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President’s Cabinet recap

The meeting covered budget updates and presentations from the Transfer Process Task Force and the Culture and Workplace Council.

By Lindsey Coulter

May 21, 2020

Tivoli Student Union in background, MSU Denver banner in foregroundPresident Janine Davidson, Ph.D., began Wednesday’s meeting of the President’s Cabinet by checking in with the Metropolitan State University of Denver community.

“I want to acknowledge that this is hard, but I also want us to collectively accept that it could be even a year or more before things become what we would consider normal … or a new normal,” Davidson said. “We cannot control the virus; how our national, state and local leaders react; or the macroeconomic situation. We can control how we communicate with each other … how we support each other and how we take care of ourselves.”

Davidson encouraged the campus community to choose compassion, sympathy, empathy and gratitude, expressing her own gratefulness for the efforts of faculty, staff and trustees.

Referencing Monday’s message to the community, Davidson reiterated efforts to offer as many classes on campus as can be physically and safely accommodated. The University is still determining safety protocols, campus-use plans and course tiers, while collaborating with AHEC partners. She also asked the campus community to stay flexible, resilient and compassionate as decision-making evolves with the changing pandemic situation.

Davidson also announced that summer enrollment is up 3.6%, which is a great sign that students are sticking with us. Fall enrollment is down 13.5% but is climbing, thanks to a number of efforts to drive enrollment and retain students.

In terms of funding, the Colorado Joint Budget Committee voted Tuesday to cut the state’s higher-education budget by 58%, which if approved by Gov. Jared Polis would mean a $36.9 million cut for MSU Denver. However, 5% of this is a base cut, and the JBC indicated the remainder is to be considered a one-time reduction. Federal funding also will fill a portion of that gap at $33.6 million. Polis has further proposed a 3% cap on tuition increases. This will leave the University with a $14 million gap. Subsequently, the University will take several steps outlined in today’s Early Bird article, which will be discussed further at this afternoon’s virtual town-hall meeting.

Transfer Process Task Force update

Liz Hinde, Ph.D., dean, School of Education, presented on progress made by the Transfer Process Task Force in its efforts to make MSU Denver a national model for university transfer/articulation systems. The group aims to ensure that 90% of all transcripts and other pertinent records will be reviewed within one week or less. Hinde noted that this goal in particular has been achieved and that the days of the eight-week (or more) backlog are gone.

Concrete steps taken to improve the process include the hiring of a new evaluator and document-intake/communication professional (in line with industry best practices). The group also created standard transfer course-evaluation guidelines and is conducting ongoing reviews of existing transfer equivalencies in the database. Catalog language has been changed to ensure that MSU Denver accepts state-approved General Studies courses. The team further launched the EAB Transfer Portal via the Admissions website, streamlined and organized articulation agreements, and integrated the Online Orientation platform with Banner. To read more, please visit the President’s Cabinet SharePoint site.

President’s Advisory Council on Culture and Workplace update

John Kietzman, interim director of Athletics and council co-lead, shared updates on professional- and leadership-development efforts, Roadrunners Who Soar and the onboarding process. Given the current pandemic, the council is focused on employees’ mental health and building a culture of trust among employees and supervisors that supports employees taking leave and healthily structuring workdays. In particular, the council proposes a Roadrunner Recharge Day that focuses on mental health, self-care and flexibility.

University Policies and Catalog updates

Sheila Rucki, Ph.D., professor, Political Science, and Nick Stancil, J.D., Deputy General Counsel, brought several policy items to the Cabinet.

Social Media Policy

Social Media Strategist Sarah Hunsinger and Whei Wong-Howerton, associate vice president of Marketing and Brand, presented on the policy, which creates an administrative framework to manage MSU Denver-sponsored and -affiliated social-media profiles. It provides guidance to employees and students on the responsible use of social media related to conduct, privacy, free expression and intellectual-property laws and policies. Members voted to approve.

Administrator/Staff Sick Leave Policy 

Benefits Manager Amanda Berry presented the policy revision, which allows exempt administrators and staff to use existing sick leave to care for the health needs of domestic partners, in-laws and step-relatives. Members voted to approve.

Academic Freedom Policy 

Katia Campbell, Ph.D., president, Faculty Senate, and Academic Policy Committee Chair Jessica Weiss, Ph.D., assistant professor, Art, presented revisions that clarify the rights of faculty and students regarding the freedom to pursue intellectual inquiry and to publish research free from institutional censorship or discipline. 

Transfer Articulation Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding Policy 

Weiss also presented the provost-level policy, which describes how the University and its academic units create, implement and track transfer-articulation agreements and memoranda of understanding with other colleges’ programs. 

Transfer Evaluation Credits 

Weiss presented a second provost-level policy revision, which aligns policy with current practices in advance of the upcoming Higher Learning Commission visit. This revision allows for transfer of credit from nonregionally accredited institutions when a transfer agreement or MOU is in effect. 

Undergraduate Curriculum Manual

Curriculum Committee Chair Zsuzsa Balogh, Ph.D., presented the revision, which creates a process for honors courses to be created and reviewed and includes changes to the definitions of the face-to-face, hybrid, online and self-paced online instructional-delivery methods. 

Other updates:

  • The University received MSI/HSI COVID-19 CARE funds totaling $1.036 millionand has continued extensive lobbying efforts to support vulnerable students and DACA recipients. Further, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council continues to progress in its focus areas.
  • The federal Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations, and the Office of the General Counsel is reviewing the updates to determine how University procedures might need to change accordingly.
  • University Advancement is close to its $6.5 million fundraising goal, at $6.3 million. The University’s investment portfolio is down only 1%, and Advancement continues to engage donors. Dreamer Student Emergency Fund co-chairs and committee members continue to build the fund and are working with Student Affairs to disburse funds.
  • The School of Education will host a webinar June 5 on early-childhood-education issues and trauma. More information will follow.

Topics: Funding, Policy, President’s Cabinet

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