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Trustees approve 29 faculty sabbaticals, create Center for Entrepreneurship

Gathering last week was first for four new trustees and included updates on strategic planning and state funding.

By Dan Vaccaro

February 12, 2020

Board of Trustees meeting in progress.Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Board of Trustees met Thursday and Friday. Here are the highlights from two half-days of committee meetings, presentations, robust discussion and big decisions.

New trustees bring fresh energy, big ideas

The University’s four new trustees were on hand for their first meeting. Albus Brooks, Mario M. Carrera, Kristin Hultquist and Mike Johnston each shared a little about their careers and connections to MSU Denver. Carrera and Hultquist were first-generation college students, much like so many Roadrunners. Brooks and Johnston are former public servants who worked with MSU Denver during their political careers and spoke highly about the University’s mission of advancing students’ lives.

During the meeting, the board got word that another trustee had been appointed by Gov. Jared Polis. Emily Garnett is an attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a leader in the Colorado community. Garnett will take the seat of outgoing Trustee Elaine Gantz Berman, who served on the board since 2015. Gantz Berman was presented with flowers, a plaque and framed photos of her time at MSU Denver.

Board Chair Barb Grogan saluted Gantz Berman for her dedication to the University. “I just want to tell you … what an honor it has been to work with you,” Grogan said, “and how important your work has been in our core mission of serving students.”

Latest update on state funding

Larry Sampler, vice president of Administration and Finance, provided an update on state funding. He said that under the current proposal of a flat 2.5% increase in state funding, MSU Denver would receive an additional $3.7 million. With core needs of $9.7 million, that leaves a $6 million gap in funding, assuming a flat enrollment rate and no tuition increase.  

MSU Denver has asked for a $9.7 million adjustment to its base funding so that the University does not need to put an unacceptable financial burden on students through tuition increases. MSU Denver also joined with higher-education presidents across Colorado to ask for a 5% general-fund increase, rather than the 2.5%, with the funding allocated strategically rather than as a flat rate.

The 5% increase combined with a 3% tuition increase (the state-proposed tuition cap) would help MSU Denver close the $6 million gap in its base budget. Sadly, even with that increase, the University would still be unable to provide additional investment in student-support services and financial aid.

MSU Denver also continues to push for a revision of the funding formula to better align with the state’s higher-education goals.

Centered on entrepreneurs

The board approved the creation of a Universitywide Center for Entrepreneurship. College of Business Dean Ann Murphy, Ph.D., said the goal of the center will be to encourage and support economic development and social mobility for students and the community.

“We’ve been working in this arena already without a formal structure,” she said. “So, this will help us bring all of that great work together.” 

A gift from the Kemper family will fund an endowed chair for the center. Its work will be organized around three pillars: education and training; community engagement and events; and business support.

The center will scale up some of the great entrepreneurship-focused work already happening at MSU Denver, such as the faculty entrepreneurship fellows program; supporting student participation in the Small Business Institute case competition, in which Roadrunners have placed in the top three nationally for the past two years; hosting the Executive on Campus event and other campus speaking events; and partnering with Denver-area Rotary Clubs to run Launch Denver, an 8-week program to help small-business owners develop a business plan. Stay tuned to the Early Bird for more details on this exciting new center.   

Next steps in strategic planning

Cathy Lucas, vice president for Strategy, and Matt Makley, professor of history, shared an update on the strategic-planning process with trustees.

Over the past few months, the Strategic Planning Team has worked diligently to synthesize feedback and ideas from more than 1,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community and business leaders. With that information, the SPT developed five pillars that will form the foundation of the new plan.

The five pillars are: 1) Student Access and Achievement; 2) Civic and Economic Catalyst; 3) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; 4) Agile and Sustainable; and 5) Student-centered Academic Excellence.

The next step in the process is the Goals Conference on Friday, where senior leaders, the SPT and implementors such as associate vice presidents, deans, associate deans and chairs will come together to develop two to three goals for each pillar. After that, a draft plan will be shared with internal and external stakeholders for feedback before a final presentation to the board in June in advance of the July 1 launch.

Celebrate sabbaticals

Bill Henry, Ph.D., vice provost for faculty affairs, recommended the approval of 29 requests for faculty sabbaticals for the 2020-21 academic year. Henry said the pool was the largest in school history and that approval would represent a nearly $500,000 investment in the faculty’s academic work.

Henry also commended outgoing Provost Vicki Golich, Ph.D., for her tireless advocacy on behalf of faculty sabbaticals. “Of all the many things she has done for MSU Denver, this is one of her most robust and important legacies,” he said. “I just want to take a moment to thank her for that.” 

The board unanimously approved all 29 recommendations, which included the following faculty members:   

  • Carla Agular, Ph.D., Music, fall 2020
  • Mohammed Akacem, Ph.D., Economics, spring 2021
  • Shelby Balik, Ph.D., History, spring 2021
  • Kenneth Bisio, Journalism and Media Production, AY 2020-21
  • Nicolas Cachanosky, Ph.D., Economics, fall 2020
  • Donald T. Chang, Ph.D., Marketing, fall 2020
  • Janos Fustos, Ph.D., Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics, spring 2021
  • Mingli He, Ph.D., Engineering and Engineering Technology, spring 2021
  • Michael Hengst, Ph.D., Music, spring 2021
  • Tina Herring, Ph.D., Special Education, Early Childhood, and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, fall 2020
  • Matthew Jenkins, Art, fall 2020
  • Morey Kitzman, Ph.D., Psychological Sciences, fall 2020
  • David Klein, Industrial Design, fall 2020
  • Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D., English, fall 2020
  • Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D., Chicana/o Studies, spring 2021
  • LiYing Li, Ph.D., Criminal Justice and Criminology, fall 2020
  • Jillian Mollenhauer, Ph.D., Art, fall 2020
  • Jessica Parker, Ph.D., English, spring 2021
  • Vincent Piturro, Ph.D., English, spring 2021
  • Jennifer Powell Bolton, Ph.D., Nutrition, spring 2021
  • Joseph Quatrochi, Ph.D., Human Performance and Sport, fall 2020
  • Gerald Shultz, Ph.D., Mathematical and Computer Sciences, fall 2020
  • Helle Sorensen, Hospitality, Events and Tourism, fall 2020
  • Jane Chapman Vigil, Ph.D., English, spring 2021
  • Nicole Vowles, Ph.D., Marketing, fall 2020
  • David Weiden, Ph.D., Political Science, fall 2020
  • Ann Williams, Ph.D., Modern Languages, spring 2021
  • Kip Wotkyns, Journalism and Media Production, spring 2021
  • Runing Zhang, Ph.D., Engineering and Engineering Technology, fall 2020

Board of Trustees business meetings are open to the public. You can also livestream audio of the entire meeting on the trustees’ website.  

Topics: Board of Trustees, Events, Funding, Policy

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