The first word

While the next 50 years are likely to bring challenges, MSU Denver will meet them with innovation, creativity and its inimitable “scrappy” style.

By Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.

Publish Date: April 13, 2016

Dr. Jordan

President Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.

It’s fitting that we examine “The Road Ahead” in the spring issue of Metropolitan Denver Magazine since springtime is about new beginnings and remarkable growth. You can see evidence of both at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

The phrase “adapt or die” may be familiar to those who saw the 2011 film, “Moneyball.” For me, that phrase sums up the state of higher education in the 21st century. The challenges facing academic institutions are accelerating, and if we don’t evolve, we may be forced to shut our doors.

But here’s the good news – thanks to its tumultuous establishment in 1965, MSU Denver has a “scrappy” quality that makes it highly adaptable in any landscape. One of the ways we’re adapting is through the creation of public-private partnerships. These partnerships have generated new revenue streams, while also supporting academic programs, adding scholarships and creating valuable community connections.

Our Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center is a great example of how industry and public universities can work together for their own benefit as well as the economic betterment of the community. When we began the project we already had a successful hospitality education program, and believed a hotel was a natural fit because it fulfilled our goal of connecting to the community while creating on-the-job training for students. Today, our Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events has grown substantially and is widely considered the best baccalaureate hospitality management program in the region. Since the hotel opened in 2012, average occupancy has been about 77 percent with more than 150 sell-out nights. To date, we are $700,000 ahead of our initial estimates.

Another successful public-private partnership is our Aerospace and Engineering Sciences initiative. After hearing that Colorado’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies couldn’t find sufficient local talent to support their growth, I spoke with faculty from numerous disciplines, and we worked with industry leaders to understand their needs. The result is a first-of-its kind curriculum that will train the most skilled, workforce-ready graduates in the nation. Our curriculum is uniting multiple disciplines under one roof: the $60 million, cutting-edge facility will open in 2017. In addition, the AES Building will host Colorado’s only Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Sciences.

We continue to search for new partnerships, including the one we established recently with the Detroit Institute of Music Education, an exciting endeavor that will offer MSU Denver students opportunities to take courses online and at the DIME Detroit campus. We‘re creating new academic programs in rapid response to industry needs. In light of Colorado’s dynamic brewing industry – the state ranks No. 3 nationwide in its number of breweries – we introduced a brewing degree program last fall, offering undergraduate degrees in brewing and brewpub operations. Looking ahead, the development of a health care institute that would serve as an umbrella for MSU Denver’s current medical academic programs is one of our highest institutional priorities (see p. 23).

I encourage you to look ahead by saving the date of June 4, 2016, to attend MSU Denver’s “Summer Soiree.” The event is the culmination of our yearlong celebration of the University’s golden anniversary and it will be a festive evening recognizing 50 years of history and success. Join Denver community leaders, MSU Denver alumni and students to commemorate the impact the University has had on our economy, culture and society over the past half-century. The event will take place on the Student Success Building lawn with all proceeds going to benefit undergraduate scholarships. Look for more details as the date draws near. It promises to be a night you won’t forget.

Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.