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Since 1965, Metropolitan State University of Denver has transformed the lives of students, served as a courageous leader in higher education and boldly advanced the well-being of metro Denver communities. Throughout its history, the University has been known as a gateway to opportunity through broad access, quality academics and education relevant to the Colorado economy.
They are innovators, high achievers and agents of change. They have transformed MSU Denver, the state of Colorado and beyond. Around here, we call these incredible individuals Roadrunners.
Professor of history
"For 49 years, this professor has shown students the future by examining the past."Read Stephen's Story
"Brian Elson's MSU Denver education prepared him for a successful career in government relations."Read Brian's Story
Roadrunner makes a splash
"You've heard of Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, but did you know her coach is an MSU Denver alum?"Read Todd's Story
Writing her life
"As a senior advisor in the mayor's office, this alumna uses stories to bring communities together."Read Rowena's Story
Where dreams are made
"Accounting alumnus Irv Bisnov says MSU Denver put him on the path to success."Read Irv's Story
In good health
"As CEO of Provident Healthcare, alumnus Bill Nooning helms a network of care providers who put patients first."Read Bill's Story
Forge a path
"This nursing alumna didn't know how far her MSU Denver experience would take her."Read Cheryl's Story
Architect of glory
"Coach Mike Dunlap's high-risk, high-reward approach brought two national championships to the Roadrunners."Read Mike's Story
"This alumna shattered the glass ceiling in her meteoric rise to success."Read Rita's Story
The science of business
"This alumnus thought he'd be a doctor, but he wound up quenching his professional thirst at Coke."Read Patrick's Story
"Carlos Fresquez's MSU Denver roots run deeper than most, and his love of MSU Denver shows that."Read Carlos' Story
"This civil rights pioneer and MSU Denver professor lived what she believed."Read Rachel's Story
"Alumnus Jon Robinson knows a good investment when he sees one."Read Jon's Story
Gridiron to graduation
"He was a Super Bowl champion with the Broncos. Now, this alum is a champion for others."Read Tyrone's Story
Protect and Serve
"This alumnus protects your privacy in today's global information society."Read Hugo's Story
Viva Rich Castro!
"This legendary alum and Hispanic leader's legacy of transformation lives on."Read Rich's Story
"Longtime professor Ken Phillips is helping to transform advanced manufacturing education."Read Ken's Story
Health care leader
"She may have the C-suite title, but this alumna's first love is still patient care."Read Brenda's Story
"Alumnus Robert Rizzuto says his alma mater pushed him to a higher level."Read Robert's Story
Be the change
"Alumna Gerie Grimes has spent her entire life giving back to the community."Read Gerie's Story
Going the distance
"She's taught writing at MSU Denver since its founding and her commitment to students has never waivered."Read Sandra's Story
"Star athlete Marc Herschberger got something out of his MSU Denver education he never expected."Read Marc's Story
All that Jazz
"From legendary player and composer to University program director, he is creating something special."Read Ron's Story
From MSU Denver to Baghdad
"Lessons learned at his alma mater helped this alumnus become a master in diplomacy."Read Joe's Story
Fugitive from injustice
"This alumna is remembered as a civil-rights leader who made her mark on Colorado."Read Edna's Story
"This alumnus broke new ground as the country's first full-time marijuana editor."Read Richard's Story
Road to success
"Alumnus Jim Saccomano shares memories from his time with the Broncos and at MSU Denver."Read Jim's Interview
The sky's the limit
"Alumnus Paul DeHerrera worked his way from the ground up to the C-suite in avionics."Read Paul's Story
Service and leadership
"Alumna Katherine Archuleta reflects on her journey from MSU Denver to President Obama's leadership team."Read Katherine's Interview
Moving in the right direction
"This MSU Denver professor is helping combat human trafficking across the state and the nation."Read AnnJanette's Story
"As president, he transformed MSU Denver into what it is today. Learn the secret of his success."Read Stephen's Story
In October 1994, there was a hail storm so severe that it caused major flooding to the Auraria Bookstore. No texts were harmed in the incident.
In spring 1968, MSU Denver conferred a total of 53 associate degrees in arts and sciences to graduates. The University awarded its first bachelor’s degrees the following year.
On April 18, 1977, civil rights revolutionary Stokely Carmichael spoke at an open forum on the Auraria Campus.
Joe Fuentes was a respected local news man who was among the first group of people to enroll at MSU Denver. He later came back to teach journalism.
By the early 1980s, schools such as University of North Carolina, University of Michigan and University of Texas started looking into MSU Denver’s urban-college model, which was really the first of its kind, to see what they might learn from it.
The transformation of the Tivoli into a student center began with a referendum in April 1991. MSU Denver student fees, which increased from $19 to $22, covered the cost of the new amenities.
On Oct. 13, 1987, feminist activist and author Sonia Johnson gave a talk at the Metaphysics of Liberation conference at the student center. Nearly half a dozen women’s rights organizations at MSU Denver co-sponsored the event.
In the late-1970s, Oxford Hotel advertised a “room with bath $77.50 per month, near campus” in the school newspaper as an option to MSU Denver students for housing. The Oxford is also a Denver landmark known for being haunted.
In the early-1990s, MSU Denver students could take a political assassination class with History Professor Frank Nation, who encouraged a healthy debate around conspiracy theories.
In January 1994 Assistant Professor Josafat Curti took students to study ancient Mayan culture in Chiapas, Mexico, a region locked in a violent dispute between the Mexican government and the Zapatista National Liberation Army. The trip was a success due largely to Curti’s creative negotiations with fighters from both sides of the conflict
An MSU Denver organization called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan helped facilitate a rally of more than 1,000 Latino Denver Public School students and their supporters at the Auraria Campus on Sept. 14, 1994, to protest the treatment of Hispanic youth in the primary education system.
On Oct. 12, 1977, former Sen. John Carroll, who served in U.S. Congress from 1947-50, presented his academic papers at a reception and announced the establishment of a Western political history institute at MSU Denver.
MSU Denver was created by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado in House Bill 349 on May 5, 1963, at 11:56 a.m. It was based on a 99-page plan known as the “Green Report,” named for the color of folder in which it was delivered.
MSU Denver was the first college in Colorado to offer certification-level training in wine, a unique opportunity made possible through a partnership with the International Sommelier Guild that started in 2003.
Across the 1980s and 90s, MSU Denver’s biggest fundraiser was an annual party called the “Plain and Fancy Ball.” Members of the Broncos, Nuggets and local media personalities such as Peter Boyles regularly participated in the event.
Veterans Upward Bound is one of the longest-running organizations at MSU Denver. It started in 1972 to provide academic assistance to soldiers returning from the Vietnam War and continues to help veterans acclimate to college today.
On Sept. 27, 1996, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Oliver North debated a broad range of domestic policy issues, including race relations, citizens’ rights and the proper role of government in U.S. society at a tri-institutional event supported by MSU Denver.
The first enrollees that flocked to MSU Denver in the late 1960s were referred to by local officials and the media as “the thundering herd from the lower third,” because anybody who graduated high school was admitted – an open-enrollment policy that continues today.
In 1971, English faculty made the first push for expulsion of a student who was openly running a term paper writing business, which had become a customary service at the time.
In 1972, MSU Denver students could go to grocery and clothing stores across Denver on certain days to register for classes.
On April 25, 1991, jazz legend Wynton Marsalis performed at Denver’s Paramount Theater with the MSU Denver symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble in a concert put on by the University.
Virginia Castro, often overshadowed by the work of her husband Richard, was recognized for her own impressive community work as the 1992 Plain and Fancy Ball “Person of the Year.”
In fall of 1980, Shanghai Normal University in China and MSU Denver exchanged three instructors. The Chinese faculty came to learn hospitality and teach cultural dynamics. The Roadrunners taught American culture and studied computer technology.
In 1968, the Masquerade Ball at MSU Denver featured music by the MSC Players and 10-cent crystal ball readings from Esmeralda the Mysterious. It was held at the first Student Center, downtown on Bannock Street.
Ninth Street Park on the Auraria Campus was largely restored in 1977 by Historic Denver, Inc. for about $950,000. The strip of historic buildings comprises the oldest residential city block left intact in Denver.
On June 6, 1977, the student newspaper published a review of the first-ever Star Wars movie, which proclaimed that the “splendid special effects” were worth the $3.50 admission.
Prior to being Colorado State Representative from 1982-89, Robert Bowen was elected MSU Denver student body president in 1969 and mobilized a grassroots campaign that contributed to the establishment of the tri-institutional Auraria Campus.
Rand McNally Jr., Ph.D., was a nuclear physicist who worked on the the first atomic bomb. He spoke at an MSU Denver lecture series on Nov. 12, 1986, just prior to the release of a movie based on his experiences called “State of Emergency,” starring Martin Sheen.
Nearly $600,000 had already been collected for an MSU Denver-only student center by 1972 when the Auraria Board of Directors began leaning toward a tri-institutional facility instead.
Former professor of sociology, the late Rachel B. Noel, was the first African-American to be elected to the Denver Public School Board, a landmark event that occurred in 1965. A visiting distinguished professorship was created in Noel’s honor and continues at MSU Denver today.
A bust of Martin Luther King Jr. created by MSU Denver art student Ron Kessinger in 1969 was displayed at Denver’s Manual High School for 45 years until it went missing in May 2015. The sculpture was quickly found in the home of the artist, who had taken it to perform restoration.
On Oct. 19, 1968, Allan Cohen, Ph.D., who worked with Timothy Leary at U.C. Berkeley, shared his research on psychedelic drugs at the MSU Denver student center. He was joined by Harvard graduate Rich Chapman who spent a year in India comparing the effects of psychedelics to Eastern spiritual practices.
On one day in the 1970s, 18 students were cited for jaywalking in just 90 minutes at the intersection of 10th and Lawrence streets as they attempted to get to class on time. That location is now a footpath on the Auraria Campus.
In nature, a group of roadrunners gathered together is referred to as either a “marathon” or “race.” In fall 2014, there were 21,179 Roadrunners enrolled in the MSU Denver marathon.
During Ken Phillips’ six-year tenure as MSU Denver’s first official president, enrollment increased more than sixfold from an initial 1,189 to more than 7,200.