The Colorado legislature’s 2024 session saw the passage of key financing initiatives and policy measures that will support Metropolitan State University of Denver’s mission of preparing graduates to meet the state’s 21st-century workforce needs.

“It’s a pretty banner year for MSU Denver in terms of the funding we were able to secure,” said Kaycee Gerhart, vice president of Government and External Affairs. “The good news story is that the state is invested in the continued growth and transformation of the University.”  

How funding will be allocated 

In the 120-day session that ended May 8, the legislature approved $132 million in funding for higher education, which is projected to yield $9.1 million for MSU Denver. The funding bill also includes a 3% cap on tuition growth for in-state students. 

MSU Denver capital projects fared especially well in the recent session, Gerhart said.  

Lawmakers allocated $50 million to support construction of the Gina and Frank Day Health Institute tower building, which will house 10 MSU Denver departments, including Nursing, Health Professions, Nutrition and Dietetics, Biology, and Human Services and Counseling. The design phase of the project, which includes $15 million in philanthropic donations, is expected to get underway soon, she said.  

Additional funding earmarked for MSU Denver included $6 million for building a dedicated space on campus for the Classroom to Career Hub as part of the redevelopment of a former ballfield on the Auraria Campus. “I think our campus, visually and programmatically, will be fundamentally different as a result of these facilities,” Gerhart said. 

The legislature also allocated $8.4 million for a new student information system to replace an outdated 25-year-old system that isn’t compatible with mobile technology, she said. “That will cover the full project cost of selecting, designing, implementing and then training the University to prepare for adoption,” Gerhart said. 

 

Advocacy work paying off 

Gerhart said the legislature’s approval of three major projects came as a bit of a surprise because the usual pattern is to receive funding for one capital improvement every couple of years. 

“When I add it all up, it’s nearly $65 million in additional investment into the University on top of the additional base-funding increases that we got, in a year in which the headline was that the state doesn’t have a lot of resources,” Gerhart said.  

Kaycee Gerheart

“What I take away for us is that this is the manifestation of work that we’ve been doing for five years in terms of building bipartisan champions and building the case for why higher ed is the right (return on investment) for the state,” she added. “We’re thrilled to see that pay off.” 

Gerhart hailed testimony and outreach in support of the University’s initiatives offered at the legislative session by nearly 50 MSU Denver community members, including students, faculty members, staff members, Community Cabinet members, Foundation board members and trustees. 

The session also saw the passage of 37 pieces of legislation related to higher education. They included bills that MSU Denver helped influence, such as continuation of student-educator stipends, revisions to the rural health care-provider-pipeline program and creating a first-generation-serving-institution designation. 

“It’s great that there’s more attention being paid to higher ed,” Gerhart said. “It means that we have a responsibility to steward it well so that we can continue to tell that story of ROI and keep the momentum up.”