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Inside the President's Cabinet

Members discussed a COVID-19 vaccine rollout, hiring updates, infrastructure improvements and more.

By Lindsey Coulter

December 17, 2020

Janine DavidsonThe final President’s Cabinet meeting of the year on Dec. 16 began with a reflection on all that Metropolitan State University of Denver accomplished in 2020. Despite COVID-19, a historic wildfire season, political polarization and civil unrest, MSU Denver came together and maintained a focus on students, mission and one another. President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., also touted successes in online learning, progress on the academic reorganization, a successful first-ever online Commencement, the establishment of the Hart Center for Public Service, MSU Denver’s RISE grant and more.

COVID-19 vaccine update

The Auraria Campus leadership team has agreed to serve as a point of distribution in Colorado’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Davidson acknowledged that there are still a number of unknowns related to the University’s role in the distribution plan but said the tri-institutional community is looking to city and state leaders and health experts for guidance and clarity. This also will include establishing a highly inclusive tri-institutional working group in the spring semester to develop recommendations. Members will likely work with legal and medical experts as well as bioethicists to determine the best and most equitable path forward.

“This is a classic example of needing to get all of us on one side and the virus on the other,” Davidson said.

More information and opportunities for input will be available early in the spring semester. This work also will roll into improvements to Roadrunners Safe Return Committee’s work on communications, outreach and engagement.

Hiring updates

After a successful series of virtual candidate visits, the University has identified and interviewed the final two candidates for provost. Davidson thanked members of the provost search committee and all who provided feedback and insights through the process. The final candidate will likely be announced before winter break.

Dean searches for the College of Health and Applied Sciences and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences have been sequenced so that the incoming provost will be involved in the final decisions. Stay tuned for more info in the new year.

Additionally, Davidson noted that the coming year will include working on faculty-workload issues with the new provost and incoming deans.

President’s Team Awards

Davidson recognized the Commencement Committee for reimagining the graduation event and delivering a fantastic and meaningful virtual ceremony for almost 4,000 undergraduates and graduate students.

“So many people reached out to me to say how cool the event was but also how moving it was,” Davidson said. “You all nailed it.”

Commencement Committee members include:

  • Cora Potter, chair, manager of University Events and Protocol 
  • Kylie Henson, special-events coordinator
  • Karen Becker, advising representative, College of Professional Studies
  • Mallory Brunel, Ph.D., faculty representative, College of Professional Studies
  • Bill Carnes, Ph.D., faculty representative, College of Professional Studies
  • Michael Jacobs, faculty representative, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Brandi Rideout, alumni representative 
  • Raenea Gomez, Registrar’s Office
  • EJ Kang, faculty representative, School of Hospitality 
  • Brandon Matthews, faculty representative, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Connie Sanders, interim registrar
  • Roland Schendel, faculty representative, School of Education
  • Shaun Schafer, Ph.D., faculty representative, College of Professional Studies
  • Salina Siddique, faculty representative, College of Business
  • Karen Wenzel, faculty representative, College of Professional Studies
  • Rose Williams, School of Education
  • Lorri Wray, budget manager Office of the President
  • Ed Zarate, Registrar’s Office
  • Nicole Thomas, alumni-relations coordinator
  • Jamana Jamison, assistant to the associate vice president and office manager, C2 Hub
  • Katie Joyce, special-projects manager and assistant to the AVP/dean of students

The next President’s Team Award went to the Strategic Planning Team, which dedicated 750 hours of work across 52 meetings and nearly two years, including an unexpected pivot as the University navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, to develop the ambitious plan.

Members include:

  • Cathy Lucas, vice president of Strategy and External Affairs
  • Matt Makley, Ph.D., professor and chair, History
  • Adrienne Martinez, associate vice president of Classroom-to-Career Initiatives
  • Connie Sanders, interim registrar
  • Kat Martinez, Ph.D., director and chair, Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy
  • Dan Lair, Ph.D., chair, Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Scott Kerkmans, director, Beer Industry Program
  • Tony Nunez, Ph.D., assistant professor, Human Performance and Sport
  • Su-Jane Chen, Ph.D., professor, Finance
  • Susan Barnd, Ed.D., professor, School of Education
  • Cecily Cullen, director and curator, Center for Visual Art
  • Sarah Harman, executive director, Strategic Initiatives
  • Christian Hardigree, J.D., dean, School of Hospitality
  • Matt Griswold, Ed.D., associate vice president, Online Learning
  • Cindy Parsons, Foundation Board member
  • Amy Kern, associate professor, Industrial Design
  • Damian Thorman, Community Cabinet member
  • Lee Crawford, desktop-support liaison-team lead, Information Technology Services
  • Sofiya Lushchyk, student representative
  • Jamie Hurst, assistant vice president of Strategic Engagement, University Advancement
  • Evan Bowles, business analyst, ITS
  • Karena Beckham, student associate, Learning and Development
  • Liz Hinde, Ph.D., dean, School of Education
  • George Middlemist, Ph.D., associate vice president for Administration/CFO
  • Kim Starr, strategic-planning and financial-analysis manager
  • Amy Bechtum, associate director, Office of Career Services
  • Michael Benitez, Ph.D., vice president, Diversity and Inclusion
  • John Kietzmann, associate director of Athletics Marketing and Promotions/External Relations
  • David Fine, J.D., general council
  • Terry Bower, Ph.D., associate vice president of Innovative and Lifelong Learning
  • Dan Baer, Ph.D., Community Cabinet member
  • Johanna Snow, executive assistant to the vice president of Strategy and External Affairs
  • Dan Vaccaro, associate vice president of Strategic Communications

Built Environment and Infrastructure presentation

The President’s Advisory Council on Built Environment and Infrastructure shared redesign concepts for the West Classroom restrooms. The redesign would make the spaces more inclusive and welcoming of all abilities, cultures and gender identities while also supporting wellness and offering modern, sanitary, green and functional spaces.

The group also shared proposals for tented outdoor spaces and flexible outdoor classrooms facilitated by secure, locking storage containing seating, audiovisual capabilities and more.

Proposed improvements align with larger conversations about the Auraria Campus Strategic Plan and a potential redesign of the Tivoli Student Union. Stay tuned to the Early Bird for more updates on all proposed improvements.

Strategic Plan 2030

Lucas and Makley presented on the newly board-approved Strategic Plan, which will guide University decision-making through 2030 based on the vision statement: “We are a nationally recognized leader for social mobility, where students of all ages and backgrounds build a better, more equitable Colorado through innovative and transformative education.”

The plan will go live in January, and committee members will develop the operational plan through April. In June, the operational plan will be presented to trustees.

Other updates

  • Check your mailbox for the latest edition of RED Magazine.
  • University Advancement has raised $2.3 million in the current fiscal year, with an additional $2 million in the pipeline, putting the team on track to reach its $5 million goal.
  • The MSU Denver Alumni Association is launching a mentoring program in January with 10 mentors and 18 high school participants.
  • The Staff Senate is accepting responses for its Workload and Wellness Survey.
  • Enrollment as of Tuesday is down 17.24% from spring 2019, and head count is down 16.33%. Several strategies are in play to continue driving enrollment.
  • Stay tuned for Housing Task force recommendations in early 2021.
  • Look for more information on the upcoming Universitywide Engagement and Leader Survey.
  • Additional loaner laptops and tablets will soon be available for students. Contact ITS for more information.

Leader gratitude

Cabinet members also took a moment to express gratitude for the MSU Denver community – specifically, the dedication and hard work of students; the persistence of their respective teams; the spirit of collaboration and teamwork; a shared commitment to the University mission; transparent, communicative and compassionate leadership; supportive colleagues; the upcoming holiday; and surprise doorstep donuts.

Topics: Events, Inclusive leadership, President’s Cabinet

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