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Inside the President’s Cabinet

New members introduced, presentation from Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 10, 2019

President's Cabinet meeting in session.At the Oct. 9 President’s Cabinet meeting, President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., welcomed three new members: Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president, Diversity and Inclusion; Andrew Bonham, Ph.D., professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, chair of the Council of Chairs; and Rebecca Reid, learning and development specialist and newly elected Staff Senate president.

Matt Forcella, advisor, Psychology, and Sean Petranovich, Ph.D., lead data scientist, Business Intelligence, then presented progress from the President’s Advisory Council on Academic Excellence and Student Success. Earlier this year, the group conducted a faculty survey and focus groups on student retention and studied retention strategies that are successful at other institutions.

Survey results showed that more than two-thirds of the 400 faculty respondents believe it is their role and responsibility to promote retention, and many offer personalized attention and one-to-one advising and registration assistance. However, focus-group attendees highlighted the need for more academic-preparedness courses and noted that training and reduced caseloads would allow faculty to focus more on advising and retention.

“Regardless of position, it is everybody’s job at this University to support student retention," Davidson said. "In every interaction, always consider how you can help students succeed.”

Forcella noted that developing more preparedness and financial-support resources for students could be the most immediately effective in increasing retention, followed by increased support for undeclared students and improvements to advising.

Next, the council will further examine the data and allocate research topics to soon-to-be-formed working groups.

Policy updates

Nick Stancil, deputy general counsel, presented the Policy Advisory Committee-recommended Political Activity and Lobbying Policy. The new policy outlines that faculty and staff remain free to participate in political activities, provided they are not using University time, equipment or resources to do so and will not speak on behalf of the University about political topics. Those interested in advocating formally on behalf of the University are encouraged to check out MSU Denver Champions.

Evan Bowles, business analyst, Information Technology Services, former president, Council of Administrators, spoke about a policy to enable Staff Senate governance. The policy provides a clear indication of how staff members can participate in the governance process.

Reid introduced newly elected Staff Senate leadership and senators. Members include:

  • President - Rebecca Reid, learning and development specialist, Human Resources
  • Vice President - Jeremy VanHooser, diversity coordinator, Office of Diversity
  • Treasurer - Diane Yee, director, Campus Recreation
  • Secretary - Brandi Rideout, director, Alumni Relations
  • Divisional senators
    • Academic Affairs - Maggie Thulson, assistant to the vice provost for faculty affairs
    • Administration, Finance, Facilities and ITS - James Reyes,
    • Advancement - Shannon Roe, Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Advancement
    • College of Letters, Arts and Sciences - Gregory Singer, professional academic advisor, Psychological Sciences
    • College of Professional Studies - Amanda Campbell, assistant director of field education, Social Work
    • President’s Office and Strategy, Marketing and Communications and Athletics - Johanna Snow, executive assistant to the chief of staff/vice president of Strategy
    • School of Education - Brian Gunther, technical process and communications manager, School of Education
    • Student Affairs - Gustavo Negretti, assistant to the equity specialist, Office of Equal Opportunity
    • College of Business - Donelyn Jones, marketing advisor and affiliate faculty, College of Business
  • At-large senators
    • Angela Rodriguez, academic advisor and retention specialist, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
    • Charisma Martinez, HEP program assistant, Health Professions
    • Cory Phare, staff writer, Strategy, Marketing and Communications
    • Ellen Boswell, director, Institutional Research
    • John Wiltsie, administrative assistant III, Alumni Relations
    • Evan Bowles, business analyst, Information Technology Services
    • Kami Phillips, Faculty Affairs
    • Katrina McLaughlin, laboratory coordinator, Electrical Engineering Technology
    • Quan Tran, system engineer, ITS
    • Tara Munoz, program assistant II, Nutrition
    • Taylor Hase, supplemental instruction specialist, Student Affairs


  • Cabinet meetings will begin at 10 a.m. for the rest of the semester.
  • MSU Denver will again host Castro Visiting Professorship events, the Higher Education Diversity Summit and Latinx Graduation this academic year. To identify service and equity gaps, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will soon hold listening sessions and open forums.
  • MSU Denver’s new advertising campaign is visible across downtown, in the airport, on public transportation and in print, digital and radio formats through fall. Stay tuned for new takes on “Reimagine Possible” in January.
  • TEDx MSU Denver videos are available online as they are produced and released.
  • Concept papers produced during the Strategic Planning Team Visioning Conference are now available for feedback.
  • The School of Hospitality received a $1.54 million gift from Gina and Frank Day, and increased Homecoming participation helped raise $6,000 for the Student Emergency Fund.
  • The Roadrunner 5K raised a further $4,000 for the cross-country team. Homecoming 2020 will take place Sept. 28-Oct. 3.
  • The Student Government Assembly this year will focus on addressing food and housing insecurity and will dedicate $200 per month to the Roadrunner Food Pantry.
  • The Colorado Association of Science Teachers has selected Ingrid Carter, Ph.D., associate professor, Elementary Education and Literacy, as a 2019 Science Teacher of the Year. Elizabeth Parmelee, Ph.D., director, Undergraduate Studies, will serve on the national American Democracy Project steering committee.
  • Alumna Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s collection of short stories has been short-listed for the National Book Award in the fiction category.
  • Free College Application Day is Tuesday, and priority spring 2020 registration begins Oct. 28.
  • Adrienne Martinez has been elevated to associate vice president of Classroom to Career Initiatives. The new director of Industry Partnerships will be announced soon.
  • A new Student Care Center was established in Tivoli 343 and will include case management as well as oversight for EPIC Scholars, the Roadrunner Food Pantry, the Student Emergency Fund and more.
  • Roadrunner volleyball is leading its conference and is a contender for national Top 25 ranking.
  • October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stay tuned to the Early Bird for an ongoing cybersecurity campaign based on securing your devices, your data and yourself.

Topics: Events, President Davidson, President’s Cabinet

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