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Inside the President’s Cabinet

Members discuss COVID-19 safety protocols, updates from the Advisory Council on Culture and Workplace, and more.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 19, 2020

Screenshot of President's Cabinet Teams meeting.The Wednesday meeting of the President’s Cabinet kicked off with an update on the search for a new Metropolitan State University of Denver provost. President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., encouraged the campus community to attend upcoming virtual candidate visits and provide feedback. She added that the dynamic national recruitment process has helped put MSU Denver on the higher education map and has netted several excellent candidates.

Stay tuned to the Early Bird for more details on virtual visits.

COVID-19 response

On the heels of Gov. Jared Polis’ revised COVID-19 public health protocols, Davidson acknowledged that our community is entering a challenging phase of the pandemic.

The University still plans to build on health and safety best practices and lessons learned throughout the fall semester to increase in-person learning on campus for spring, and MSU Denver’s in-person classes are still within Polis’ new guidelines. Davidson again pressed each member of the University community to wear a mask, practice social distancing and use good judgment, adding that they should avoid parties and gatherings as well.

Davidson also encouraged all Roadrunners to prioritize self-care for their mental health and to check in regularly with friends, family and colleagues. See the Rundown and today’s Early Bird article for more information.

Larry Sampler, chief operating officer, provided an overview of Denver County’s positive COVID-19 rate, which currently stands at 12.7%, well above the CDC’s recommended 5%. See Sampler’s Wednesday Early Bird article for more details on the campus’ response.

President’s Team Award

Davidson also honored the RISE Team, a collaborative and inclusive group of thought leaders who came together to design the recently funded Pathways to Possible program. The innovative concurrent enrollment and peer partnership program targets students of color, rural students and low-income students through intrusive advising, financial assistance and more. Read more in Wednesday’s Early Bird.

The program will be led by Nahum Kisner and a program development and implementation team that includes:

  • Timothy Hawkins, proposal development specialist, Grants and Sponsored Programs
  • Betsy Jinks, director, Office of Sponsored Research and Programs
  • Manual Del Real, Ph.D., executive director, HSI Initiatives and Inclusion
  • Hope Szypulski, Ph.D., interim associate dean, College of Health and Applied Sciences
  • Megan Conklin, executive director, Corporate and Foundation Relations
  • J. Alejano-Steele, Ph.D., associate dean, College of Health and Applied Sciences
  • Jessica Buckmaster, concurrent enrollment manager, Innovative and Lifelong Learning
  • Matt Griswold, Ed.D., associate vice president, Online Learning
  • Gabriel Christie, instructional accessibility manager, Center for Teaching, Learning and Design
  • Luis Sandoval, associate director, Excel
  • Terry Bower, Ph.D., associate vice president, Innovative and Lifelong Learning
  • Elizabeth Parmelee, Ph.D., associate vice president, Undergraduate Studies
  • Alaura Ward, student trustee
  • Erica Quintana-Garcia, director, Student Care Center
  • Cynthia Baron, Ph.D., director, Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion
  • Juan Gallegos, assistant director, Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion
  • Ally Garcia, Ph.D., director TRIO Student Support Services
  • Angelica Moreno, assessment and evaluation manager, Student Affairs

Council on Culture and Workplace presentation

John Kietzmann, co-chair of the President’s Council on Culture and Workplace, also amplified mental health and wellness initiatives and resources from the Health Center at Auraria, the Counseling Center, Staff Senate and Human Resources. He noted that the University Policy Advisory Committee is exploring an Alternative Work Arrangements Policy. More information to come.

Kietzmann also highlighted several efforts related to diversity, equity and inclusion as well the upcoming campus climate survey and a leadership and engagement survey. The group also continues to plug in to professional development, employee recognition, onboarding and community-building efforts and align with Strategic Plan 2026 goals.

Other updates

  • The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is developing an equity statement, goals and objectives to support Strategic Plan 2026 goals.
  • Tune in to virtual Commencement ceremonies on Dec. 11. The spring Commencement will kick off with a preshow at 10:30 a.m., and the fall festivities begin at 1:30 p.m. Both ceremonies will feature an address by Roger Ferguson, president, TIAA CREF. This year’s celebration is particularly important as MSU Denver prepares to honor its 100,000th graduate with fanfare and fun surprises.
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to share messages and best wishes with graduates by recording a quick video.
  • The Strategic Planning Team has developed several strategies to support the overall pillars for the plan. Co-chairs Cathy Lucas and Matt Makley, Ph.D., are now doing a final review with President Davidson and meeting individually with trustees prior to a final presentation at the board’s Dec. 3 meeting. Once the Strategic Plan is approved, the team will spend the spring semester fine-tuning the strategies and developing metrics.
  • The Advancement team has raised $1.7 million this fiscal year with $1.9 million in gifts in the pipeline. Several more significant gifts could be announced in the coming months.
  • The University’s endowment has increased from $16.6 million to $18 million and assets under management total $31.6 million.
  • Advancement is also engaged in a feasibility study in advance of embarking on the University’s first-ever comprehensive giving campaign that will support the goals of Strategic Plan 2026.
  • Benefits Open Enrollment ends tomorrow at 5 p.m.
  • Human Resources is developing a policy to address the newly passed State Bill 205, which will provide sick leave for temporary staff and affiliates. More information will be available in the Early Bird soon.
  • Spring 2021 enrollment is down 24% from spring 2020 enrollment but is trending positively, and 277 students have registered for today’s virtual enrollment event.
  • MSU Denver is now on the Common Application system, and applications are up 1%.

Holiday favorites

In honor of the season, President Davidson invited cabinet members to share holiday traditions, favorite foods and their families’ most unusual seasonal recipes. The conversation inspired a stirring debate on canned cranberry sauce and 1960s-era Jell-O molds. Members also shared stories of freshly baked pies, gumbo, truffle mashed potatoes, corn bread, puerco pibil and preferred turkey recipes. If you have a favorite holiday recipe or tradition, be sure to share in the comments.

Topics: Events, Inclusive leadership, President Davidson, President’s Cabinet

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