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A newly-minted Roadrunner

After a second day of community meetings, Janine Davidson, Ph.D., is named the incoming MSU Denver president.

By Cory Phare

February 15, 2017

Starting in July 2017, MSU Denver Roadrunners will have a new president.

The Board of Trustees held an executive session, in which it unanimously voted to approve Janine Davidson, Ph.D., as the next University president. Prior to the vote, Davidson took part in seven open forums to meet the MSU Denver community.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, she met with alumni, administrative leadership, and department chairs to field questions and discuss her background, after meeting with other constituents the day prior.

In the alumni forum, Davidson reinforced her dedication to student success as providing a self-reflexive loop connecting people to the University, from before they start attending classes until after they’ve successfully completed their degrees. She also answered questions about raising the school’s visibility, the intersection of students and alumni, and post-graduation engagement as “...more than writing a check.”

Davidson also addressed the need to set high expectations for accountability, to continue telling the MSU Denver story to legislators and amplify voices that may not currently have a seat at the table.

“With an increasing number of graduates, we have more opportunity to build on MSU Denver as a home,” she said. “How do we make our students and alumni feel continually connected?”

At the next forum with the deputy provost, campus deans, academic and administrative AVPs, Davidson fielded questions about shared governance implementation, academic freedom and entrepreneurship within higher education.

When asked about her decision-making philosophy, she stressed that everyone needs to be in the room and ideally championing the solutions they’ve developed.

“At the end of the day there may be ideas that don’t win out, but we want to make those decisions out of conviction rather than ignorance,” said Davidson. “And if people are empowered to shepherd the ideas from the beginning – then we’re cooking with gas.”

In the department chair forum, Davidson repeated a common theme from her visit here: With commitment to access, affordability and diversity, MSU Denver serves a critical need within higher education by “...holding the line on achieving the American dream.”

One topic that emerged was the role and opportunity for faculty research in a teaching-centered institution. Davidson committed to exploring this issue and engaging further with faculty when she begins her term in July.

Other questions she fielded addressed recruiting and retaining of diverse faculty, the importance of the humanities to a university education, and employing a listening-centered approach to shared governance. When asked further about this last point and her leadership style, she reiterated the need to be open, inclusive and to delegate.

“We have to hire good people and support their ability to get better,” said Davidson. “I want to surround myself with smart individuals who can do things I can’t, and actively engage them as experts in different fields, at different levels.”

Following the final open forum, the Board of Trustees held an executive session. Board Chair Michelle Lucero began by reviewing the applicant selection process and thanking Search Committee Chair Rob Cohen. Commentary acknowledging Lucero’s contributions and the success of the search also followed from Vice Chair Jack Pogge, Trustee Barbara Grogan and Trustee Elaine Berman.

President Jordan then addressed the Board, complimenting its selection and handling of the search process. He also commended the selection of Davidson and expressed full faith in her leadership abilities.

“Anyone who deals with admirals and generals can go eye to eye with anything she faces here,” said Jordan. “[Davidson] shares the passion and belief in the promise of an MSU Denver education. I could not be more hopeful.”

After a unanimous vote in favor of approving Davidson as the next president of MSU Denver, she briefly addressed the Board and audience.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be here, selected as the next president of MSU Denver and part of this incredible mission” she said. “I’m anxious to get started and continue learning more about this wonderful place.”

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