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MSU Denver closes South Campus

The move will save the University $300,000 in annual lease payments without impacting the Innovative and Lifelong Learning program or services to students.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 6, 2020

South Campus sign.Metropolitan State University of Denver has elected to close its South Campus, located in the Denver Tech Center, citing declining demand for courses and an interest in rethinking the branch-campus approach. The move will save the University $300,000 in annual lease payments, which does not include general operation expenses, without impacting services to students.

“Enrollments have been declining at South Campus for the last eight years to such a point that it was no longer feasible or smart to pay that lease,” said Terry Bower, associate vice president of Innovative and Lifelong Learning. “This closure gives us an opportunity reconsider the branch campus approach and how MSU Denver might be a partner and resource to our communities in the future.”

The South Campus lease was originally due to end in June 2021. However, the University’s status as a state organization allowed for early termination without financial penalty. The lease officially ended this month, although the campus has not been active since the University moved to remote operations in March.

Most of the classes offered on the South Campus were additional sections of courses already offered online or at the University’s Main Campus. Staff offices that were on the South Campus will eventually transition back to the Main Campus.

The Innovative and Lifelong Learning program remains intact.

“Operating the South Campus was just a piece of ILL,” Bower explained. “ILL is a virtual unit that is still engaged in a wide range of innovative programs for the University; we’re just no longer managing South Campus.”

The closure decision was highly inclusive, and conversations first began at a University goals meeting early in the spring semester. The proposal to close the campus was included among the ideas generated through the 2025 Strategic Plan process, which included significant input from community members, board members, faculty and staff. Bower also spoke individually about the closure proposal with deans, chairs, associate vice presidents and vice presidents, and received unanimous interest and support.

“At a time when student engagement and course demand are shifting, and budgets must be streamlined, closing the South Campus was the right move,” said Bill Henry, Ph.D., interim provost. “It was also the result of a very intentional and well-researched process, ensuring minimal impact to students as well as ILL staff, who will continue to work remotely.”

MSU Denver originally established the South Campus in 1982 through a partnership with the Cherry Creek School District and Arapahoe Community College. The goal was to provide higher education access for residents of the southeast metropolitan area. Enrollments exceeded projections, and by 1987 both colleges needed a facility that could accommodate more classrooms and computer laboratories.

The South Campus moved to its now-former 13-classroom space, which also included offices and support spaces, in the early 1990s. The South Campus thrived until recent years, when it and other university campuses in the DTC began to experience declining enrollment.

To learn more about ILL offerings, please visit the program’s webpage.

Topics: Academics

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