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President’s Cabinet recap

Meeting focuses on Commencement, fall planning, budget news, website transformation and more.

By Lindsey Coulter

March 29, 2021

Auraria campus with MSU Denver banner.Edward J. Brown Jr., chief of staff, began the Metropolitan State University of Denver President’s Cabinet meeting Wednesday by dedicating a moment of silence to victims of gun violence in the Atlanta area as well as in Boulder, recognizing the impact on Roadrunners and our nation as a whole. Brown also officially welcomed Provost Alfred Tatum, Ph.D., to his first Cabinet meeting. Tatum thanked his new colleagues for their warm welcome and support.

Updates from President Davidson

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., also spoke about the recent shooting in Boulder and encouraged Roadrunners to access the numerous supportive resources available through the University.

“We are all, I know, deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life,” Davidson said. “I want to recognize that there is grief and trauma that extends beyond Boulder, and many of us in our community may be grappling with what’s happening.”

Fall planning

Davidson also gave an overview of fall plans to return to full on-campus operations and expressed hope that all employees can be vaccinated for Covid-19 on campus or through other providers within the next month. The focus will then move to vaccinating students.

In addition to offering high-quality online courses, MSU Denver hopes to offer 70% to 100% of credit-hour production (compared with fall 2019) on campus.

“Returning to a fully operational physical campus allows us to offer the best of both worlds to our students,” Davidson said, “retaining the gains that we made during remote learning while also providing ample classes and resources for those who prefer face-to-face learning.”

Davidson reiterated that safety is and will continue to be the University’s No. 1 concern and that the University will follow evolving science and the guidance of state and campus health officials.

Budget and funding

  • Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee initially approved a return of higher-education funding to pre-pandemic levels in its figure-setting process.
  • MSU Denver’s request for more-equitable funding has influenced other proposals regarding funding to support underrepresented, minority, first-generation and Pell-eligible students.
  • The JBC has discussed a state tuition buy-down plan for MSU Denver and similar institutions to help keep tuition flat.
  • The state also released a quarterly revenue forecast that is optimistic, but impacts to higher ed are still unknown.

President’s Team Award 

Davidson recognized the Jordan Student Success Building front-desk staff with the President’s Team Award. The hardworking student-employees include Kristen Gough, Katelyn Chu, Enrique Lopez, Kelly Raya and Nicholas Villalobos.

Commencement updates

Cora Potter, manager of University Events and Protocol, and Kylie Henson, Special Events coordinator, presented on the University’s plan to offer a hybrid Commencement, including two components: Paint the Town Red on May 3-5 and a virtual ceremony May 14.

Paint the Town Red will recognize 2020 and spring 2021 graduates at the Assembly Athletic Complex. The masked, socially distanced outdoor event will allow faculty members and students to safely gather for their walk across the Commencement stage (while friends and family watch via livestream), complete with regalia, professional photography, proclamations and some traditional pomp and circumstance.

The virtual ceremony will be livestreamed and will include prerecorded speeches and performances, including the keynote address by Colorado State Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez.

Faculty and staff members are encouraged to volunteer, submit congratulatory messages, share Commencement news on social media and participate in department-level and specialty ceremonies. Please visit the Commencement website for more information.

Athletics update

Todd Thurman, director of Athletics, presented on the new partnership with AthleteNetwork, a one-stop website where can student-athletes can find everything they need for success in the classroom and beyond. The site offers student-athletes educational resources, advising support, links to sports social-media accounts, NCAA and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference forms and more. The Alumni Connections area (M Club) offers a platform for graduates to stay connected to one another and the University and develop mentor/mentee relationships with current students. Meanwhile, the revenue generator allows external organizations to recruit student-athletes by paying to post job ads.

The Department of Athletics worked with the Classroom to Career Hub to provide student-athletes with an array of career services and opportunities for employment and skills-building, supporting student-athletes through the transition from student to alumnus. The site will be fully active soon.

Day of Giving recap

The 2021 Day of Giving on March 18 cooked up recipes for student success. In total, 866 donors gave $207,704 to support 86 projects, initiatives and areas, exceeding University Advancement’s goal of engaging 750 donors.

The event also included seven hours of live and prerecorded telethon programming that highlighted University programs and departments, alumni, giving opportunities, strategic planning and more. The content reached 33,000 people, nearly 800 of whom engaged through comments, reactions, shares and clicks.

Signature Authority Policy

The new presidential-level operational policy would delegate authority through the Board of Trustees and the president to other MSU Denver administrators to sign contracts on behalf of the University. The policy aims to reduce confusion and clarify and formalize the structure for signature authority.

The policy, co-developed by multiple University offices and departments, would apply only to contracts for goods and services, Memoranda of Understanding, affiliation agreements, etc., and not personnel matters. It also does not take the place of the University’s signatory list but identifies positions that have signature authority and still requires multilevel review of contracts.

The recommended policy passed through the Cabinet and will move to Davidson for final review.

Website digital-transformation project

The Information Technology Services and Strategy, Marketing and Communications teams are conducting a significant revitalization of the University’s website to deliver a compelling online experience for the campus community, specifically current and prospective students. The transformation incorporates insights from user experience research, key messaging, search-engine optimization, analytics and accessibility best practices. The project is considering navigation and management of content as well as accessibility and translation, and it also included a review of the University’s technology infrastructure.

The University received 14 bids and ultimately selected Clique Studios of Denver, which has developed the new WordPress site. The University also worked with a wide range of internal stakeholders during and in advance of development to ensure inclusivity.

The new mobile-ready design includes side navigation, updated menu options, a self-identification tool, an alert bar, directional details, student testimonials, consistent branding and page templates, video embeds, a cleaner design that offers bite-size content and more.

Content migration will take place now through May. Trainings for web authors will begin ASAP paired with weekly support-office hours and a training library. All pages are expected to be live by July 1. Please watch the Early Bird for more details and updates.

Other updates:

  • The recent Campus Climate Survey had a 25% faculty response rate, a 44% staff response rate, a 6% student response rate and a 62% administrative response rate. Watch for more data and details in the coming months.
  • Save the date for the Latinx Graduation Ceremony on May 5.
  • University Advancement is approaching $4.5 million in total fundraising, with a goal of $5.5 million.
  • Staff Senate elections first call for nominations is April 5.
  • Enrollment for summer is down 14% from last summer.
  • The fall schedule will be open for students to view beginning today. Registration begins April 5.
  • Over 10,000 students are eligible for SNAP benefits. Encourage them to visit the Student Care Center website for more information.
  • Human Resources is close to finalizing the Equal Pay Act.
  • Check out results of the Universitywide Engagement, Leader and Self-Identification survey.
  • The Classified Performance Management Cycle ends Wednesday.
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Education Dial 3.0 was released Tuesday and includes new information on Covid-19 restrictions.

Topics: Events, President’s Cabinet

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