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Michelle Marks named as CU Denver’s next chancellor

Photo courtesy of CU Denver News
Finalists Keith Whitfield and Michelle Marks were selected to be the next chancellor of CU Denver

A look at the two chancellor finalists 

The past few months at CU Denver have been filled with uncertainty and confusion. Ever since the current university chancellor, Dorothy Horrell, announced her retirement last September, students and staff alike have been wondering what the next step will be. In the midst of election season, the community has seen campaigning for student government leaders, student advisory board, and chancellors as well. Recently, CU Denver announces the finalist for the chancellor position. The finalists are Michelle Marks, Vice President for Academic Innovation and New Ventures at George Mason University, and Keith Whitfield, provost at Wayne State University. Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, the two finalists agreed to conduct virtual meetings with campus staff, students, and leaders.

Keith Whitfield’s virtual forum discusses several important factors of student success and his plans for CU Denver. He discusses re-engagement with students who dropped out due to student debt, as well as using online learning as well as other tools to help educate students during COVID-19 and students who commute. He claims that during his time at Wayne State, he was dedicated to student’s mental health. They had events with mindfulness, meditation, and stress relief as well as making different services such as peer advisors and counselors, as well as financial management help. He emphasizes that students need to learn to manage their debt and wants to make resources for financial education and mental health more available to students.

The other candidate, Michelle Marks, discussed her leadership style, which is deeply rooted in ethics and experience, and her experience with study abroad and working with grad students. She values personal experience and hands-on learning alongside textbook and classroom learning. She emphasizes focus on students who already go to CU Denver, and increasing student retainment rather than focusing solely on recruiting new students. At GMU, she hired more advisors and coaches to help students on a more individual level, aligning with her goal of retainment. She also discussed the fact that low-income students are less likely to complete college than high-income students, and she plans to make changes to bridge that gap. She also wants to work on diversifying the CU Denver staff, claiming that this would make learning and participating easier and more comfortable for students in minority groups. Her discussion also touched on university symbols such as statues, experiential learning, and faculty pay.

Overall, both candidates bring impressive skills to offer the CU Denver community, and both spoke professionally and eloquently on their plans during the online forums. President Mark Kennedy officially decided to name Michelle Marks the new chancellor of CU Denver. Marks will sign a contract of consideration on April second, and will begin her role as chancellor over the summer of 2020. With her emphasis on student retainment, mental health, and diversity, it will be interesting to see how her policies affect the CU Denver community.  . This is a step into the future of the university and it will be sure to impact all students, faculty, and staff.

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