President Janine Davidson unveiled her vision for MSU Denver at a pair of events last week on Sept. 13 and 14.
Rebranding the annual president’s breakfast as a “Welcome Home” event for Davidson, the president announced the creation of five new councils. The role of those councils will be to advise the president’s cabinet on specific policy areas that Davidson has identified. The next day, Davidson followed through on her promise to focus on, “students, students, students,” by holding a town hall in the Student Success Building. The meeting provided Roadrunners with the opportunity to engage directly with the university’s new president and bring up issues they believe are pressing.
“I’m excited for sort of a new vision to come into the university and keep it moving forward,” said faculty member Philip Bernhardt. “I appreciate Dr. Jordan and everything he did, but it’s always exciting to be around when there’s big institutional change.”
“Educators know that students are going to be more successful in an educational environment if they feel like they belong,” Davidson said. “Becoming an HSI institution gets us to that critical mass where people feel like they do have a sense of belonging,”
She hopes that MSU Denver achieves HSI status this academic year.
In keeping with her belief that inclusivity and a sense of belonging lead to student success, Davidson announced that a new multicultural center is in the works.
The president’s vision for the school comes amidst a time of great change for Denver. The city has experienced tremendous economic growth since MSU Denver was founded 50 years ago. The state’s core industries have also changed as tech becomes a major player in Colorado’s economy. According to Davidson, this means that the school needs to respond accordingly and continue to change and innovate. She cited the new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences building as one example of how the school is pivoting to meet Colorado’s needs.
“I like the fact that she is reaching out to the community, getting information and based on that she’s going to be improving- making decisions on what’s best for the university,” said Saima Reese, an IT professional who works for the school. She was impressed with Davidson’s inclusive approach to leadership and appreciated that Davidson listened to the needs of the school instead of unilaterally imposing her own agenda.
Despite the tasks in front of her new administration, Davidson approaches her work with the aplomb of an air force pilot. She compared running a complex organization, like a university, to flying a plane or conducting an orchestra.
Davidson opened each event by reflecting on the path that brought her to MSU Denver.
At 17, Janine Davidson was informed by a Navy officer that girls were not allowed to fly fighter planes. Unimpressed by the answer, Davidson called out the policy as stupid.
Needless to say, her U.S. Navy ROTC interview did not end well that day.
However, Davidson’s dream to fly would not be denied. The Air Force accepted her into its ranks and eventually she became the first woman to fly C-130 cargo planes. Her path wound through C.U. Boulder, the Air Force and then as undersecretary of the Navy.
The winding path that brought her to MSU Denver exemplifies the current roadrunner motto: Run your own Road.
“We never know where our road is going to take us but it is true that we rarely get there without some people helping us along the way,” President Davidson said during her address to students, faculty and staff. “We never get there alone.”
Additional reporting by