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The Jordan legacy: From the ground up

President Jordan’s leadership dramatically expanded MSU Denver’s facilities.

By Nathan Solheim

May 3, 2017

President Stephen Jordan (center) helps break ground on MSU Denver
President Stephen Jordan (center) helps break ground on MSU Denver's new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building with members of Colorado's aerospace industry.

For President Stephen Jordan, the path to preeminence is lined with new construction. 

In an age when funding for secondary education is drying up across the nation, MSU Denver expanded its facilities – and Jordan’s use of public-private partnerships to develop new learning spaces, improve educational experiences, bolster retention and prepare students for careers has been the driving force behind the University’s most innovative infrastructure projects.

The proof is in the numbers. Since Jordan took over in 2005, MSU Denver has added $185 million worth of projects resulting in 480,000 square feet of space, according to Auraria Higher Education Center.

Much of that space comprises four highly visible additions – the Hospitality Learning Center (HLC), the Student Success Building (SSB), the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences (AES) Building and the Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver.

“In the scheme of things in the state, you can run that entire time span and have only one project,” says Barb Weiske, who, as chief executive officer of AHEC, is a key collaborator on MSU Denver’s building projects. “But with those four, that’s really an extraordinary achievement.”

While each project brought unique challenges, they delivered key advantages to students and the community. For instance, Jordan embraced public-private partnerships to help fund the cost of the HLC, the AES Building and the athletic complex. Add the SSB to the mix and each project provides distinctive spaces for classroom learning and preparing students for a career. Not surprisingly, student retention has improved, due in part because of these projects.

A ballfield at the Regency Athletic Park at MSU Denver.
A ballfield at the Regency Athletic Park at MSU Denver.

“I’ve worked for three highly visionary presidents – ‘get it done’ kinds of presidents,” says Steve Kreidler, MSU Denver’s vice president of administration, finance and facilities. “Of the three, Dr. Jordan absolutely has the biggest vision of how we partner with others to make things happen. I also think Dr. Jordan is not limited by current resources. If we don’t have the resources to do something, he’s committed to going out and getting them.”

But Jordan’s impact on campus goes even further. He played a critical role in the development of several other notable projects and worked with AHEC and other campus leadership to develop the Science Building, remodel the Auraria Library and improve the Tivoli Student Union – inside and out.

Jordan hasn’t been contained by campus boundaries, either. With the Center for Visual Art project, art students gained a curation and exhibit space, while MSU Denver obtained a presence in one of the most prestigious urban arts areas in the country – the Santa Fe Arts District. The athletic complex added much-needed practice and competition spaces for MSU Denver student-athletes, but it also serves as an athletic and fitness amenity for the La Alma, Lincoln Park, Sun Valley and Val Verde neighborhoods in Denver.

On a larger scale, Jordan contributed to AHEC’s 2007 and 2012 master plans, which defined the neighborhood concept that radically transformed today’s Auraria campus.

Add it all up and Jordan’s contributions to the University’s physical space fundamentally changed the way Denverites and Coloradans view MSU Denver.

“To the outside world, it shows that MSU Denver is really doing things,” Kreidler says. “They see the cranes and the signage and they think MSU Denver is high quality, and that it’s on the move. They see that MSU Denver is making things happen.”

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