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Inside the President’s Cabinet

Members consider policies on pets and political activity and receive updates on transfer process and workplace-culture efforts.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 14, 2019

Nov. 13 meeting of the President's Cabinet.President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., opened the meeting of the President’s Cabinet on Wednesday with an update on important campus visits. On Tuesday, members of the state Capital Development Committee visited campus to review building-maintenance needs. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold stood with Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Michael Benitez, Ph.D., and undocumented students at a DACA rally; and Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference at the Community College of Denver to discuss a new Roadmap to Containing College Costs and increasing affordability.

Advisory Council presentation

Bill Carnes, D.M., professor, Management, and John Kietzmann, associate director of athletics for marketing and promotions/external relations, presented progress from the President’s Advisory Council on Culture and Workplace, which aims to make MSU Denver a destination of choice for employees. The group is working to close communication gaps and to support, elevate and build collaboration mechanisms around employee engagement, recognition, development and onboarding efforts at all levels. Stay tuned to the Early Bird for more details on the group’s progress and next steps. And save the date for the group’s Dec. 3 meeting in Tivoli 320 at 3:30 p.m.

Policy updates

Cabinet members considered several Board of Trustees-level policies, voting to approve and advance the University Staff Government policy authorizing the Staff Senate to serve as the Universitywide representative body for matters of concern to exempt professionals, classified staff and student employees.

Next, members reviewed the Political Activity and Lobbying Policy, which provides guidance to employees who engage in political activity or lobbying.

Recognizing a need to reinforce free speech and respectful dialogue, Davidson noted that the policy helps distinguish between political activities that are legal and those that are wise within a professional environment. Vice President for Student Affairs Will Simpkins, Ed.D., commented that the institution’s responsibility is to help all Roadrunners to understand and process political ideas and issues, while Cathy Lucas, vice president for Strategy, noted efforts to offer fair and balanced perspectives, as evidenced by upcoming fireside chats that will bring U.S. Senate candidates to campus.

These policies received the Cabinet’s full support and will advance to the Board of Trustees.

The Animals on University Property policy lays out a three-pronged approach that prohibits pets, allows service animals (per federal Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines) and outlines a process for approving emergency support animals. Nick Stancil, deputy general counsel, noted that the policy highlights MSU Denver’s openness to engaging in a process of review and potential accommodation, with an equitable approval bar that allows for case-by-case reviews.

The Policy Council sought and received broad feedback from stakeholders, consulted the Access Center and referred to policies at other institutions. Arguments against allowing pets and unregistered ESAs included allergies, animal phobias, potential property damage and increased workload for accommodation-request reviews. The primary argument for allowing ESAs is that they can increase higher-education accessibility for students who experience PTSD, anxiety, etc.

Larry Sampler, vice president of Administration and Finance and chief operating officer, raised questions about animals within tri-institutional/AHEC spaces vs. MSU Denver-controlled spaces, noting that the policy should be considered on the campus level as an extension of ADA policy. Davidson requested that Cabinet members consult their counterparts at other institutions. The policy will undergo a second reading at the Cabinet’s next meeting.

Transfer Process Taskforce update

The Transfer Process Taskforce has reviewed more than 200 articulation agreements across the University, validating 168. The group is also working on new policies for creating, housing and reviewing agreements with accredited and nonaccredited Higher Learning Commission-compliant institutions. The ongoing General Studies renovation, efforts to raise transfer-student awareness among faculty, and orientation-process improvements will also advance transfer-related goals.

“This is a huge priority for us,” Davidson said, thanking task-force lead Liz Hinde, dean of the School of Education, and task-force members. “Over 50% of our students are transfer students. This is our mission, and we have to get it right. All hands on deck!”

General updates

  • The Housing Task Force is back at work reviewing and organizing data compiled by the previous iteration of the group. Simpkins invites participation and ideas.
  • The Strategic Plan 2025 Goals Conference will take place Feb. 14, and Roadrunners are invited to attend open interviews for two remaining associate vice president for marketing and brand candidates.
  • Please attend the Faculty and Staff Holiday Party on Dec. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle.
  • University Advancement’s Socktober campaign engaged 323 donors, raising $14,533 for the Student Emergency Fund.
  • The Faculty Senate will hold a second reading of the Intellectual Property Policy on Nov. 27 and held a first reading of the policy on awarding posthumous degrees to terminally ill students Wednesday.
  • The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies recognized the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s Open Educational Resources Council with a WOW Award for innovation in higher education in service to student success. The council is led by Emily Ragan, Ph.D., professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry.
  • Employees are encouraged to complete mandatory cybersecurity and Title IX online trainings.
  • The Staff Senate created a communications team and invites student employees to serve as senators.
  • The coordinated spring 2020 registration campaign is underway. Admissions are up 30%, while applications are down 23%.
  • Fall 2020 applications are down 1%; however, admissions are up 244%. Thanks to Information Technology Services and Admissions’ new automatic admissions process, 3,628 students have been admitted.
  • Women’s volleyball will host quarterfinals Tuesday, and the men’s basketball home opener is Wednesday.
  • Supervisors are encouraged to participate in compensation-structure trainings.
  • Please reference the Early Bird for news on the Banner environment evaluation and participate in upcoming workshops.

Topics: President Davidson, President’s Cabinet

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