Building renamed for president devoted to student success
Farewell party culminates in surprise announcement honoring outgoing president Stephen M. Jordan and his wife Ruthie.
By Dan Vaccaro
For the last 12 years, the Jordan name has been synonymous with student success at Metropolitan State University of Denver. On Saturday June 10, the University ensured it always would be, renaming its flagship facility the Jordan Student Success Building, in honor of outgoing president Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D., and his wife Ruthie.
The surprise announcement was made as part of the final toast at the Summer Soirée, an annual fundraising gala put on by MSU Denver. This year’s event celebrated the Jordans’ legacy in the Denver community.
“This is a fitting tribute to a leader who has dedicated so much of his life to ensuring that students have a better future,” said Michelle Lucero, chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees. “From this day forward, when people talk about this building, and when students make good use of it, the name Jordan will always be paired with the words ‘student success,’ and that’s as it should be.”
The announcement comes on the eve of Jordan’s June 30 retirement, but has been in the works since he stated his intention to step down last September. The name will be added to the structure one year from now, per state regulations.
More than 450 people attended the 2017 Soiree. Guests were treated to food, live music and a video highlighting Jordan’s extraordinary work.
The $300,000 raised at the event is earmarked for the Steve and Ruth Jordan Endowed Scholarship for Leadership, which was established to support students who might not otherwise have access to higher education. In the 2017-18 school year, money from the scholarship will provide six students with $2000 each.
Among notable guests in attendance were featured speakers Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, along with Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Brough; Denver Foundation President and CEO Christine Márquez-Hudson and her husband Andrew Hudson, CEO and founder of Andrew Hudson's Job List; Daniels Fund President and CEO Linda Childears; Latin American Educational Foundation Executive Director Jim Chavez; Stapleton Foundation CEO Landri Taylor; former Denver Nugget, Altitude Sports analyst and Gold Crown Foundation CEO Bill Hanzlik; Chairman and CEO of the IMA Financial Group and former MSU Denver Board Chair Rob Cohen; Colorado gubernatorial candidate Noel Ginsberg as well as Colorado State Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Adrienne Benavidez.
Hancock summed up Jordan’s legacy this way: “In the past students would whisper that they went to Metro State. Students today proudly proclaim that they attend MSU Denver.”
Nearly 34,000 students graduated during Jordan’s 12-year tenure, roughly 38 percent of the 88,000 alumni who have earned degrees in the institution’s 51-year history. During his presidency, the University’s first-time freshman retention rate – the number of students who came back for a second year – grew from 56 percent to 72 percent. The student population also began to better reflect the Colorado community with 39.5 percent students of color.
Other noteworthy achievements during Jordan’s time at the helm included progressing from a college to a university and adding master’s degrees. His focus on public-private partnerships brought the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building to campus, changing the architectural landscape of Auraria Parkway. He also championed a special tuition rate for undocumented students, which is credited with heralding the ultimate passage of the ASSET bill.
In his final remarks, Jordan noted that anything he achieved was done with the support of others.
“To all of you who have been a part of the change at this university, to step up over time and believe that a place that was created by a couple of legislators … as a place for scrappy kids, a place that kids who might otherwise not have a chance to go and experience higher education, would have a chance … Thank you for joining us in believing that this kind of institution … can be as great as any institution in the country, can be preeminent, and change the fundamental ability of a community to be transformed. All of you stepped up and helped us to achieve that dream. And we could not have done that without you.”