Notes of Impact | Spring/Summer 2021

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YOUR LIFELONG LEARNING PARTNER The latest news from the University of Denver’s University College.

See how a DU alumna is championing the arts pg. 10 Celebrating new graduates and their plans for the future pg. 16







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To Our Community, As we begin to emerge from the ravages of the global pandemic and continue the re-energized push for social justice and racial equity, I’ve been reflecting on the challenges our society face and how our community members are seeking solutions to these problems both locally and globally. At University College, our academic programs spread across the spectrum, from IT to creative writing. What all of our programs have in common, however, is that they each give students an opportunity to engage in innovative ways of thinking about problems that need solving. Whether it’s the arts and culture sector attempting to bounce back from an incredibly challenging year of lost revenue and missed connections to creative outlets, or the way healthcare workers will never be or think the same way after serving on the front lines of a pandemic, the opportunities to shift and respond through innovation abound. As we consider the varied changes we’ve all experienced in recent months, and anticipate the adjustments we'll need to make in the months to come, I hope you’ll commit to making a positive impact on those around you and assist those who have not had the ability to access the resources and structures that lead to prosperity in our society. For our 2021 graduates, I am humbled by your resilience and perseverance during a year unlike any other we’ve collectively experienced. You, along with your fellow alumni, will help bridge the gaps that exist within your community and industry. I look forward to seeing what you accomplish. Best, Michael McGuire Dean, University College



New Buildings Now Open on Campus With 360-degree views of campus and a sweeping outlook on the Front Range, the new Community Commons at the University of Denver offers a central dining hall, green roof, faculty lounge, and multiple spaces for studying or relaxing within the 132,000-square-foot building. Additionally, the Burwell Center for Career Achievement had its grand opening celebration during Alumni Weekend this May. Within the new building, students and alumni can access career counseling and resources. 4

COVID-19 Update The University of Denver will require all students, staff, and faculty living, learning or working on campus to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall 2021 term. DU continues to host vaccination events on campus, prioritizing the student population, and as of April, nearly 80% of campus faculty and staff already voluntarily reported they were at least partially vaccinated.

University of Denver Named a Best Value College The University of Denver is one of the nation’s top 200 Best Value Colleges for 2021, according to the Princeton Review, which evaluated more than 650 colleges and universities for best return on investment. The ratings are based on more than 40 data points, including academic offerings, affordability, and career preparation.

University College Offers New Completion Scholarship

University College now offers the Completion Scholarship for Bachelor of Arts Completion Program students. We recognize the importance of making a University of Denver degree affordable, and by broadening eligibility requirements and increasing the amount of scholarship funding, we’re hoping to provide more access to high-quality education for those looking to finish their undergraduate degree.

New Transportation Institute Website and Webinar Series

The Transportation Institute at the University of Denver (DTI) develops the next generation of transportation and supply chain leaders — and now, DTI has a new website and webinar series to showcase their expertise! Tune in to Transportation Talks at to hear from a range of leaders in the field discussing timely transportation topics.

Tuition Relief Grant Assists More Than 120 Students

COVID-19 has created many challenges in higher education and for those pursuing their education, as well. With that in mind, University College aimed to lessen the negative impact of the pandemic by offering tuition relief grants to those experiencing loss of employment due to the pandemic. “Our main concern was that the effects of the pandemic would temporarily or permanently halt our students’ learning progress and that this would likely exacerbate the equity gaps that exist in our communities, which we strive to help eliminate,” said Dean McGuire. To date, more than 120 students have been provided tuition relief grant funding.

Virtual Graduation Celebration

To celebrate the class of 2021, University College launched a virtual graduation celebration on June 8 to honor our graduates. Thank you to student speaker Cassie Ivey (Arts and Culture Management) for sharing inspiring words with her fellow graduates! Watch the virtual celebration online at

Unique University of Denver Certificate Supports Immigrant Entrepreneurship To help address the complex, urgent, and persistent challenges of our local and global communities, the University of Denver created its Grand Challenges initiatives, programs that bring together university and community change-makers to address the most difficult and far-reaching issues facing our society today. Thanks to a long-standing commitment to the public good, University College was given the opportunity to support the Grand Challenges mission with Global Community Engagement Academic Director Arianna Nowakowski appointed to serve as co-lead for the Migration cohort. In that role, Arianna’s work with the cohort and community partners helped realize a ground-breaking program several years in the making. Thanks to a strong partnership with the World Trade Center (WTC) Denver, University College through the Center for Professional Development is now helping immigrants not only survive but thrive in the business world with a business development non-credit certificate. Drawing on the talents of experts in operations, sales, marketing, finance, strategy, and law, the courses were designed to lead students through building their own business from the ground up. “This collaborative public good initiative has been phenomenal,” says Arianna. “It shows what kind of change is possible when university and community partners come together around an issue of common concern.”

The first cohort consisted of 10 students representing locations across the globe, including South America, Mexico, the Middle East, and Africa. Kaye Nash, a student in the business development course, is working on getting Purple Point Neurodiagnostics off the ground. The company will provide affordable neurological testing for people suffering from epilepsy and other neurological disorders in Cameroon. “The courses played an integral role in teaching us how to strategically run our business globally,” Kaye said. “The fourstep process started with developing a detailed business plan to help us structure our business with the necessary steps to operate globally.” Kaye and her partners are working with the WTC for business guidance and were able to bridge that information with the knowledge provided by the courses. For the University of Denver, these courses serve as an outstanding example of its efforts to support its community in a meaningful way, creating relationships that will last long after the business development classes are complete. “I consider this truly answering the calls of humanity when you have professors of this caliber who will take a student under their wings and help them build their business,” said Kaye. “These professors showed us that they see our vision, care about us as a person, and they believe in our business. That alone speaks volumes and is just priceless. As a woman of color, this whole experience has impacted and changed my life in more ways than I can imagine.”

STIMULATE YOUR MIND AND REAWAKEN YOUR CURIOSITY WITH THE ENRICHMENT PROGRAM Put your thinking cap on and engage in lifelong learning through University of Denver's Enrichment Program! We’re here to challenge conventional thought, broaden horizons, and connect you to topics that make you stop and think, imagine and create, and sometimes even tap your toe. Join our experts from DU and the community online this fall!


FREE BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAMPLER LIVE VIA ZOOM AUGUST 23-26 Select a night (or multiple nights) and enjoy one-hour courses taught by hand-picked experts. From sustainable cities to jazz singers, Colorado energy to the fight against dementia, join for a free lecture!



Experienced Team of Healthcare Faculty to

Guide Health Graduate Programs into the Future As the health industry continues to quickly evolve, University College is pleased to be at the forefront of meeting both students’ and employers’ needs through innovative graduate healthcare programming. Bobbie Kite recently took on the role of director of healthcare programming, helping to shape new opportunities, continue to ensure programs remain relevant in a rapidly changing industry, and build a pipeline for the industry to find innovative graduates to lead its future. “Our blend of industry partnerships, research, and practical application remains our core competitive advantage in the market, and our exponential learning opportunities continue to make us a strong choice for students,” said Bobbie. “I hope to continue pulling together health across the University of Denver and our community, while looking for more opportunities to connect our students with industry.” As the new academic director for the Healthcare Management program, Rachel Rogers brings expertise, experience, and efforts in the healthcare industry that have been integral in advancing the Healthcare Management program, as well as creating the timely Health Informatics program in coordination with Bobbie Kite. “We want to ensure curriculum remains on the leading edge of digital and virtual learning,” said Rachel. “The healthcare programs will be able to extend their reach locally and nationally through partnerships with healthcare and health industry organizations, collaborations

with other University of Denver departments, and an impressive cadre of faculty bringing their expertise directly from their work into our classrooms.” In early 2021, University College welcomed Jeff Weide as the new academic director for the recently launched Health Informatics graduate program. His healthcare experiences include operational management of the State of Colorado’s COVID rapid response testing program, directing the performance improvement efforts of a 20-clinic community health system, and Lean Systems Improvement facilitation at a large, safety-net integrated health system in Denver. “The innovation within healthcare is advancing at a rapid pace, and my goal is to develop a program that keeps pace with innovation while also providing students with the critical thinking skills that employers want within health informatics, digital health, and health data science,” said Jeff. This experienced and dynamic team of healthcare professionals is poised to ensure University College healthcare programs lead the way in educating and preparing our students to work in a variety of roles across the health industry, bridging strategy and data. “These programs were designed with significant synergies,” said University College Dean Michael McGuire. “These synergies are very important to preparing our students to help deliver improved healthcare outcomes and address disparities that exist among our communities.”


INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS OFFERING INTERNSHIPS, CURRICULUM GUIDANCE, AND INSTRUCTOR EXPERTISE Banner Health Colorado Chapter of HIMSS Denver Medical Study Group HCA Health Catalyst State of Colorado Stride Prime Health Vizient


REAL, DE-IDENTIFIED HEALTH DATA FROM HOSPITAL SYSTEMS AND CLAIMS DATABASES Anonymous hospital data was obtained from HCA Healthcare, a network of more than 180 hospitals across the U.S. and UK, plus a large data set from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC). These data were used to create a health data repository, allowing students to engage in hands-on informatics projects.


ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING INDUSTRIES, HEALTHCARE IS HOME TO GROWING OPPORTUNITIES Administrative Director Chief Medical Information Officer Chief Strategic Officer Clinical Analyst Clinical Data Management Director Digital Health Plan Manager Director of Digital Health Innovation Health Data Scientist Healthcare Project Manager Healthcare Software Developer Informatics Specialist 9



the Arts

BY EMBRACING CHALLENGE AND CONFIDENCE A self-described “yes person,” executive director of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) Samantha Johnston thrives on challenge — especially when it comes to proving herself, which, she admits, has been the biggest challenge of her career. “Whether it was starting out as an educator right out of undergrad, or changing careers and becoming executive director, I’ve learned over the years that I’m good at bringing about change and growing programs,” says Johnston, who has led CPAC since 2015. CPAC has not only grown with Johnston at the helm, it has also become recognized for its nationally renowned photographers and programs. “Art is a release,” Johnston says, “a way to see the world, a way to process and understand. I work with my staff to make CPAC a place that is open and welcoming to have conversations, learn, and share.” After 12 years as a teacher, Johnston was feeling burnt out, so like any good educator, she began to research. Her discovery led her to University College where, in 2014, she enrolled in the Arts Development & Program Management certificate program, achieving completion the next year. She directly credits her work in the program for landing the job at CPAC. 10

“It’s not a coincidence,” she says. “I did a lot of case study work about CPAC … the real-time research opportunity gave me a stronger understanding about grants, funding, and tax documents, and broadened my understanding of the nonprofit work in general. The program at DU gave me confidence to move into a new career,” she says. An accomplished and highly exhibited photographer, Johnston’s arts practice is not as active as it once was. Although she continues making pictures, primarily focusing on light in her home and garden, she says her focus has shifted. “I know my personality, and I give my all to making art and my role as executive director,” which includes spending a significant amount of time reviewing talented artists’ work and curating shows “a different form of creativity that is valuable to me.” In the meantime, new challenges are right around the corner, such as CPAC’s major fundraiser, which is traditionally a sit-down dinner event, and planning for the rest of the year. “We’re still kind of balancing what it will all look like,” Johnston says. If history is any indication, expectations are sure to be exceeded.

To learn more about CPAC, visit




CHANGING THE WORLD THROUGH EDUCATION & CONVERSATION In his second book, Beyond the Credentials.!?, published in 2020, author Evans Kwesi Mensah draws on years of experience as he offers practical lessons and personal wisdom to help readers discover how to live a life defined by strong values and character despite the demands of educational and professional achievement. With more than 20 years of executive experience in business strategy development and consulting, and a list of credentials that includes an MBA from Howard University, a 2019 McKinsey Fellowship, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification, Evans’ own list of achievements are impressive, including pursuing a Nonprofit Leadership graduate certificate at University College. Yet, the self-described “accidental writer” will be the first to tell you that degrees and certificates tell only part of his story. “The credentials give you the opportunity to open doors,” Mensah says. “But your knowledge is what’s going to sustain you.” After earning his degrees, Evans’ professional life took off, first with Tyco Corporate then to Tyco Fire Protection where he ultimately became Global Product Manager of the company’s Grinnell Mechanical product line. In 2011, Evans returned to his beloved Ghana to lead logistics and administration at a nonprofit organization. While

in his home country, he had a revelation of sorts. He had been working on a book, but it was turning into a “painful experience.” “It wasn’t a book,” he admits. “It was a complaint diary, and I was just listing my frustrations.” As an African American with a Ghanian accent working in a corporation that was 99% Caucasian at the time, Mensah had experienced discrimination on the job. “I had people who loved me, supported me, but I had other people … who became a thorn in my flesh,” he recalls. “Because you don’t look like them, you don’t sound like them … you’re prejudged. I had a steep hill to always prove myself.” Evans came to realize that he could continue his professional work in supply chain management and organizational development—what he calls the “butter on his bread” job—and at the same time pursue his passions. “I like to inspire, I like coaching, I like training, I like giving back knowledge, just changing the mindset of people,” Evans says, “Most of the challenges we’re going through in the world right now have to do with a mindset, so in my company ValueCycle, I make sure that it’s not just a training company, it’s a mindset change company that educates people.”


With his own new mindset and encouragement from his wife, Baake, who he affectionately refers to as “Boss,” Evans returned to the book he began years earlier. “I changed it all,” he says, explaining that this time he wrote with the intention of motivating readers through stories of positivity, inspiration, and encouragement. “I wanted to let people know that if I can do it, you can do it and do it better … I learn from you, you learn from me, and in a diverse world we can be better people in society.” Finally, after eight years, the book, Synergy and Commonality: The Key to Success, was published in 2019. (Both Synergy and Credentials became Amazon bestsellers.)

Recently, Evans fulfilled another ambition—co-founding with his wife their own nonprofit organization, Diversifying Our Communities (DOC), which “supports and uplifts the marginalized, disenfranchised communities and individuals, especially of color.” “The whole idea,” Evans says, “is to educate the left side to understand the right side [and vice versa], so people can learn to treat others with dignity and respect.” The new acquisition prompted Evans to enroll in the Nonprofit Leadership graduate certificate program at University College. “I thought I’d better go grab some knowledge,” Evans says. “I’m humbled by the things that I’m learning.”

Amazon Best-Selling Books by Evans Kwesi Mensah

“I learn from you, you learn from me, and in a diverse world we can be better people in society.” 13


SUPPLY CHAIN TRENDS AND CAREERS AFTER COVID-19 Professor of the Practice and Academic Director Jack Buffington The pandemic caused unprecedented shortages in a variety of goods, with limits imposed on many for months into COVID-19. What happened? Issues in the supply chain. “COVID-19 was simply a trigger as opposed to a cause,” said Jack Buffington, professor of the practice and director of the Supply Chain Management program at the University of Denver. “There’s some underlying weaknesses that exist beyond the numbers. Some trigger was going to set it off.” Pre-pandemic supply chain systems were built on scale and cost. They operate very efficiently when all is running smoothly; however, the worst thing that can happen to them is variation like COVID-19. Disruption in both supply and demand across the world, exacerbated by the long-tail nature of the system, caused unprecedented variation in the global supply chain. According to a study from the Capgemini Research Institute, 80% of organizations said their supply chains were negatively impacted by the pandemic, and 66% stated their strategy would have to change significantly to adapt.

Going forward, it’s imperative that the supply chain be built for resiliency and scalability rather than capacity. This means that supply chain professionals will be in high demand to help systems meet the new normal. “To solve this problem, we need to restore principles,” Buffington said. “We used to have these principles that focused on structured problem solving, engineering, math, etc., and they aren’t as foundational as they use to be. That’s something we need to change.” These skills, as well as critical thinking and relationship-building, are all the foundations of the Supply Chain Management graduate program in which students learn to become structured problem-solvers using the Six Sigma DMAIC process and work one-on-one with expert faculty. Additionally, students work directly with Jack on a personalized career development plan and the results have been extraordinary, with students being hired into the industry at an exceptionally high success rate. And luckily for them, graduates will have the skills needed to build resilient and scalable supply chains, thanks to Jack.

Learn more about the Supply Chain Management program at

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE PODCAST CONNECTING INDUSTRY & HIGHER EDUCATION Latest Episodes How to Leverage Your Courses for Professional Wins Reach Your Goals While Managing Your Busy Life When a Certificate Makes Sense


New Grad Plans to Use Degree to Share Stories From the Past After serving in the Army and teaching at West Point for 28 years, Brian DeToy adds another master’s degree to his portfolio.

As a boy, Brian DeToy had no doubt what he wanted to pursue when he was older. Growing up in an Army family fueled his passion to learn about history. “History, especially military history is so prevalent in so many books. My dad would take us as we moved around, and we would visit battlefields and other historic sites.” Brian always knew he wanted to serve in the armed forces at some point, so he went to Notre Dame on an ROTC scholarship and joined the infantry. When the time came for Brian to lead his own troops, something changed for him. “I got to my unit, and I fell in love with my soldiers. I never wanted to get out. And so I did [stay]. I stayed until the last day I possibly could — 28 years and three weeks.” He served around the world, earned a master’s degree and PhD in history, and taught at West Point for more than a decade. After retiring, Brian combined his years of Army experience with his education and love for history and led student groups to different battlefields around the world. That experience inspired Brian and his wife to launch a history-focused travel company, Essential History Expeditions, that typically introduces customers to locations across the globe.

Brian’s love for acquiring and sharing knowledge also motivated him to head back to the classroom. With its emphasis on flexibility, the MA in Professional Creative Writing at University College caught his eye. “Fiction is a way to take history and make it more accessible,” Brian says. He began the program in 2017, taking classes every winter when he wasn’t on a work trip. When COVID shut down most travel, he was able to channel all his energy into the program. “I’ve learned a lot,” Brian says. “All of my teachers were great. They were caring, committed and top-notch scholars themselves. They really looked out for us to make sure we would succeed.” After graduation, Brian says, it will be time to apply his new skills and buckle down to write. He has a novel in the works and other stories in mind. “Stories, especially efficient ones with characters that are living and breathing and believable, can illuminate aspects of American history that would otherwise be hidden,” Brian says about his mission moving forward. “You can shine a light on them, bring them to people and make them accessible. They can make a change. If I can get some people to think or care, then I’ve accomplished what I wanted.” Story by Nicole Militello.



CAREER SERVICES The University of Denver is here to support you on your career journey. Whether seeking tips for interview prep or asking career advice, you can count on the office of Career and Professional Development. Schedule a One-on-One Career Advising Appointment!

QUICK QUESTIONS COACHING Ask a career expert a quick question(s). Sessions may last up to 15 minutes and no appointment is necessary (first come, first served). Call 303-871-4331 During Office Hours Mondays: 9–10 a.m. MT Tuesdays: 4–5 p.m. MT Wednesdays: 9–10 a.m. MT 18 Fridays: 9-10 a.m. MT 6

ONLINE SUMMER EVENTS C.U.E. the Mic - Women in STEM June 22 from 12 to 1 p.m. MT HireColorado Virtual Alumni and Graduate Student Career Fair June 23-24 Food Apartheid: Root Causes and the Impact of COVID-19 June 23 from 12 to 1 p.m. MT Finding Jobs and Internships: Career Refresh Series June 29 from 12 to 1 p.m. MT 5 Way to Tell if Consulting is for You - and 5 Indicators that it's Not! July 22 from 12 to 1 p.m. MT How to Test if Starting a Consulting Business is Right for Your August 18 from 12 to 1 p.m. MT


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