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The Jordan legacy: Follow the leader(ship)

Where did all the years go? We take a quick tour through some highlights of President Jordan’s dynamic time at the University.

By Mark Cox

April 5, 2017

When Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D., first stepped onto a platform to address the University community as its new president in 2005, he came armed with a bold vision: to make MSU Denver the preeminent urban university in the United States.

His audience was a taken aback, to say the least. And now, even Jordan admits he was perhaps a little too bold.

“I may have been a little naïve as to the depth of the issues when I arrived,” he says with a chuckle, “and how tough they would be to resolve. Looking back, I probably could have been a bit more careful in my choice of words.”

But, fortune favors the brave. And 12 years later, MSU Denver is both a respected university and well on the way to reaching – and even surpassing – many of the lofty goals he set out in his rookie year.

It helped that Jordan was always a big believer in the power of planning. In those early years, he formulated – and later refreshed – a comprehensive strategic plan that provided a road map for all the successes that would follow. (Two quick examples: Student retention has risen from 56 percent to 75 percent, and the number of degrees awarded annually has jumped from 2,100 to 3,600.)

Perhaps the president’s greatest impact was felt at the state and federal legislatures. A constant presence at the State Capitol and a regular face in Washington education meetings, Jordan has – often through the sheer force of his personality – put MSU Denver on the legislative map.

There have been many highlights. In 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed new legislation confirming special tuition rates for undocumented students at the Auraria Campus precisely because MSU Denver had pioneered such change a year earlier. And, when Mayor Hancock opened the new $12 million Regency Athletics Complex in 2013, he spoke movingly of it transforming not just the campus but the city itself.

Throughout this dizzying whirl of activity – the countless meetings, networking and legislative work – Jordan has maintained a reputation for keeping his door open. Famously generous with his time, he has long been a familiar face at all kinds of events around campus. Over the course of a decade, he has spoken at literally hundreds of gatherings, both big and small.

Perhaps more than any president before him, Jordan has been the visible face of MSU Denver. Whether times were tough or progress was being made, his familiar face has been front and center, leading the charge.

From the beginning, he has been someone to rally behind: a true leader.

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