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Inside the President’s Cabinet

Updates on advisory councils, emergency preparedness and tax reform among top takeaways from Dec. 11 meeting.

By Dan Vaccaro

December 12, 2017

President's Cabinet meeting

Couldn’t make it to the Dec. 11 President’s Cabinet meeting? The Early Bird has you covered. Below are the highlights.

Take a break during break
President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., kicked off the meeting by encouraging all faculty and staff members to actually take a break over the holidays.

“I plan to take some time off to recharge my batteries and I hope you will too,” she said. “It’s really important. People are happier and healthier when they spend time with their families, hiking, skiing or even just sitting on the couch, whatever it takes.”

Advisory council update
Davidson reiterated the objective of her six new advisory councils, emphasizing that they are not decision-making bodies, but rather idea-generating bodies. The president and board will retain the ultimate authority on high-level decisions.

She also stressed that the councils are not meant to replace other identify groups or governance bodies on campus but to complement their work, and to ensure that the groups have an opportunity to work together on the biggest challenges facing the institution.

University leadership recently met with chairs of the advisory councils to make sure everyone was in sync on their tasks and to ensure that the top priority will be to include as many voices in the conversation as possible. Davidson noted that leaders were selected based on her conversations in the University community as well as their expertise, reputation as collaborators and demonstrated ability to get the job done.

The chairs have been tasked with creating a plan of action for each council, including the ways in which they will ensure inclusivity. These plans will be presented at the President’s Cabinet meeting Jan. 15.

In case of emergency
Mark Pokorny, environmental and emergency preparedness manager, presented on the steps the University is taking to ensure it is ready to handle campus emergencies.

The University now has an emergency preparedness committee, which includes Pokorny and other pertinent members from across campus: Braelin Pantel, dean of students and associate vice president for Student Engagement and Wellness; Brian Bagwell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Human Services; Jennifer Bradford, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Nick Pistentis, the director of client services for Information Technology Services; and Tiffany Bathrick, benefits coordinator for Human Resources.

Pokorny shared an active shooter training video that detailed best responses to this type of crisis and encouraged all departments to have an updated emergency plan that includes a designated meeting point and staff contact list.

Departments can contact Pokorny to set up training with the Auraria Campus Police Department or for more information on seminars put on by the Auraria Higher Education Center. You can reach him at 303-556-5040 or

How tax reform could impact the University
Steve Kreidler, vice president for administration, shared details on how tax reform proposals in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate could impact the University. He cautioned that we still don’t know the exact legislative outcome as both versions of the bill are still in conference committee.

Kreidler said the House version of tax reform is far more “onerous” for higher education than that of the Senate. “There are several provisions that will make college more expensive for students,” he said. As an example, he noted that the House version would tax free tuition benefits employers provide for education.

Davidson and the Board of Trustees have already sent letters to legislators advocating against these provisions on behalf of students and employees. To receive weekly legislative updates and advocate on behalf of the University, join the MSU Denver Champions program.

And everything else

  • If you missed it, the Board of Trustees met last week. Highlights included a look at the Colorado Department of Higher Education master plan, changes to board leadership, an unprecedented audit and the next steps on some new majors.
  • Marketing and Communications has hired Steve Krizman, associate professor of public relations, as interim associate vice president for marketing/communications. Krizman will work in a part-time capacity, while also continuing to teach. One of his first tasks will be to organize a listening tour with departments to better understand their customer service needs.
  • The Joint Budget Committee is scheduled to meet Jan. 4 and Davidson is honing her message to advocate on behalf of MSU Denver students.
  • MSU Denver’s credit rating moved up a notch this year. The University had an A rating with a negative outlook for the last two years because of decreased enrollment. But that was changed to an A rating with a stable outlook, thanks in large part to positive enrollment numbers.
  • There was a reorganization in the Academic and Student Success area. Stay tuned to the Early Bird for more details later this week.

For those who can’t attend cabinet meetings, you can always listen online. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 15 from 9-10:30 a.m. in SSB 400. All members of the campus community are welcome.

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