Steve Monaco, form Health Center executive director, at a podium.
Steve Monaco, former executive director of the Health Center at Auraria. Photo by Joshua Geurink

After serving the Auraria Campus for 34 years, Health Center Executive Director Steve Monaco retired in December.

“For almost 35 years on the Auraria Campus, Steve Monaco has built one of the most innovative, values-driven health clinics on a university campus in the entire country,” said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Steve is the epitome of servant leader. He relentlessly supports his staff. He is focused on meeting students’ needs through direct services and by thoughtfully putting their needs first in benefits negotiations.”

Through more than three decades of service, Monaco has strategically guided the Health Center from providing limited healthcare services to today’s model, which provides wraparound services including comprehensive medical and mental health care. He was also instrumental in helping students get access to quality health insurance and for establishing the Health Center as an in-network medical provider for the major health insurance carriers in Colorado, including Colorado Medicaid. Monaco stated that he believes health insurance and access to quality medical care directly contribute to improve student retention.

“So many of our students never had access to health care,” Monaco said. “Our goal has always been to offer convenient, timely, accessible and low-cost medical services to students, faculty and staff on the Auraria campus. Over the years, we heard time and time again from students that the care they received at the Health Center at Auraria was either some of the best they have ever received, or the only health care they had ever attained.” 

Steve Monaco, executive director, Health Center at Auraria

Monaco’s leadership was also critical during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Health Center, in collaboration with government officials, turned the 7th street garage into the state’s largest Covid-19 testing/vaccination center, creating “an excellent model for others to emulate,” according to Monaco. These services were in addition to the Health Center staying open for clinical services while the rest of campus was shut down, something Monaco felt was essential for the well-being of the campus community. 

Monaco says two things kept him at the Health Center for so long: serving students and surrounding staff members. 

 “First, it was service students who were extremely appreciative of the healthcare services they had immediate access to and seeing them succeed in their academic pursuits,” Monaco said. ”And secondly, my professional staff. My team at the Health Center has been wonderful to work with throughout the years and they will always be an important part of my extended family. They have gone far beyond what I would have ever expected of them on so many different occasions. On a daily basis they provide the campus community with incredibly high quality medical and mental health services.” 

Monaco says he looks forward to spending retirement continuing to improve his home with his husband and new puppy. He also feels great about how he is leaving the Health Center. 

“I have been so fortunate to have such an outstanding team by my side throughout my tenure at MSU Denver,” Monaco said. “I leave with 100% confidence in my team’s ability to meet the demands of the next decade and will watch from afar as they address future priorities and student needs.”