President Stephen Jordan today urged faculty and staff members to join him in building on MSU Denver’s bold decisions and ambitious vision to make the institution’s 48th academic year—and its first as a university—a time of big plans, more success and continued transformation.
His speech today at the annual Welcome Back Breakfast in the King Center also served as a vehicle to announce formation of an Information Technology Strategic Planning Task Force that will build a consensus on what technology is needed to achieve the vision reflected in the 2012-17 Strategic Plan: A Time of Transformation.
The president also addressed challenges facing the University, particularly a 2 percent dip in overall enrollment for fall, and the funding uncertainties facing an institution that is the lowest-funded in the state and among the lowest in the nation.
“While there is no need to panic, we do need to be concerned,” he said.
‘Make no little plans. …Make big plans.’
Jordan said that while recovering from knee replacement surgery he read “The Devil in the White City,” by Erik Larson. The book tells the story of architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham, who was tasked with transforming the swampy Jackson Park in Chicago into a venue for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair—The White City.
Throughout his speech Jordon drew parallels between Burnham’s accomplishments and the transformation of MSU Denver and, he cited a quote from Burnham that says, in part, “Make no little plans. …Make big plans.”
“At MSU Denver we now have a new plan, a bold plan,” he said of the five-year strategic plan.
To underscore the importance of the document, faculty and staff at the breakfast received a brochure that summarizes the plan and small, stackable building blocks like LEGOs imprinted with shortened versions of the plan’s four strategic themes:
· Urban Land Grant (Community Engagement and Regional Stewardship in the document)
· University Culture (Institutional Culture)
· University Resources (Institutional Resources)
· Student Success (Student and Academic Success)
In announcing the new IT task force, Jordan said it will be guided by the strategic plan. For instance, the task force would recommend ways to attract external entities to the technology in the University’s new Center for Advanced Visualization and Experiential Analysis in the Student Success Building, which aligns with the Community Engagement and Regional Stewardship theme.
Challenges and tough decisions
Jordan said that over the last seven years the University’s No. 1 challenge has been funding. This year’s 2 percent overall enrollment decline, which follows a 2.65 percent dip last year, could mean a $2 million budget reduction, he said.
He credited Vice President for Administration, Finance and Facilities Natalie Lutes for setting aside a reserve that appears will accommodate the decrease in enrollment for this academic year.
“However, there are other continuing challenges swirling around our budget that may have additional impact,” he said, including additional resident enrollment declines. One strategy being explored, he said, is increasing the University’s out-of-state student population, while assuring MSU Denver’s historical commitment to serving Colorado residents, particularly from the seven-county metropolitan area, does not change.
Jordan noted that during the three years Burnham worked on creating The White City, he made numerous tough decisions. So, too, did the University leadership in offering the Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate to undocumented students. As of last Friday, 238 students —136 new students and 102 continuing—have qualified for the new rate and are registered for the fall semester, a tally that brought applause from the audience.
No longer a ‘quiet giant’
Jordan said it’s once again time to tell the MSU Denver story, considering all the University’s innovations. “We must no longer be a quiet giant. This is not the same institution.”
Among those innovations are the emergence of an MSU Denver neighborhood anchored by the Student Success Building and the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center. Jordan referenced an interdisciplinary pilot project that will recycle cooking oil from the HLC. He also cited the new athletic fields to be built in 2013, the name change, faster-than-expected progress toward becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution and increasing numbers of faculty of color.
Jordan also said that the University’s three self-supporting graduate programs are projected to make a profit this year, and announced that the national Khan Academy will develop a math remediation lab at MSU Denver, making the University the national demonstration site for four-year institutions.
“I am thrilled to start a new academic year, and to work with every one of you in making big plans for the mighty future of MSU Denver,” Jordan concluded. “We have already accomplished so much, and I look forward to a year filled with more success— and, as always, a few unforeseen and unpredictable challenges along the way.
“..let’s make it a great year to be a Roadrunner!”
The Welcome Back ceremony also provided the opportunity to recognize the Distinguished Service, Faculty Senate Teaching Excellence, Golden Key International Honour Society, Length- of-Service and Emeritus awardees.
Editor’s note: A video and copy of President Jordan’s speech will be available tomorrow at http://www.msudenver.edu/president/speeches//
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