By Daniel J Vaccaro
When Janine Davidson, Ph.D., is installed as Metropolitan State University of Denver’s president Sept. 7, she’ll be breaking new ground.
“We’ve never had an Inauguration in school history,” Davidson says. “We thought it was a good time to shine a light on our past and to look forward to the future together.”
Davidson is no stranger to trailblazing. As a pilot in the Air Force, she was the first woman to fly a C-130 plane.
But when it came to the weeklong series of Inauguration events, the former undersecretary of the Navy preferred to fly under the radar.
“I didn’t want this to be all about me,” Davidson says. “Let’s use this as an opportunity to discuss some of the hot topics in higher education right now.”
Among those topics are workforce development, cybersecurity and the future of higher education. Panel discussions planned around each theme will showcase local, regional and national experts.
The Future of Higher Education breakfast panel Sept. 5 will feature Rebecca Chopp, Ph.D., chancellor of the University of Denver; Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University; Joe Garcia, president of the Colorado Community College System; and Dorothy A. Horrell, Ph.D., chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver, in addition to Davidson.
Moderator Dan Baer, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, will lead the discussion on the national narrative around higher education, what schools are doing to provide relevant academic programs and how universities will look different in 10 years.
The week culminates Sept. 7 with an Investiture ceremony, where Davidson will be officially installed as president. In her keynote, she is expected to discuss the devaluation of higher education in the country today and how MSU Denver can be a model for relevant, forward-thinking and community-minded education.
The Investiture will also feature remarks from Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; Gen. Darren McDew, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base; and Stephen M. Jordan, president emeritus of MSU Denver, among others.
The ceremony will be open to the public and livestreamed.
The Inauguration comes more than a year after Davidson’s July 2017 start date, a nontraditional but not unprecedented move in academia. In line with her commitment to inclusive leadership, Davidson wanted to be immersed in the community first and have the focus of any ceremony be squarely on the University.
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