The May 19 meeting of the President’s Cabinet began on a somber note, as President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., led the body in a moment of silence in acknowledgment of the tragic shooting and hate crime that occurred recently in Buffalo, New York. Davidson invited those gathered to send “our strength and healing to the families who are grieving and perhaps to reflect on how we can be a source of healing and guidance for our own communities and, importantly, for the next generation — our students — who look to us for guidance and context in these difficult times.” 

Reflecting on this event and other challenges faced by the University community and beyond, Davidson also highlighted a number of reasons to celebrate. 

“Everywhere around us are reminders of how unbroken things are — of the amazing impact MSU Denver, and the work we do here, has on thousands of lives and on our community as a whole,” she said. “We are a role model for what America needs in higher education, and I want everyone on this campus, and especially the leaders in this room, to remember that, to be unabashedly proud of that and to continue to spread that word.” 

Among the reasons to celebrate over the past year, Davidson highlighted: 

  • A successful Commencement celebration. 
  • Powerful specialty graduation ceremonies. 
  • The appointment of John Masserini, D.M., as dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. 
  • The College of Business’ reaccreditation from AACSB. 
  • The impending establishment of the College of Health and Human Sciences and the College of Aerospace, Computing, Engineering and Design. 
  • National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation for the Cybersecurity Center. 
  • The ongoing development of the School of Education’s Office of Education Solutions.  
  • New initiatives such as the reverse-transfer articulation agreement, Finish What You Started, a partnership with Amazon, Grow With Google, the Roadrunner Promise and the expanded Displaced Aurarian Scholarship. 
  • The establishment of the Indigenous and Native Peoples’ Grant, a significant recent undertaking that exemplifies MSU Denver’s educational leadership and ability to move quickly on issues that matter to our community and students. 
  • Three Roadrunner athletic teams making NCAA Tournaments. 
  • A record 118 student-athletes on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. 
  • Advancement surpassing its fiscal goal of raising $7 million. 
  • The launch of a new University website and redesigned Early Bird and RED platforms.  
  • The development of the Office of Strategy. 
  • The selection of Russell Noles as the first alumnus and the first African American to chair the Board of Trustees. 
  • Hosting great events such as TEDxMSUDenver and visits from local and national leaders. 

Davidson also distributed President’s Awards to several deserving Roadrunners, including: 

  • Kaycee Gerhart, director of Government Affairs. 
  • Katie Joyce, special projects manager and assistant to the AVP/Dean of Students. 
  • Lindsey Coulter, internal communications manager. 
  • Jamie Hurst, J.D., executive director and assistant vice president for Strategic Engagement. 
  • The Data Analytics Team: Sean Petranovich, Ph.D., director of Data and Analytics; Kelsey Smith; Lucas Koike; Jeff Barr; Ellen Boswell; Wes Pembrook; Tony Calhoun; Eric Curry; Kori Thompson; Michael Salazar; Jim Egan

Experiential Learning for All aims to expand beyond internships  

Experiential Learning for All provides practical experiences for students and correlates to strong results. As of 2020, ELFA has showcased strong student outcomes in comparison with those Universitywide: 

  • 91% vs. 65% retention rate 
  • 3.24 grade point average vs. 2.8 
  • 82% six-year graduation rate vs. 18% 

Previously, Faculty Fellows examined barriers related to internships and developed recommendations that formed the initial work of ELFA. While focused on internship opportunities, this led to the creation of: 

  • Banking policy — Currently before the Handbook Committee, this sets a University standard for faculty members to receive credit while teaching internship courses. 
  • University Course 3980 — A course that will debut this fall that added a new prefix to make internships available to all regardless of major. 

The ELFA team is working on building awareness among students, staying on top of necessary paperwork and confronting funding gaps. ELFA turned to Marketing students who developed a marketing plan last fall, and Communication Design students developed material for marketing this spring. With around 70% of internships being unpaid, the ELFA team is advocating for increased base funding for Earn and Learn and Experiential Learning staff. 

The next step for ELFA is to expand beyond internships by investigating how to support and increase opportunities in service learning, undergraduate research, study abroad, job shadowing and more. The program has also been examining apprenticeships and other work-based learning by researching challenges with skill measurement, academic credit, consistent application across the University and discipline-specific concerns. 

Cabinet member updates: 

  • The Council of Chairs held votes on minor changes to Section II of the faculty employment handbook. The council voted in favor of changes in the tenure-and-promotion section and voted not in favor of changing evaluation guidelines and chair duties. 
  • University Communications and Marketing has been refocusing editorial and earned media strategies on enrollment by prioritizing stories associated with high-impact practices, including Finish What You Started, the Roadrunner Promise and the Epic Scholars Program. Readership has increased year-over-year by about 150%.  
    • A statewide ad campaign is two months in, with around 63,000 unique page views, an increase of more than 300% year-over-year.  
    • Statewide sentiment-survey results showed that the most important decision factors when students choose secondary education are:
      • Offering programs that students want 
      • Affordable tuition/valuable education 
      • Safety 
      • Availability of scholarships and financial aid 
  • Survey results also recommended: 
    • Informing students and families about programs MSU Denver offers 
    • Providing a sense of comfort regarding campus safety 
    • Showcasing the personalized experience 
    • Highlighting the value of an MSU Denver education 
    • Informing students about scholarships and financial aid  
    • Showing the convenience and benefits of being in a downtown location  
  • Advancement announced that University Events is now part of the Advancement Department. The department has also verbally raised $16.7 million, with $9.4 committed. Lastly, Jamie Hurst wanted to remind faculty and staff that MSU Denver has a partnership with the Colorado Rockies’ 50/50 Raffle and in return receives 10 tickets per home game that are available to reserve. Contact Hurst for more information.  
  • The School of Education noted the recently passed Removing Barriers to Educator Prep bill that will support student teaching, praxis fees, loan forgiveness and more. 
  • Newly elected Faculty Senate President Liz Goodnick, Ph.D., announced Faculty Senate election results.  
  • MSU Denver is recommending to the Board of Trustees that 21 faculty members be awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. Emeritus status for 11 recently retired faculty members will also be submitted, and 18 faculty members were promoted to full professor this year.  
  • Staff Senate elections are complete, and results will be announced soon. 
  • An open forum for the second candidate for executive director of Financial Aid and Scholarships is tentatively scheduled for Friday. The search for a chief enrollment officer is in progress, and the first finalist will be on campus Wednesday.  
  • May is Mental Health Month — visit the Early Bird for resources including online counseling and mindfulness training. MSU Denver has also hired two recruiters for the first time in University history who will focus on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff members. Also, Professional Development training began Wednesday.  
  • The Roadrunner baseball team qualified for its first-ever NCAA Tournament and played Texas A&M-Kingsville and Angelo State on May 19. The Roadrunners lost both games, though, as their historic season came to a close. MSU Denver is hosting the NCAA Division II softball national championship beginning today and will take place through Tuesday. Lastly, the end-of-year celebration will take place in person for first time since 2019 in the Tivoli Turnhalle on June 3, and tickets are still available.