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Going out on top

President Stephen Jordan will retire – after 11 years and an impressive list of accomplishments – from the University on June 30, 2017.

September 8, 2016

Metropolitan State University of Denver President Stephen Jordan announced his retirement to the University community at today’s annual Welcome Back Breakfast. Jordan’s retirement will become effective June 30, 2017.  

“After considerable thought, Ruthie and I recently reached a place where we wanted to give the board notice of our intention to retire,” said Jordan. “I truly believe that after many years of working to advance the University, and overseeing tremendous growth and change, it is time for someone else to come in with new energy and an expanded vision.”

Jordan’s arrival in 2005 marked a new era at MSU Denver, one in which the University made major advances in student retention and graduation. A decade ago, the first-time retention rate for students was a meager 55 percent. This past fall, that rate climbed to 72 percent for students in the First Year Success Program.

Jordan also spearheaded initiatives developed specifically to recruit and support students of color, including the goal of achieving Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status by 2018. To be considered an HSI, 25 percent of a university’s full-time students need to be from Hispanic backgrounds. Since 2007, the number of MSU Denver students who identify as Hispanic jumped from 12.5 percent to 24.5 percent (including ASSET students).

Last year, students of color made up 37 percent of MSU Denver’s overall student population, and 31.6 percent of students were the first in their families to go to college.

Among his myriad accomplishments in this area, Jordan might be best remembered for the courageous stand he took on behalf of undocumented students, working with the MSU Denver Board of Trustees to create a special tuition rate that provided easier access to education. That bold move is widely recognized as heralding the passage of Colorado’s ASSET bill.

“Dr. Jordan has been a transformational leader and has built MSU Denver into a vibrant destination of choice as one of the best public urban universities in the nation,” MSU Denver Board Chair Michelle Lucero said. “Those are big shoes to fill, but the board is confident we will find the next great leader to carry the University’s mission forward.”

The trustees already have engaged AGB Search to run a national search for Jordan’s successor. Former MSU Denver Board of Trustees Chair Rob Cohen will chair the search committee.

“The committee will seek a broad representation of faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni as well as foundation and community members,” Lucero added.

Jordan’s work isn’t finished just yet. He plans to see several of his major initiatives through to completion before he steps away in June.

Those initiatives will build on an impressive resume.

Under his leadership, Metropolitan State College of Denver became Metropolitan State University of Denver. Five master’s degrees were created and launched. Ribbons were cut on three cutting-edge facilities with another on the way in June 2017.

Jordan also developed a national reputation for championing public-private partnerships that brought funding to the University, while also revolutionizing academic programs and benefiting the state of Colorado.

“When I arrived and laid out the vision of preeminence, people didn’t think we were capable of making it happen,” he said. “But there has been a huge culture shift since then. It took time, but today everyone understands the vision. Once that belief is built into a culture, it tends to remain there long beyond any one person or leader. Our people know who we are. They know what we are capable of achieving.” 

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