Student focus behind administrative title change

New title changes for existing administrative staff at MSU Denver point to President Janine Davidson’s actions to expand the school’s bureaucracy. The changes were announced at a cabinet meeting on Oct. 17.

“President Jordan really wanted to keep his organizational structure lean. We had three vice presidents, a few associates to the president. But he kept it lean in not really having a lot of direct reports,” said Cathy Lucas, chief of staff and vice-president of strategy. “Dr. Davidson has looked at other structures and I think she’s moving more into the university model, where there’s a few more vice presidents.”

The changes fall into line with Davidson’s vision to focus on, “students, students, students first.” Since the school became a university five years ago, its growth has outpaced the administrative structure currently in place. Davidson outlined her plans to change the small college mentality, into one more appropriate for the big university that MSU Denver now is. The organizational structure must match the new reality, Lucas said.

The title changes allow existing resources to be used for the president’s pivot. Cathy Lucas, formerly titled as the associate to the president for marketing and communications, is now chief of staff and vice president for strategy. Vicki Golich, provost, is now also the executive vice president for academic and student affairs. Her title change reflects her position as the No. 2 for the entire school, below Davidson. Sandra Haynes, deputy provost, is now the vice president for academic affairs.

Out of the three title changes, only one is considered a promotion. Lucas’ new spot came with a salary increase to compensate for the added duties and responsibilities that Lucas had already taken on under her previous title. The increase reflects the level of compensation university vice presidents make at other schools across the country.

The title changes came about as part of discussions on how to support the student life cycle here at MSU Denver.

“We want to do a better job of providing support for transfer students. Transfer students come to us in all kinds of flavors. They come with two credits, or two classes. They come with associate degrees, they come to us with a four year degree,” Golich said. “They come to us after swirling, or coming back ten years out of academia. How can we support all those transfer students with their different needs as well?”

Doing more for all students beyond those who come straight out of high school is a top priority for the school and the title changes reflect that priority, Golich said.

“It’s a good step in the right direction to make the university larger,” said Joshua Gardner, Student Government Assembly president. “Roles more clearly defined set us up for future success.”

Among the administration’s next steps is to launch a program called Roadrunner Roadways. The new program is part of the administration’s effort to amp up support of career services. The services will aid the university’s ultimate goal, which is to let students find success beyond graduation.

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