that prove too great to overcome for so many potential real-life superheroes.
At Metropolitan State University of Denver, we need to do everything we can to quell those pesky little voices, to stamp out those doubts, to knock down those barriers for our students, so many of whom have been told “they can’t” for whatever reason. When MSU Denver is at its best, our extraordinary faculty and staff provide our students with the support, courage and tools they need to overcome whatever roadblocks stand in their way.
That work is at the very heart of our mission, and as an institution, we need to be doing even more to make sure we are putting our values into action. That’s one of the reasons we were so excited in February to announce that MSU Denver achieved federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. That achievement – a decade in the making – demonstrates that we are creating a welcoming environment for our state’s growing Latino community. The designation also opens up opportunities for additional grant funding that we can use to help support retention initiatives for all of our students.
I have heard some in our campus community protest that if we focus all of our energy on one community, then we don’t have the support and resources for others. I understand that concern and laud those who initiate those critical conversations, but I can assure you that MSU Denver will continue to work every day to support students from every background, experience and community, as well as to ensure that our campus remains a respectful and inclusive place for all of us.
And I truly do mean everyone: students of color, LGBTQ students, parents, veterans, students with disabilities, students who work while they go to college, career-changers; the list goes on. All of our students face barriers and need personalized support to take full advantage of the excellent education we provide at MSU Denver.
We have already taken some concrete steps in this direction. We recently elevated a role that was formerly an associate to the president for diversity to a vice-president-level position. Shawn Worthy, Ph.D., interim assistant to the president for diversity, is helming the search for a leader who will have a seat at the table in conversations about the University’s top decisions and initiatives. The new VP will also lead the effort to create a robust diversity and inclusion plan that guides the institution in making sure we are doing everything we can to be the barrier-crushing community our students and employees need. Diversity and inclusion will also help shape our Strategic Plan 2025 initiative, which is getting underway right now.
I truly believe that MSU Denver has the capacity to fully embrace and support students from every walk of life, and if we do right by them, they will grow into the real-life superheroes our world needs. Thank you for your support, your honesty and your ideas as we chart the course for this diverse University community together.
Janine Davidson, Ph.D.
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