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The Jordan legacy: Becoming a university

President Jordan’s struggle to initiate a momentous transformation.

By Mark Cox

April 12, 2017

Remember Metro State? It already seems a long time ago, but President Jordan endured a titanic, seven-year battle to bring about a momentous change.

What’s in a name? Sometimes, quite a lot, actually.

Certainly, when MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan – as a bright-eyed newcomer – stood on a stage in 2005 and told his then Metropolitan State College of Denver audience that he saw their future as a preeminent urban university, there was a collective sharp intake of breath. Possibly even a few snickers.

Because, and it is hard to fully appreciate this from our current rosy perspective, attaining university status was not by any means a given at that point.

For one thing, some people simply did not like the idea of their beloved, scrappy Metro State becoming a university. Then there was the delicate topic of what such a university might be called, which rustled quite a few non-Roadrunner feathers.

Nonetheless, in 2010 Jordan persuaded the Board of Trustees to at least look into the option of a name-change, which it did. Meetings, presentations and focus groups followed. Then research. The result? A resounding 80 percent of the 9,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who completed the online survey or participated in one-on-one interviews or focus groups wanted a name change.

People felt – correctly as it turned out – that university status would increase the value of an MSU Denver degree and eliminate the misperception that the institution was a community college. Two local businessmen wrote an op-ed in the Denver Post, stating, “There is confusion about Metro State in the minds of some local employers.”

At the official naming ceremony on April 18, 2012, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the new name into law before a rapturous audience in the Student Success Building lobby.

With seven years of hard work and constant persuading finally behind him, Jordan stated, “This might be the best day yet to be a Roadrunner! This isn’t the end, though. Rather, it’s the beginning of a new era for Metro State.”

And it was.

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