With the spring semester in full swing, Metropolitan State University of Denver has a lot to celebrate. President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., provided a few high points to kick off the Feb. 29 meeting of the President’s Cabinet:  

  • Undergraduate enrollment is up more than 4% over last spring. 
  • Fall-to-spring retention is up 4.5% year-over-year.  
  • The MSU Denver Foundation’s endowment distributed more than $1 million last year for the first time ever. 
  • University Advancement has raised $57.4 million toward its capital campaign and has engaged nearly 9,000 alumni — the most in University history. 
  • The Classroom to Career Hub, Health Institute Tower and Student Information System capital projects have all been recommended to the state legislature’s joint budget committee for funding.  

Davidson also provided an update on efforts to keep the campus community safe. 

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D.

Our top priority is always the safety of our students and community, and we will continue to collaborate with our partners at the Auraria Campus Police Department to ensure the well-being of our campus,” Davidson said.  

The University continues to promote a culture of safety and dialogue, supported by the Freedom of Expression policy and the ACPD’s First Amendment Assemblies policy and resources like student conflict resolution services. 

FAFSA/CASFA processing expected to begin soon, students encouraged to submit streamlined form

The U.S. Department of Education has provided additional info regarding inflation adjustments, which will impact Student Aid Index, SAI, (previously the Expected Family Contribution) figures for the 2024-25 FAFSA. Schools can anticipate receipt of FAFSA applications by mid-March. CASFA processing will be temporarily paused until mid-March so the Colorado Department of Higher Education can adjust for inflation, but students can still complete the application.  

The FAFSA is also still live; however, the U.S. Department of Education continues to update the application for inflation. Users who were not able to submit the application due to lack of a Social Security number will also find a temporary workaround that allows them to submit an incomplete application just to secure an application date (if there is a dire need). MSU Denver has extended its FAFSA-application target deadline to May 3 to give students extra time to submit. Despite some challenges, the changes to the 2024-2025 FAFSA show promise such as the calculation to the new SAI and the reduced application completion time. The SAI focuses on aid eligibility rather than an exact payment number like the EFC. This change maximizes Pell Grant eligibility and potentially the student’s institutional aid. Additionally, the MSU Denver FAFSA Simplification Committee is constantly reviewing state and federal aid changes. Members are working to provide the most accurate information by updating webpages and communications, developing tutorial videos, providing training and workshops and more. The comprehensive communication action plan includes flyers, social-media posts, text messages, emails, internal communications, parent- and student-supporter outreach, media interviews and plans for more proactive monitoring and workshops, ongoing staff training and Banner updates. “We’ll continue to be flexible with families as we continue to learn,” said Kerline Eglaus, Ed.D., executive director of the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.  

Long Huynh, D.B.A., chief enrollment officer, also noted that according to the latest report from the Department of Education, across Colorado school districts, we are looking at about 20% lower in the total FAFSA application completions for the 2024-25 academic year compared with the previous year. The latest report from the Department of Education on Colorado school districts estimates that FAFSA application completions will be 20% lower for the 2024-25 academic year compared with the previous year.  

For the latest information regarding FAFSA changes, visit the 2024-25 FAFSA Changes webpage. 

AHEC Master Plan paused to gather additional input 

The Auraria Board of Directors will pause a planned April vote on the Auraria Campus Master Plan to gather another round of community feedback. An additional town-hall meeting was held Thursday and a second will be hosted today at noon. 

Learn more about the project. 

The need to educate our students on Artificial Intelligence and its potential for efficiencies  

Sam Jay, Ph.D., director of Faculty Affairs, presented on the University’s exploration of artificial-intelligence tools and upcoming workshops 

Jay explained that AI has the potential to be applied to more personalized learning, course-content development, curriculum development, automating some administrative tasks, enhancing research and offering virtual learning environments.  

Jay is working with colleagues to develop guidance that will help employees protect institutional data and is developing recommendations for syllabus language with regard to AI use and learning objectives. Jay is also spearheading a workshop series for all Roadrunners to explore the tool and move toward greater awareness and safe application. The initial workshop will be held March 29 from 1-2:45 p.m.  Stay tuned for signup information. 

Employee Engagement Action Plans are underway 

Results from the Energage Employee Engagement Survey show overall workplace satisfaction at 59%, down 4 percentage points from the same survey conducted in January 2022. 

  • More than 80% of respondents said their job is meaningful and that their manager cares about their concerns.   
  • Employees also appreciate flexibility that provides work-life balance and the University’s strong values, which make them feel they are part of something meaningful.    

Areas of opportunity include addressing concerns about compensation, inefficient processes and a disconnect with senior managers.  

Deans and vice presidents have already shared action plans to address employee concerns specific to their results with Human Resources. They will continue sharing updates throughout the spring semester, and the Early Bird will report on key areas of progress throughout the coming year.    

Other news  

  • The Tuition Assistance Military 60% Return Policy will advance to Davidson for approval. 
  • Initial findings of the Compensation Equity Study will be reported by the end of the semester.   
  • The 2024 Campus Climate Survey is now open and is specifically geared toward diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Full results will be shared next fall.  
  • The fifth annual Roadrunners Who Soar Awards ceremony is April 4. As there is limited seating, Roadrunners who have not received an invitation are invited to tune in via livestream. 
  • Mark your calendars for Spring Commencement on May 10 at the Denver Coliseum. The keynote will be delivered by alumna and Colorado U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen. 
  • Staff Senate elections are open through Monday, and members are continuing conversations on graduate tuition benefits. 
  • Day of Giving is April 11. 
  • Mandatory trainings must be completed by March 15.