Metropolitan Denver Magazine - Winter 2017

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Some Roadrunners hang their degree on the wall. But alumnus John Tate wanted to express his pride with something a bit more … permanent. He graduated in summer 2017 with a degree in project coordination and says the tattoo is a reminder of “six years of hard work.”





ROADRUNNERS RALLY AROUND DACA STUDENTS With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program facing an uncertain future, the MSU Denver community is providing emotional, financial and legal support for undocumented students. Read the story on Page 4.


10 14 16 F E AT U R E


The motives and means behind MSU Denver’s pledge to achieve Hispanic-Serving status.



A look at where Roadrunners live and how they’re using their degrees to make an impact.





Board Chair Michelle Lucero discusses the University’s future under new leadership. Alumni share words of advice for President Davidson.


MSU Denver continues to have an impact on and off campus.

ON THE COVER Janine Davidson, Ph.D., dreamed of being a pilot from the time she was a little girl. These days, she’s taken to piloting a different kind of plane as the ninth president of MSU Denver. Photo by Mark Woolcott. Jet trails photo:


Alumna Tameka Brigham is a leader for educational equity in Denver Public Schools. THE BAHL Men’s basketball coach dishes on his path to MSU Denver and the Roadrunners’ path forward.


YOUR TOYS Alumna Sharon Park has the coolest job in the world – making people smile.


President Janine Davidson is ready to pilot MSU Denver to new heights.


Periodontist alum puts money where his mouth is with scholarship for working students.


We remember those who are no longer with us.


Alumni share news and notes.


History professor Stephen Leonard discusses Denver and five decades of teaching.




FIRSTWORD New heights As most of you already know, MSU Denver has a new president – Janine Davidson, Ph.D. I am incredibly excited to introduce you to her in more depth in this issue of Metropolitan Denver Magazine. When the Board of Trustees began its search for MSU Denver’s next leader, we knew we needed someone strategic, charismatic and fully committed to our student-focused mission. We also needed someone to continue the upward trajectory of our amazing institution and, in her words, move to the next “moonshot.” Given her previous leadership experience and work over the last four months, I and the entire Board of Trustees feel confident in saying that we made a great decision. President Davidson has made student success her top priority. She’s also tackling issues at the University that might impede that goal, such as shrinking resources at the state level and inefficient internal processes. She’s created six councils to address some of the most pressing issues affecting the institution. She’s also demonstrated her commitment to transparency and a genuine focus on engagement with the Roadrunner community. Her semi-regular video series has become a must-see and she’s planning monthly pizza socials with students, too.

Metropolitan Denver Magazine is published three times a year by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Office of Marketing and Communications. © 2017 Metropolitan State University of Denver. All rights reserved. Address correspondence to: Metropolitan Denver Magazine, MSU Denver, Office of Marketing and Communications, Campus Box 86, PO Box 173362, Denver, CO 80217-3362. Email: The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of Metropolitan State University of Denver nor imply endorsement by its officers or by the MSU Denver Alumni Association. Metropolitan State University of Denver does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability in admissions or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs or activities.



I’ve been so impressed with her inclusive and intentional leadership skills, an approach she honed during her unique journey to the MSU Denver presidency. You can read all about that journey in the main feature of this issue of the magazine. Beyond that, you’ll find stories about some of the impressive Roadrunner alumni who are making an impact in the community. We have a leader in Denver Public Schools, a toy designer, a dentist and a basketball coach. It’s these types of alumni whom President Davidson is referring to when she talks about the importance of making sure students graduate and launch into the workforce. Every student who graduates has the potential to transform the Colorado community and world. I’ll finish my term as board chair this December. All told, I’ve served on the board for a decade and have witnessed firsthand the incredible growth taking place at MSU Denver. Under the direction of Janine Davidson and with your support, we will continue to take this University to new heights. Sincerely,

Michelle Lucero Chair, MSU Denver Board of Trustees



We asked you this question on social media: What advice do you have

for President Davidson as she embarks on her first year in office? John S. Keep local

business and industry involved with the campus ... internships, visiting-lecturer positions, field trips, etc.

Megan Reyes As enrollment of

traditional students increases, don’t underestimate the potential, power and contribution of nontraditional students!

Frances Boyd Diversify the

locations of classes by subject – make some of the 100-level aviation classes in buildings other than the aviation one. This would help more with networking by increasing the overall society each student is introduced to.

Paula Leek Strong connections

and communication with the faculty will give you a much better idea of what is going on throughout the University.

Linda Ruiz Work with

innovative entrepreneurs who support first-gen and historically underrepresented populations to break the cycle of stagnant social mobility.

David G. Castañeda Increase support for military veterans by providing skills to successfully adapt to a culture outside the military. Greg Shelley Dream big and

carry us into an even brighter future. I’ll follow. Thanks for taking on the responsibility of leadership for us.

Jalal Haidar More partnerships

Erron Fritchman More

Rachel Probst

involvement in STEM.

Ed Durnford Keeping costs

down, class schedules flexible and professors who teach are what allowed MSU Denver to grow from college to university. In short, keep focused on the students, and don’t try to become your competition. Proud MSU Denver graduate of 1985!

with industry and government to enhance career opportunities for the student population. Establish an advisory council of distinguished and leading MSU Denver alumni/graduates to help promote the University and its graduates. Empower alumni office. Good luck with the new task.

Jennifer Johnson More options for master’s programs for alumni.

Mark Faulkner Always

Laurel Jean Becker Keep MSU Denver relevant for older students.

remember past the spreadsheets and tasks at hand that there are young minds ready to be taught and ready to become leaders for the generations that follow. Respect and sincerity in all things even as we deal with the challenges. Best wishes on your new adventure. Lead well.

Janine Jackson Promote interdependent departments/ offices. Build strong, long-term relationships with alumni and donors.

*Some responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Stay true to your principles; while it is important to represent what MSU Denver cares about, remember that what you want is still significant. Good luck!

Angelena Cole Engage all of the MSU Denver stakeholders to keep the institution growing as the preeminent university in Colorado. Take into consideration how decisions you make will impact the futures of the University, its students, faculty, staff and alumni. Create your own legacy like Dr. J did. Aaron Futrell Embrace the

diversity of MSU Denver, attend as many basketball games as your schedule allows, and promote transparency among offices on campus. Also, reach out to alumni.


Everyone has a story to tell and we want to hear yours! Email us:



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MSU Denver continues to have an impact on and off campus.


WE STAND WITH DACA STUDENTS When news broke Sept. 5 about the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the MSU Denver administration jumped into action. That afternoon, President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., sent a letter to the campus community affirming the University’s commitment to DACA students and employees. “[They] are valuable contributors to our learning community and among the hardest workers we have on campus,” she wrote. “They have come to MSU Denver to better their lives, families and communities; in short, to achieve the American dream. I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that they can continue to do so.” Davidson also penned a letter to President Donald Trump and worked the phones, speaking with local and national legislators, urging them to advocate on behalf of DACA students. Meanwhile, thousands of students and supporters from across metro Denver gathered on campus for a peaceful rally in support of the DACA program.

Later that week, the Board of Trustees released a statement expressing strong opposition to the dissolution of DACA and calling on Congress to act quickly on behalf of students. “We stand in solidarity with the Colorado congressional delegation that is championing compassionate legislative solutions in Washington, D.C., by signing onto the Dream Act and urge all members of the Colorado delegation to do so on behalf of the thousands of ‘Dreamers’ in our state.” The following Monday, the University organized a DACA resource panel, featuring representatives from the Counseling Center, Dean of Students Office, Faculty Senate, Immigrant Services, AHEC police, the student group RISE and President Davidson. The panel was the first of several informational events held on campus to provide advice to students and employees struggling with uncertainty in the face of the decision. The University also set up a donation page for DACA students. SUPPORT DACA STUDENTS HERE: READ MORE:



NOW YOU CAN VISIT CAMPUS … FROM YOUR COMPUTER Been wanting to get back to campus but can’t find the time? Here’s some good news: You can take a digital spin around MSU Denver and the Auraria Campus in a newly launched virtual tour. See what’s changed since your last visit at

PRESIDENT WELCOMES COMMUNITY QUESTIONS IN TOWN HALL EVENT On Sept. 14, President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., participated in a town hall meeting, answering a broad range of questions and further clarifying her vision for the future of the University. The event was sponsored by the MSU Denver Champions advocacy group and moderated by 2011 journalism alumnus Nicholas Garcia, an affiliate faculty member and deputy bureau chief for the online education news organization Chalkbeat Colorado. Davidson fielded questions from Garcia about her military background, commitment to an access-driven mission and support for those affected by changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. PHOTOS CARL GLENN PAYNE

Attendees then had the opportunity to ask questions in person, via telephone conference call or on social media. Subjects included University infrastructure, support for veteran students and inclusivity for students of color. SEE A VIDEO OF THE EVENT:



Four Roadrunners comprise the first class of recipients of the Molly and Rob Cohen Athletic Pacesetter Scholarship Program, a new endowment made possible by the Rob and Molly Cohen Family Foundation. The Cohen family’s gift starts with student-athlete scholarships and will later provide funds for facilities and the general student body. Robert Cohen, chairman and CEO of the IMA Financial Group Inc. has supported MSU Denver for close to three decades as a member of the Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees.

Pictured from left to right at the endowment announcement event: Anthony Grant, director of athletics; Stephen Jordan, former president; Rob Cohen, trustee; Molly Cohen; Joan McDermott, former director of athletics; Ruthie Jordan; and Janine Davidson, president.



“Our family feels strongly about the positive impact of this University on the urban Denver community,” Cohen said. “We feel there’s no better way to continue that tradition than to invest in the success of some of the school’s most visible, hardest-working students.” The Regency Athletic Complex’s 23,000 square-foot athletic center was named the Cohen Center for Athletics in honor of the family’s continuing contributions. READ MORE:


CHRISTINE SIERRA, PH.D. This year’s Richard T. Castro distinguished professor spoke about Latinas in politics at a Sept. 25 event. Sierra is an emeritus professor at the University of New Mexico whose area of study is American politics.


The special agent and director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service spoke about his agency’s work investigating and defeating terrorist, foreign-intelligence and criminal threats to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps at two events Oct. 11-12.


The acclaimed author read from her book “Citizen,” which examines racism through essays, poetry and art. The Nov. 16 event also featured Mayor Michael Hancock and was part of a citywide initiative to engage in dialogue about race and social justice.

VICENTE FOX TALKS LEADERSHIP, BUSINESS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES Former Mexican President Vicente Fox brought his animated speaking style and expertise in global business to MSU Denver on Aug. 30. The event was one of the final stops for Fox as part of a three-day Global Trade and Investment Forum, hosted by the Global Chamber Denver and cosponsored by the MSU Denver College of Business. Fox delivered an inspiring keynote address and participated in a panel with Gov. John Hickenlooper and Canadian Consul Stephane Lessard. MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., moderated the panel. “Today’s world can be defined by one word: uncertainty,” Fox said during his speech. “How can we defeat uncertainty? It’s enlightenment. It’s knowledge. It’s education.”


Fox touched on hot-button topics such as immigration, politics and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he called a “win-win-win situation.” He also emphasized the importance of compassionate leadership during uncertain times and the benefits that come from working in unity rather than isolation.

In her introductory remarks, Davidson expressed excitement about hosting global leaders on campus and lauded Fox’s commitment to education as a means of social change. “He understands the importance of education as part of a holistic approach to economic development and the key ingredient in improving people’s lives,” she said. About 500 people attended the forum, which was held in the King Center Concert Hall on the Auraria Campus. More than 200 of those were students. After the forum, Fox and Davidson toured MSU Denver’s Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, of particular interest given Mexico’s large investments in the advanced manufacturing space. During his talk, Fox said Mexico is the “most competitive manufacturing economy in the world.” READ MORE: vicente-fox-talks-leadershipbusiness-in-uncertain-times




BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine recognized MSU Denver as a Diversity Champion institution for the second year in a row. Diversity Champions exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels. Myron Anderson, associate to the president for diversity, says the award acknowledges the strides the University has made in diversity and inclusion efforts over the past year. Some of these include more than 90 percent of faculty of color receiving tenure, designing and implementing an anti-workplacebullying effort to improve the campus climate, leadership in STEM diversity and educational equity, and successful continuation of the effort to achieve Hispanic-Serving Institution status. “This is meaningful because it’s inclusive,” Anderson said. “The work of the entire MSU Denver community is realized in this award. It’s for all of us.”

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS VISIT MSU DENVER DURING AUGUST BREAK Colorado U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Mike Coffman were on campus in August to meet President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., for the first time and discuss shared priorities. DeGette’s Aug. 24 visit included a luncheon with Davidson and a conversation about the role of higher education in providing a workforce pipeline for state industry, among other relevant topics. A tour of the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building followed the discussion. The congresswoman also spoke with students from the Metropolitan, MSU Denver’s campus newspaper. “This new building takes the University to the next level,” she said. “It provides a real benefit to students.”



Coffman came to campus a day later to discuss the national pilot shortage as it relates to the “1,500-hour rule,” a training requirement implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013. After that discussion, Davidson accompanied Coffman on a tour of the AES Building and the World Indoor Airport, where the University is training future pilots to help address the shortage. “I am proud to see such a stateof-the-art facility in Colorado, responsible for training the pilots of tomorrow,” Coffman said. “I commend Dr. Janine Davidson on her leadership and vision for MSU Denver in Denver.”


UNIVERSITY ENROLLMENT TRENDING UP Enrollment is up slightly, and the University is becoming more diverse. Those were the top takeaways from the fall 2017 census, the results of which were released in September. The census showed that enrollment rose by 0.5 percent over fall 2016, breaking a downward trend over the past six years. The total head count stands at 19,544. “We have finally stopped the decline,” said Lori Kester, associate vice president of enrollment management. “That’s why we’re going to be focused on student success, so we can keep more students here and on track toward graduation.” The University also achieved Latino enrollment of 26.4 percent – a major requirement for designation as a HispanicServing Institution by the federal government (see Page 10 for more on this topic). In another positive development, the number of freshman students increased by 7.1 percent over last year – a number that bested recent projections. The uptick means more students are choosing MSU Denver directly from high school. “We’re now hearing from high schools that MSU Denver is the No. 1 choice, and we’re moving away from being the backup application,” Kester said.

Here are a few more numbers of note:

• Female students make up 53.3 percent of the student body. Male students represent 46.7 percent. • The median student age is 23 – unchanged from the past two years. • Students of color make up 42 percent of the student body, up from 39.5 percent in 2016. • There are 357 ASSET students. • 33.9 percent are eligible for Pell grants.

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WANT MORE? Keep up to date with MSU Denver news at WINTER 2017



‘This is who


we are’



The Auraria Campus lies within the boundaries of Denver Public Schools, where more than half of schoolchildren are Latino.

ever talked to her about college. Born and raised in Denver, she spent her freshman year of high school in Mexico.

A third of Colorado’s public school students identify as Hispanic or Latino, a figure that goes up every year.

“My mom was going through the immigration process, and there was this wait where we had to leave the country,” she says.

So MSU Denver made a pledge.

The oldest of three girls, Lopez-Rodriguez entered Westminster High School in Adams County her sophomore year. She and her friends never even brought up the idea of going to college – ever.

The University set out to raise its rate of Latino enrollment from 1 in 8 to 1 in 4 – and in doing so, to achieve the status of Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI, by fall 2018. The federal designation lets colleges compete for grants worth millions of dollars that pay for the resources believed to be most needed among the nation’s growing population of Latino students in higher ed – things that improve access, recruitment, transfer, retention and completion. Those resources can be used for the benefit of all the University’s students. MSU Denver’s HSI Task Force recently learned that this fall’s enrollment percentage was 26.4, exceeding the federal requirement of 25 percent for a Hispanic-Serving Institution for the first time. But HSI is about more than just the designation or the funding, says Angela Marquez, Ph.D., MSU Denver’s new special assistant to the president for HSI, who was recently promoted to lead the initiative. “Our mission is to educate the students of Colorado,” she says. “It’s a diverse state with a large Hispanic population. This is who we are.”


The effort is already elevating lives. Angelica Lopez-Rodriguez was a senior in high school before anyone

“It wasn’t until my second semester as a senior when I kept getting these passes to go to the library,” she says. “It happened to be the Excel Program. They were the first ones to talk to me about college.” MSU Denver’s Excel Pre-Collegiate Program sends professional guidance counselors and student ambassadors to high schools in metro Denver where Latino populations are large and resources are in short supply. The “passes” provide a chance to meet for one-on-one college counseling. Excel in its current form is a product of the HSI initiative, says Luis Sandoval, the program’s associate director in the Office of Admissions. The counselors and ambassadors help high school students with their applications to MSU Denver but also advise on college in general. They assist with applications to other institutions as well, along with financial aid forms, scholarship essays and “whatever it takes to educate these students on what it means to go to college,” Sandoval says. “We do a lot of really intrusive counseling,” he says. It makes a big difference for families that have never been through the process. Lopez-Rodriguez experienced the Excel method firsthand that day in the library.



Like half of MSU Denver’s Latino students – and nearly a third of students enrolled at the University now, regardless of ethnicity – she’s among the first generation in her family to go to college.

If this fall’s overall Latino enrollment is an indication of end-of-term FTE, that minimum will be met even sooner. As of the Sept. 6 student census, the student body identified as 26.4 percent Latino overall.

In the beginning, she didn’t want to apply. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would get accepted into college or what that process really looked like,” Lopez-Rodriguez says.

Meanwhile, the HSI Task Force is working on ideas adopted when the plan kicked into high gear in 2015 – ways to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution, not just to become one.

She tried stalling. “My response was, ‘I have time after graduation.’ They were like, ‘No, well, you should apply.’” That first acceptance letter was the only one she was destined to receive – as an undergrad.

Outcomes include the University’s new Spanish-language website,, and a new financial aid application specific to the institution that lets undocumented students apply without filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, as they had to do in the past using a “proxy” ID number.

“As soon as I had my acceptance letter, I went back to the library,” LopezRodriguez says. “They said, ‘Congratulations. Also, do you have any other schools you would like to apply to?’

MSU Denver’s new Dreamer Network has started conducting UndocuPeers training on documentation and citizenship status for the campus community.

“I told them no.”

“I feel like we’re making progress,” Marquez says. “I’m looking at it from the perspective of not only how do we improve the student experience to retain and graduate our Hispanic students, but also how do we improve to increase the completion rates for all of our students?”

She was still nervous about being rejected. “I just wanted to start off with this school first,” she says. Lopez-Rodriguez hesitated to apply for one of Excel’s scholarships, too. “They said, ‘Well, either way, apply.’ We spent a good hour or so talking about why I wanted to go to college.” The brainstorming session resulted in her scholarship essay and a subsequent invitation to senior awards night at Westminster High in honor of winning. Looking back, the Excel Program had a “huge impact,” she says. “I probably wouldn’t have gone to college if I hadn’t taken their little pass.”

The next step in establishing eligibility is to show whether MSU Denver meets the federal law’s need-based requirement that at least 50 percent of total students are eligible for federal Title IV financial aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Work Study, Federal Perkins Loan or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs.


A Fort Morgan native and graduate of Adams City High School in Commerce City, Magaly Sanchez De La Cruz gave back to, and got support from, the Excel Program when she started at MSU Denver in fall 2015.


Working as an Excel student ambassador helped her meet people on campus and encouraged her to start going to events, such as those offered by the First Year Success Program. If she had a problem with financial aid or a class, she took it to the Excel office.

It was never just about high school students.

Now as a junior majoring in social work, she serves as a mentor to new MSU Denver students recruited through Excel. She tries to keep in touch with her charges daily, at least by email.

MSU Denver’s HSI Task Force dates to 2007, early in the tenure of then-University President Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D., who set forth the Hispanic-Serving mission.

Prior to her promotion this past summer, Marquez was already a member of the HSI Task Force’s working group on transfer enrollment. “We launched an ethnicity-declaration campaign, assessed part-time students to determine their reasons for part-time enrollment and talked about things like: How do we improve the transfer processes and the acceptance of transfer credits?” she says.

“I really enjoy having contact with students who are like me, helping them be less stressed, less anxious about school,” Sanchez De La Cruz says.

Colorado was home to nine institutions that met the federal HSI enrollment threshold in 2015-16, according to the nonprofit Excelencia in Education. Across the U.S., there were 472 colleges.

Among Latino students facing unique anxieties this fall have been MSU Denver’s “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as minors and applied to have deportation deferred under the Obama administration’s program known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Jordan relaunched MSU Denver’s HSI initiative in 2015 to take it “over the finish line” and tapped Esther Rodriguez to lead the effort. Rodriguez, who retired in June 2017, spearheaded the HSI implementation team with a goal of reaching the federal requirement of 25 percent undergraduate, full-time equivalent students identifying as Latino by 2018. FTE is a calculation that factors in part-time students as a fraction.

When President Donald Trump in early September announced his intention to end DACA, students wanted to know whether the Auraria Campus Police Department would cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (not without a warrant for a crime, according to the chief); whether student teaching could be done without a work permit; and even whether DACA students should worry about their parents being identified using the federal application.




As of the Sept. 6 student census, the MSU Denver student body identified as 26.4 percent Latino overall. Social work student Magaly Sanchez De La Cruz ties a piece of thread onto the interactive art installation titled “We Are HSI.” Created by students in the Communication Design Program, the work represents the value of diversity. The news made a palpable impact on campus. Participation in the Dreamer Network had already grown significantly since Trump’s election. With the proposed end of DACA, demonstrators marched in support of those students. MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., and the MSU Denver Board of Trustees released messages of assurance to the campus community and promised to continue working with state and national leaders to advocate on behalf of DACA students. A panel of experts from across the campus convened on a Monday to address DACA students’ fears, and by Thursday of the same week, Trump had alluded to a legislative deal that could protect those who benefit from DACA.


Lopez-Rodriguez graduated from MSU Denver with a bachelor’s in human services and a concentration in high-risk youth. She’s just started pursuing her master’s in counseling at the University of Colorado Denver, where she works in Undocumented Student Services. Her youngest sister says MSU Denver is her dream school. The Excel Pre-Collegiate Program performed 1,529 unique “student check-ins” during the 2016-17 academic year. MSU Denver received

553 applications directly via the program – more than 700 altogether if you count applications submitted by every student contacted. With demand on the rise for Excel counselors, organizers recently switched over to a presentation format. Whereas in the past, 40 passes might have brought in eight students, with the new format 24 passes could net 25 students for one-on-one help, says Sandoval. At the same time, MSU Denver students self-identifying as Latino grew by 8.1 percent overall from last fall to this one, a big boost for the HSI initiative. Davidson talked about Latino enrollment in her first Town Hall Q&A. She took that opportunity to renew the University’s pledge. “The Hispanic-Serving Institution as a goal, which was set by my predecessor, Dr. Jordan, was exactly the right goal for a lot of reasons,” Davidson says. “Educators know, and we all sort of know it in our hearts, that you’re going to be more successful in an educational environment if you feel like you belong here. … Lifting the population at MSU Denver to get us to HSI status gets us to that critical mass where I think people do feel, then, that they have a sense of belonging. “That’s why the numbers matter.”



A look at where Roadrunners live and how they’re using their degrees after MSU Denver.

Alumni by the numbers 89,732 Total graduates 79%

Colorado 68,726

64% 55,740

10 county area/Denver metro


56% 49,936 Female

44% 39,796 Male

.35% 303


Top 3 international countries 1 Canada 2 Japan 3 England


National, outside Colorado

Top 5 states outside Colorado 1 California


2 Texas


3 Florida

4 Arizona

5 Washington

Percentages for alumni living in Colorado, the nation and internationally were calculated using the number of reachable alumni 86,996. Data valid as of Nov. 30, 2017.




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

4,985 Accounting

4,902 Criminal justice and criminology

4,564 Management

4,464 Psychology

4,027 Behavioral Science

3,523 Biology

3,010 English

2,976 History

2,652 Marketing

2,563 Nursing





Information technology and services Gretchen Healey* (computer information systems ’97) President, Pangolin Media


Marketing and advertising


Education management




Health, wellness and fitness



Computer software

Financial services Kenneth Caiani* (finance ’92) President, EnerCom Inc.



1,048 Retail



Hospital and health care Janine Hopkins* (health care management ’01) Director of Donor Services at LifeSource ITxM


Government administration




Real estate John Covert* (land use ’95) Director at Metrostudy




Higher education




Nonprofit organization management

Accounting Mike Weiss* (accounting ’83) CFO of CG Electrical, LLC


Oil and energy


Primary/secondary education

*Let us know what you are doing in the professional world. Update your profile:





Janine Davidson knew she wanted to fly. She fell in love with planes as a preteen living on an air base in Virginia Beach, where her father, a U.S. Navy admiral, was stationed. She and her brother would bike to the airstrip to watch fighter planes take off. “It sounds ridiculous because this would never happen today, but we’d ride right onto the flight line and knock on the door of the tower,” she recalls. “They would let us up, and we’d talk on the radio. We’d say things like ‘clear to land’ or ‘clear to take off.’” Despite feeling called to fly, her dream of being a pilot almost didn’t get off the ground.





… she did get into pilot training, one of only about 20 women in the country selected for the program, the first leg of a journey that would lead her to be the first woman to fly a C-130 plane.

(Opposite page) Davidson and her husband David Kilcullen, an Australian author, strategist and counterinsurgency expert, who she jokingly refers to as the “first bloke.” 18



(Left to right clockwise) Janine Davidson and her brother Jim Davidson pictured at an air show in the 1970s; Davidson in her early days posing for what is known as a “hero shot” in the U.S. Air Force; A vintage photo of Davidson piloting a plane.

As a senior in high school, Davidson interviewed for the Navy ROTC. She hoped the interview would earn her a scholarship to college and a career flying F-14s. When the officer asked what she wanted to do in the Navy, she told him as much. He replied: “They don’t let girls fly fighter planes.” No one had told her that, so she said what any “sassy” 17-year-old would say: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Needless to say, she did not earn a Navy ROTC scholarship. But that “failure,” as she describes it, did lead her in a different – and more auspicious – direction. At her father’s suggestion, she applied for an Air Force ROTC scholarship instead. She earned a full ride to college at the University of Colorado Boulder, which she could not have afforded otherwise. There, Davidson met her mentor, Col. Robert Mock, who headed up the ROTC program. Mock would later teach aviation at MSU Denver, eventually becoming dean, and was so beloved that the University named its flight-training facility in his honor – the MSU Denver Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport. Mock supported Davidson’s dream every step of the way. “He really pushed me and another woman who wanted to be a pilot forward,” Davidson says. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized he caught a lot of grief from his colleagues for supporting us. I honestly feel like if I had gone someplace else, where I didn’t have a guy like him, I may not have ever gotten into pilot training.” But she did get into pilot training, one of only about 20 women in the country selected for the program, the first leg of a journey that would lead her to be the first woman to fly a C-130 plane. She would go on to get her doctoral degree in international studies and later, as a civilian, hold multiple leadership positions in the Pentagon, the most recent of which was – in something of an ironic twist – undersecretary of the U.S. Navy. Since July 24, she’s taken to piloting a different kind of plane as the ninth president of MSU Denver. “Every day I wake up and come in here, and I realize this was definitely the right choice for me,” she says. “The mission of this University is so compelling and the people are compassionate, and that, to me, is really 90 percent of why you’d want to get up in the morning.”


Davidson strode across the stage of the King Center Concert Hall, sporting a Roadrunner-red dress and the smile of someone who was exactly where she was meant to be. This was Sept. 13, her first major address to the University. She stepped up to the podium, took a breath and launched into her speech, laying out her vision for the future of the institution. A few minutes into the address, two things had become clear. First, Davidson is funny. She peppered her talk with humorous asides and showed a natural sense of comic timing. And second, there would be no question about the focus of her presidency. “My top three priorities are students, students and students,” she said to the packed house, a line that drew plenty of laughs but also underscored the central theme of her vision: student success. In particular, she emphasized the importance of ensuring that all students have access to upward mobility through higher education – in short, the American dream. “We are a university that doesn’t define itself by who we exclude but by who we include,” she said. “This is one of the most important roles higher education has played in our nation … but it is getting harder and harder. Despite the challenges to affordability, MSU Denver should be the model for how to keep this dream alive.” Davidson’s vision comprised five focus areas. Two directly addressed student outcomes: strengthening the systems that help students graduate and delivering on the promise of preparing students for fulfilling and lucrative work after college. The other three areas aim to improve the University’s processes to better serve students while also making the institution a top place to work in Colorado. She said a top priority would be to tackle shrinking resources by building on this year’s record-breaking fundraising numbers and also through the development of additional public-private partnerships. She also spoke about investing in people through better employee engagement and compensation as well as her aim to lead with inclusivity and intention. To take a deeper look at the five focus areas, Davidson announced plans for the creation of new issue-oriented councils to examine challenges and provide recommendations to the President’s Cabinet. These councils will include members from across the University and look at things such as strategy, processes and culture.



With this work, Davidson believes MSU Denver can become “a model urban university for opportunity, diversity, excellence and transformation.” The core of her vision was shaped by several months of listening sessions with the campus community and external stakeholders. Besides meeting face-to-face with a variety of constituents, Davidson organized an anonymous online survey, which received nearly 2,000 submissions. During her listening tour, Davidson learned a lot about the characteristics that make MSU Denver graduates unique and that employers have come to expect from the University’s alumni. She shared the five traits she heard most often: tenacious, diverse, primed, purposeful and entrepreneurial, which she coined the “Roadrunner Difference.” “I am committed to ensuring the Roadrunner Difference endures,” she said, “that we continue to deliver high-quality education at an affordable price to as many would-be Roadrunners who want to take this journey.”


Some careers run in families: teachers, doctors, business owners. Davidson likes to joke that her family’s business is leadership. Her father was an admiral in the Navy. Her uncle ran a nonprofit. The list goes on. By way of explanation, she shares a story from seventh grade. Her school principal announced that there would be elections for leaders of her class. The principal said there was no pressure to run since in every situation there are leaders and followers. She recounted this to her father after school, and he responded, “No way. You’re not a follower.” She thought her father was being unreasonable and tried to explain again what the principal said. But her father was adamant that she run. And she did. “I ran for secretary but didn’t win,” she says with a laugh. “But that was the expectation.” Clearly, the lesson sank in.

Janine Davidson laughs during the Q&A portion of her Welcome Home address.




Davidson has extensive experience leading complex organizations. Most recently, she served as the 32nd undersecretary of the Navy, managing all Department of the Navy affairs, including Navy and Marine Corps integration, acquisition, finance, personnel, legislative affairs, research and development. In that role, she was responsible for the health and well-being of nearly 900,000 sailors, Marines, civilians and their families. Davidson also has nearly 30 years of experience in military operations, national-security policy and academic research. As an analyst and academic, she was a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she is a lifetime member. She has taught national-security policy and political science at Georgetown University, George Mason University and Davidson College. You may have even seen her on cable news programs, where she periodically served as a national-security expert. It’s this unusual combination of skills that propelled her into the role of president at MSU Denver, not one she necessarily imagined for herself during those early years, when her primary focus was on flying.

“I don’t think a lot of kids imagine themselves as university presidents,” she says. “But all joking aside, the vast majority of people, people who I interviewed when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, people who are happy and also successful, almost always say, ‘I never thought I’d be doing this.’ So how does that happen? I never thought I’d be a university president. Turns out, it’s awesome.” Her own “zigzagging” path is one of the ways she feels kinship with MSU Denver students. She also understands what it feels like to be underestimated for reasons outside of her control. She says that regardless of where students come from, she wants them to know that MSU Denver is a place where they can feel a sense of belonging. That support can be the foundation that enables them to finish their degrees. “We need to graduate more of our students because clearly, our students who do graduate do very well,” she says. “So, we need to make sure all barriers to graduating are removed, whether it’s financial or emotional or anything else, and that’s why we’re focused so much on student success. I want to put out as many Roadrunners into Denver and beyond as we can. I want to see them take flight.”

ALL CLEAR FOR TAKEOFF In September, President Davidson laid out her vision for MSU Denver: to become the model urban university for opportunity, diversity, excellence and transformation. She identified five focus areas through which the University could achieve its goal.

Strengthen student success

Invest in people

Students are the top priority, and MSU Denver will ensure that they receive the support they need to graduate, get good jobs and move up the economic ladder. To do so, the University will redesign its studentservices structure to enhance recruitment, retention, graduation and career services.

student success and the delivery of the University’s mission. Accordingly, MSU Denver will work to improve employee compensation and engagement, becoming a destination of choice for faculty, staff and students.

Address shrinking resources With state support at an all-time low, MSU Denver will develop a fundingsustainment plan and place additional emphasis on fundraising to ensure it is getting the most out of limited resources and keeping the dream of higher education within reach for all students.

Faculty and staff are essential to

Deliver on the promise MSU Denver remains committed to past priorities while also continuing to talk to employers, parents and community leaders about what graduates need to be successful and developing innovative, scalable programs to address those needs.

Lead inclusively and with intention

Six “issue-oriented” councils will be created to provide recommendations on top priorities and emerging issues. These inclusive faculty- and staffled councils will focus on strategy; academic excellence and student success; culture and the workplace; built environment and infrastructure; University policy; and fiscal responsibility. READ MORE OF THE PRESIDENT’S VISION:






A CLASS ACT Her own road has been paved with service and advocacy. And now, as chief of family and community engagement for Denver Public Schools, Tameka Brigham, Ed.D., is laying the foundation for young people to run their own roads.

mentorship and deep ties to community engagement helped affirm her own commitment to justice-based advocacy, first as a student and later as an affiliate faculty member in Africana studies, where she still teaches.

“Growing up a military brat, I understand the sacrifices that veterans and families make to afford opportunities for others,” says the 1999 graduate in sociology and Africana studies. “In that way, it’s part of my DNA to be aware of those who don’t have a seat at the table.”

In her current job at DPS, she works directly with people from Denver neighborhoods and elected officials to pay forward that educational experience.

After graduation from MSU Denver, Brigham worked for the Urban League, headed then by a pre-mayoral Michael Hancock, before jumping into the classroom to teach kindergarten and middle school social studies at DPS. She then pursued graduate school and a job with Teach for America, where she developed an even deeper commitment to the transformative power of education. Brigham credits professors such as C.J. White, Akbarali Thobani and Rosemarie Allen as instrumental in shaping her development at MSU Denver. Their

“At MSU Denver, you interact with everyone from valedictorians to those taking another shot academically. It brings a richness and diversity that elevates voices,” Brigham says. “I see that alignment within DPS too, and I’m proud to be part of these organizations that share similar values.” A champion for underrepresented communities, Brigham has been active in legislative advocacy as a co-author of the report “Keeping Up With the Kids: Increasing Minority Teacher Representation in Colorado,” which was prepared for the state’s Department of Education. Her leadership work at DPS is devoted to making sure the voices of

community stakeholders are amplified so that each individual child can one day see themselves in an executive position as well. She knows the importance of this type of role modeling from her time as a Roadrunner, as she described the power of seeing herself reflected in classroom leadership. “Attending MSU Denver was the first time I encountered an educator of color, and that was transformative,” she says. “Now, I’m always thinking about how to pay it forward for another young person in the same way; there’s just something about picking up a book by a faculty member who looks like you.” It’s about understanding the importance of people and place, of meeting individuals where they are to do the most good. And for the road-building Brigham, it couldn’t have happened anywhere else. “From being a student to teaching here, I’ve always appreciated the unique opportunity MSU Denver affords,” she says. “This University will always be a part of me – it’s always been home.”




Basketball runs in the blood of the aptly named Bahl family. Long before Michael Bahl was named head coach of a Division II powerhouse, and well before he led the country in 3-point percentage playing for the same team, he was just a kid watching basketball all over metro Denver. His dad, Joe, coached high school teams to the state playoffs at McNichols Sports Arena, the former home of the Denver Nuggets. That’s where Michael fell in love with the game, watching teenagers compete for championships about a mile from where he’s tried to do the same as a player and coach at MSU Denver. As Bahl tells it, he never really had a choice when it came to basketball. As the son of a coach and the youngest of four siblings, all of whom landed college basketball scholarships, he was probably the only kid in his kindergarten class who would rather talk pick-and-rolls than Play-Doh. Bahl played for the Roadrunners from 2003 to 2007, making the NCAA Tournament all four years and twice serving as captain. But he says he wasn’t even the best player in the family until he was 18 or 19, although there’s still some debate to this day. “Our pickup games get really competitive. We still shoot around occasionally, and we’re all heavily involved in the game in one aspect – youth, high school or college,” Bahl says of his family. His brother Stephen’s success at Colorado School of Mines helped Michael land at MSU Denver, which had won two national championships in three years when he arrived on campus. “My brother was very successful at Mines, and I was about 4 inches taller, so I got recruited pretty hard,” he says. “MSU Denver was the pinnacle of basketball at the time, so I took a leap of faith with a nudge from my dad. It was the best decision I’ve made in my life.” Bahl spent seven seasons as a Division II assistant coach before being promoted to head coach at MSU Denver, and yet he says he may not even be the most accomplished basketball mind in his own house. His wife, Amy, who played college hoops for Fort Lewis and professionally in Sweden, coached Evergreen High School to its first state title in March. Bahl calls her his secret weapon – someone who not only understands the time commitment it takes to be a coach but also has a deep understanding of the game. “She’ll say one or two things after each game,” he says. “She’s always the voice of reason and will tell me things I don’t want to hear.” A lifelong Coloradan, Bahl has spent a third of his life on the MSU Denver bench, 11-plus years total. As the first alumnus to coach the Roadrunners, Bahl is enjoying what he calls “the best seat in Division II basketball.” And he welcomes the high expectations from a fan base that knows him. “This is my home. This has always been my dream job,” Bahl says. “This is the best job in the country for our level, and it’s better than 50 percent of the Division I schools. The resources we have – the support from the top of the administration down – we are set up to succeed.” But Bahl and his Roadrunners aren’t taking any of that for granted. The team motto this year is: “Success is not owned; it is rented, and rent is due every day.” Bahl’s been paying rent at MSU Denver for a long time, and success will surely follow.







Sharon Park has a distinct memory from her childhood: standing in the aisle of a toy store, a soon-to-be-opened box in her hands and an irrepressible feeling of joy in her heart. These days, the 31-year-old toy designer spends her time trying to re-create that feeling for others. As a member of the design team at Kidrobot, Park dreams up, draws up and develops toys for today’s vinyl-art collectors. She even gets to play in the worlds of other creators, designing toys based on TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “South Park.” “I am supposed to be adulting,” Park says. “But I guess I just see the world more like a child, with a kind of awe and wonder. That’s why I have the perfect job for me.” And yet there was a time when it didn’t seem likely she’d end up a designer at all. Her parents wanted her to be a pharmacist – a good, stable career that paid well. And as a first-year student at MSU Denver, she followed their directive, studying biology and taking other prerequisites. But something didn’t feel right.

So she began to look at majors that would allow her to express herself artistically. “I’ve always loved to create things,” she says, “so when I discovered industrial design, I knew I’d found the right fit.” Her parents were predictably unhappy with the change of direction. But Park says she’s not someone who likes to take no for an answer. Her first class only confirmed the decision. While she was nervous about operating the heavy tools and machinery, she quickly learned to love the work. She learned something about herself, too. Regardless of the assignment, everything she created had a playful aspect to it. She traced this unexpected inspiration back to her childhood, a clear sign of things to come. Park graduated from MSU Denver in December 2012 and scored a job with Kidrobot in 2015. She’s been with the company since and says she uses the skills developed during her studies every day. Her favorite project so far has been designing new characters for Kidrobot’s Yummy World line. Her favorite is the Cheesy Puffs plush. For the uninitiated, she explains: “It’s one of our most interactive plush toys, a mock cheese-puff bag about 24 inches tall with nine soft cheese balls inside. I loved imagining and creating the user experience of opening the bag, hearing the crunch of the puffs and pulling out the puffs to toss at friends. It was so much fun.” Park is clearly having the time of her life in the present but hopes the future holds even bigger things. She can imagine herself as a creative director or even starting her own design firm. As for where she finds inspiration these days, Park says she’s the weird person who digs around in the children’s toy boxes at friends’ houses. But she is most motivated by bringing joy into people’s lives through her designs. “I’ve gotten to see adults and younger enthusiasts interact with my designs,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like it. When they laugh or smile, and I can see their happiness, I know I’ve succeeded.”


When Dr. Tom Hoover thinks back on his days as a student at MSU Denver in the 1990s, two words come to mind: hard work. That’s not surprising. He took full class loads in the far-from-easy sciences and held a 40-plus-hour-a-week job at a King Soopers grocery store in Arvada, Colorado. “It made for a lot of very long days, but after five years I had two bachelor’s degrees and zero school debt,” Hoover says. “I was able to put my tuition and books on my credit card and pay it off over the course of the semester. All of it definitely instilled in me a very strong work ethic.”



Hoover graduated in 1998 with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology. Afterward, he went on to eight more years of schooling to become a dentist and eventually a periodontist. Today, he has a practice near Minneapolis. But he’s never forgotten his first posthigh school experiences at MSU Denver. In fact, he thinks of that time often with deep appreciation – the flexibility, the affordability and professors who inspired him to reach the highest pinnacle in medicine. Specifically, Hoover praised Patricia Stranahan, M.D., Ph.D., the former chair of MSU Denver’s Biology Department who taught anatomy and

physiology at the University and at dental school. “She was an amazing mentor. She helped me refine my study habits to excel in graduate school – something that guides me to this day. I can never thank her enough,” he says. But Hoover has found a way to say thanks and to give back to his alma mater. With a personal commitment of $25,000 and matching funds made available by the University, Hoover established a $50,000 scholarship fund to benefit biology students working their way through school. “I structured the scholarship that way because this was the type of student I

was,” Hoover says. “I had zero assistance from my parents as far as paying for school.” Hoover described his grades at MSU Denver as “decent.” “I graduated with a 3.59 GPA, not high enough to compete with the 4.0 students who might not have had to work full time to pay for school. So I wanted to reach out to students with aspirations to work in health sciences – who are in the same boat that I was in.” Details on the scholarship are still being ironed out, but Hoover says he prefers to make the money available to students with GPAs between 3.0 and 3.6.

Even though Hoover didn’t have the coveted 4.0, he says MSU Denver was “the perfect school” for a nontraditional student like him to achieve his educational goals and to set a proper foundation for graduate work. “I had wonderful teachers and mentors at MSU Denver,” he says. “I had the benefit of small classes and individualized attention when I needed it. I don’t think I could have done all of that at another school. These items would have been lacking at a larger college or university. It’s the best educational decision I made during my relatively long educational journey.”

People In Memory 1980s

Dorothy Lee McCarty (B.A. art ’87) June 2017


Minister Terry Lynn Lee (B.S. nursing, ’97) August 2017 Kirsten Stacey Meyer (B.S. marketing, ’97) July 2017 Deborah Vail (B.S. health care management, ’99) July 2017


Corene Jean Geist (B.A. behavioral science, ’02) July 2017

Faculty and staff

Edward L. Saindon taught in the Theatre Department until his death in October 2017.

projects included working for Colorado Opera and the Central City Opera.

Saindon, who was 37 years old, was a proud Colorado native and an avid supporter of the theater community. He attended the University of Northern Colorado and did his graduate work at Florida State University.

He enjoyed fly-fishing, craft breweries with friends, shooting and football. He often talked about how best to prepare students for the “real world” that he and his colleagues experienced, and often expressed how he enjoyed teaching in the Theatre Department.

Prior to returning to Colorado and teaching as an affiliate at MSU Denver, Saindon earned professional credits, including the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the Guthrie Theater, the Des Moines Metro Opera and the Virginia Opera. His most recent

Your source for MSU Denver news:

Samuel H. Seton was an information technology professional with the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs until his death in October 2017.

Seton was a lifelong learner, having taken a variety of classes at MSU Denver over the past five years. At the time of his passing, he was a computer science major and will be awarded an honorary bachelor’s degree in computer science at fall commencement 2017. He was soft-spoken, a problem-solver and always willing to help others. He will be sorely missed.

People Alumni News + Notes 1974

Peter Simon (B.A. history ’74), an accomplished pianist, launched a new tour in Texas in September 2017. Previously Simon toured throughout most of Europe and Asia, as well as several U.S. cities, including performances in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.


Stephen M. Siegal (B.A. political science ’81), a published author under the pseudonym: S. Michael Siegal, has completed his second fiction novel, “Contra Legem,” for Outskirts Press. The novel is a sequel to his first novel, “Cop Cohen.” Siegal recently retired from law enforcement after almost 36 years of service, which has helped him write novels relating to the police profession. His two novels are available at Outskirts Press,, and bookstores.


Tracy Miller (B.A. art, ’87) recently had her artwork featured in Cowboys and Indians Magazine.


Master Chief Daniel Jeffords (B.S. marketing, ’89) is retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard after 34 years of service. Jeffords served in other branches of the armed forces as well, including the Air Force, Air National Guard and Coast Guard Aviation. Jeffords was honored in a ceremony on Sept. 22, 2017, in Savannah, Georgia.


Kali Fajardo-Anstine (B.A. English, ’09) has had her short stories featured in the American Scholar, Boston Review, Southwestern American Literature and other publications. Fajardo-Anstine specializes in writing about Chicanas in the American West. Her debut novel, “Woman of Light” (being published by Random House), focuses on the migration of a family from southern Colorado to Denver in the first half of the 20th century. She lives in Durango, Colorado, where she teaches at Fort Lewis College.

Chris Tillman (B.A. management, ’09), a Navy veteran, was deployed to Texas as part of Team Rubicon to aid in relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey. Tillman plans to start working toward his MBA at MSU Denver in fall 2018.


April Zemyan (B.A. journalism, ’10) is currently a marketing manager for Dental Lifeline Network. Since graduating from MSU Denver in 2010, Zemyan has been primarily involved in nonprofit work, helping raise $1.5 million annually for the DLN. She has also led marketing initiatives to improve dental health for society’s most vulnerable individuals and was recently put in charge of her company’s internship program where she hires and develops interns from all walks of life who wish to advance their skills in marketing and communications.


Connect with fellow Roadrunners on LinkedIn


Did you know that nearly 80,000

Jordana (Deem) Reilly (M.A. teaching in special education, ’12) recently joined the Boys School of Denver for its inaugural year, serving as the special education teacher.

people follow MSU Denver on

Ashley S. Hattle (B.A. journalism, ’14) has published a book, “Cluster Headaches: A Guide to Surviving One of the Most Painful Conditions Known to Man,” based on her own experiences with the medical condition. She credits much of her success to the guidance and teachings of her MSU Denver professors in the Journalism Department.

LinkedIn? If you’re not one of


the latest happenings at the

Emiliano Ortiz (B.S. accounting, ’17) started his first professional accountant role at the Adams County Government building in Brighton, Colorado. Ortiz credits his MSU Denver education with helping him feel prepared for this next endeavor. “MSU Denver’s brand and reputation serve its purpose in getting students credible accreditation that puts our applications at the top of the list in any job search,” he said.

them, we’d love to have you join us. Being a part of the community is a great way to network with other alumni and to hear about all University. Search for Metropolitan State University of Denver on LinkedIn, and click the “follow” button.

SHARE YOUR NEWS Email your class notes to




FINALWORD An MSU Denver luminary talks Mile High City’s history and challenges. STORY CORY PHARE | PHOTO DAVE NELIGH


istory professor Stephen Leonard, Ph.D., has inspired a lot of learning over five decades at MSU Denver – and picked up a few good stories along the way.

How long have you been a Roadrunner? I’ve been here since August of 1966, although I did get one year off for good behavior. So actually, it’s been about 50 years now.

Could you tell me about your area of study? My dissertation covered foreign-born immigrants in Denver up until 1900 – groups like the Irish, Italians and English. It was interesting to me, and there wasn’t a lot of research on it, so it was a good thing to do.

What were some of your findings? There are so many! Foreign-born immigrants assimilated in most cases, but not totally, often fighting amongst themselves – and each other. Eventually, it works out – the American political system has a great deal of resiliency.



It seems like we can glean contemporary lessons from the past – could you tell me some? I think that we are able to accommodate large numbers of people that some might consider the “other” but pretty rapidly become the “us.” We were absorbing millions of people at one point, many of whom were not English speakers. We should congratulate ourselves on that, and not get overly uptight about current immigration, because frankly, it’s added greatly to our country.

What are some interesting facts about Denver? Oh, Denver is so rich – and it becomes more so every day! Even I haven’t done everything I want to do, like visit the Federal Reserve branch and their museum of money. Just look at the sidewalk and all the concrete stamps of people who’ve laid them. Tom Noel (professor of history at CU Denver) and I have recently written

“The Short History of Denver” to unearth both some of these little-known – and better-known – facts. It’s 191 pages that will give you a lot of information. We’ve had con men and scoundrels and others of various ilk; we’ve had saints – Mother Cabrini was an Italian nun who spent time helping people in Colorado.

What are some of the things people might not know about your research? The first thing you need to know is that you don’t know – and once you know that, you can begin to find out. That’s what I would urge people to do; don’t just assume you know something.

PURCHASE LEONARD’S BOOK AT: VISIT: to listen to an extended conversation on historical resistance to white supremacy in Denver, Colorado’s boom-and-bust economic past and transformative individuals such as Emily Griffith.

8 1 0 2 G N I 8 1 M 0 O 2 C , E 4 2 M HO b. 19



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