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Phase 1

JAN | FEB | MAR - 2019

Getting Organized


  • Launched process
  • Established Strategic Planning Team
  • Selected consultant to provide independent perspective and support to the SPT


MARCH 2019

  • Finalized questions for SPT-facilitated conversations with faculty, staff and students
  • Launched Strategic Plan website and online idea catcher
  • Developed Strategic Plan communications plan, talking points and fact sheet

Phase 2

APR | MAY | JUN | JUL - 2019

Data Gathering and Engagement


  • Introduced SPT and defined its role and expectations in student, staff and faculty data collection
  • Hosted Launch and Learn event with State Demographer Elizabeth Garner
  • Facilitated conversations with Washington D.C. thought leaders
  • Held two Townhall Meetings for faculty, staff and students to share feedback
  • Facilitated conversations with MSU Denver’s Community Cabinet
  • Hosted Launch and Learn event with Tami Door of the Downtown Denver Partnership
  • Engaged with more than 500 people reaching over 50 groups on campus, including:
    • Student-athletes
    • Financial Aid and Scholarships
    • Career Services
    • Chemistry Department
    • Industrial Design Department
    • Undergraduate Studies
    • Class of first-year students
    • Center for Equity and Student Achievement
    • Chicano/a Studies Department
    • Africana Studies Department
    • Business Intelligence


  • Drafted and finalized external outreach survey with feedback from SPT and department chairs  
  • Began engaging with external stakeholders
  • Created SPT subcommittees: 1) Metrics That Matter, 2) Student Outreach, 3) Faculty and Staff Outreach, 4) Aspirational Institutions and 5) Place Your Bets (housing, online, continuing education and new and existing spaces)
  • Facilitated conversation with the Foundation Board

Fast Fact: All told, more than 2,000 people engaged in this planning process, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, past and current trustees, business leaders, prospective students and parents.

Phase 3

AUG | SEP - 2019

Making Sense of the issues


  • Used gathered data to agree on four themes for concept papers: Excellence in Academic Practices; Infrastructure and Operational Excellence; A Place To Be; and Build and Launch Student Success
  • Drafted concept papers and shared them with campus community
  • Hosted Vision Conference on Sept. 23, which brought together more than 60 internal and external stakeholders to review each concept paper and begin work on preferred future statement


Phase 4

OCT | NOV | DEC - 2019

Vision Building


  • Reviewed and refined themes to create preferred future statement, which informed development of five pillars


Phase 5

JAN | FEB | MAR - 2020

Goals Creation


  • Defined five pillars at Senior Leadership Retreat that will form the foundation of Strategic Plan 2025
    • The pillars are foundational principles that hold up the vision. Remove a pillar, and the vision is at risk of collapsing
  • Reviewed and revised pillars with SPT to create final drafts:
Civic and Economic Catalyst
MSU Denver activates the talents and passions of our students, alumni, faculty and staff. As an Anchor Institution with a vibrant urban campus, we serve as a civic, economic and talent-rich catalyst to meet the opportunities and challenges facing Colorado and its diverse communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
MSU Denver embodies diversity in all its rich representations and expressions. It is who we are. We commit ourselves to justice that provides a foundation for equity and inclusion. We mend internal and external inequities through the cultivation of a vibrant, healthy community.
Agile and Sustainable
MSU Denver achieves agility by investing in our human talent. We improve our existing physical infrastructure with an eye toward environmentally sustainable practices and we work together to create a culture of continuous process improvement. We accomplish sustainability by expanding revenue streams that diversify and grow our academic offerings, endowments and partnerships to benefit our community.
Student Access and Achievement
MSU Denver attracts, develops and graduates tenacious students who realize their goals and craft their futures. Regardless of where they have been, we meet them where they are and launch them to where they want to go. Through an affordable, flexible and holistic education, we help students build essential skills grounded in a multicultural and global perspective that lead to graduation, followed by career and life success.
Student-Centered Academic Excellence
MSU Denver prides itself on a richly talented faculty comprised of teacher-scholars. We deliver a relevant, rigorous and innovative academic experience. We empower our faculty to support our diverse students in growing as scholars, becoming leaders in their fields, and succeeding in their personal, professional and civic lives.



  • Hosted Goals Conference Feb. 14.
    • Worked with strategic plan implementors such as associate vice presidents, deans, associate deans and chairs to create qualitative goals for each pillar
  • Finalize vision statement 

Futures Team Pivot

APR | MAY | JUN | JUL| AUG - 2020

Post-pandemic scenario planning

APRIL 2020

In late spring, President Davidson asked the Strategic Planning Team to pause its efforts of writing the 2025 Strategic Plan. The group was recommissioned as the Futures Team and tasked with examining post-pandemic scenarios for MSU Denver and higher education overall.


During the summer, the Futures Team broke into groups to research and discuss ideas from the lens of particular stakeholders: faculty/staff, students, parents, competitors, government and business partners.

Some of the broader trends that emerged from that work included:

  • Flattening or decreasing student enrollments
  • Increased competition
  • Decreased funding
  • Cost-cutting opportunities
  • Expanding online education
  • Racial justice, healing and dialogue

The team also participated in a post-COVID-19 workshop in July, followed by a Game It Out exercise on Aug. 15. Members of the Board of Trustees, Community Cabinet and Foundation Board joined the team for the half-day post-pandemic scenario exercise.

Phase 6

APR | MAY | JUN - 2020

Strategic Implementation


  • Provide president with Futures Team recommendations for how MSU Denver can adapt to a changed environment
  • Refine pillars based on summer-scenario planning by Futures Team and share with community for feedback
  • Discuss scenario planning and pillars at Oct. 15 board retreat
  • Draft vision statement and plan and provide to internal and external stakeholders for feedback in November
  • Secure final approval at December Board of Trustees meeting

Launch: January 2021


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