To say Barb Grogan is passionate about Metropolitan State University of Denver is a bit of an understatement. In conversation, her infectious enthusiasm for all things Roadrunner bubbles over, making it impossible not to get swept away in the excitement. From faculty and staff to University leadership, she loves it all – but there’s nothing she loves more than the students.

In 2012, after learning that the MSU Denver Board of Trustees and then-President Stephen Jordan, Ph.D., decided to create a special tuition rate for undocumented students, Grogan was moved to “honor their courage and conviction” with a gift supporting DACA students. Not long after, she met the students whose lives she impacted.

Barb Grogan standing with the Tivoli in the background

“I got to know MSU Denver through the eyes of the students before I really engaged with anyone else,” she said. “They shared with me how welcome they felt, how it was changing their lives, how their professors were accessible and helpful – it was amazing to hear.”

Those interactions inspired Grogan to join the board in 2014, where she has been a loyal advocate for MSU Denver students ever since.

Grogan recently made a $100,000 gift to the University, establishing the Student Success Endowed Fund. The fund’s purpose is to expand programs and activities that provide students with the support and resources they need to successfully navigate their path to graduation, ensure MSU Denver meets students’ basic needs during unexpected catastrophic events and engage more students through wraparound support services, meeting each student’s unique needs.

She describes her desire to provide this type of assistance in the context of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which says that achieving one’s full potential – or self-actualization – can only happen once someone has their psychological and basic needs met.

“We can’t expect students facing extraordinary life challenges to succeed if their needs aren’t met,” said Grogan. “When the University has the resources to provide our students with what they need, they can reach self-actualization, which, in this context, is graduation.”

Studies show college students who receive comprehensive wraparound services have higher rates of improved mental health, social-emotional development and academic learning, including retention and graduation rates. For example, MSU Denver programs like the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative and the Reisher Scholar Program boast retention rates of 97% and 95%, respectively.

“This amazing gift allows us to funnel essential resources to the programs with the most critical needs,” said Braelin Pantel, Ph.D., associate vice president of Student Engagement & Wellness/Dean of Students. “Because of Barb’s generosity, we will be able to actualize our mission to support student success and have the most significant impact possible.”

Grogan is dedicated to ensuring all MSU Denver students have what they need to succeed in the classroom and the world after graduation.

“Together, we can empower our students, alleviate their fear and give them the knowledge and resources they need to have a vision for their future,” she said. “This is the kind of work I love doing, and being at MSU Denver is why my heart is so happy and fulfilled.”