The Future of Colorado’s Four-Year Universities

April’s Partnership Meeting was an informative and engaging session with three of the top educational institutions in Colorado. Emceed by Denver South Vice-Chairman Buz Koelbel, this event had an eye towards forward thinking, real-world examples of collaboration between academia and the business community.

Pamela Toney, President of Colorado State University Global kicked off the meeting explaining that their school is geared towards non-traditional students with the student population and programs that are consistently growing. While the offerings may be more limited than a traditional in-person environment, the focus is on practical, applicable degrees, certifications and industry-relevant content and resources. Industry partners help guide the curriculum leading to a student ready to hit the workforce upon completion. Along with this, CSU Global has launched a new skills-based programs with the intention of providing students the skills that employers need now.  Denver South companies such as Jeppesen, Comcast, and HealthOne have all benefited from the quality education CSU Global Students are receiving.

Next was Dr. Ann Murphy, Dean of Metropolitan State University Denver School of Business. MSU Denver is located on the shared downtown Auraria Campus offering multiple offerings to a diverse population from multiple regional locations. The programs of the business school focus on addressing the region’s workforce needs, for today and tomorrow, launching new programs based on the skills companies are looking for. Working closely with industry associations and business partners, the alignment between what the students learn, and businesses need is a top priority. The school prides itself on its ability to give students hands-on learning with real world projects, internships, and community engagement. Corporations like Charles Schwab, Arrow Electronics, and Centura Health are key in providing students professional development, upskilling opportunities, and building valuable relationships.

The third presentation was given by Dr. Sharon Matusik, Dean of University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. Highlighting the importance of combination of academic excellence and access to the business community. World-class faculty are key to providing students the exposure of real-world, live, problem solving cases, designed to provide experience, interaction and development of the needed skill set of future employers. Working professionals are engaging with the business school’s new programs to meet the demands of their careers and life while advancing their training and education, bringing them to the next level. With approximately 9,000 alumni in the Denver South region, the community network is mutually beneficial to the ongoing workforce needs. Leeds School of Business is currently focusing on three key initiatives: 1. Business + Engineering, working across industry lines 2. End the Gap, aimed at attracting more women in business 3. Career Impact, guiding curricula through insights form business leaders and influencers such as Dish, Plante Moran, Lockheed Martin and others.

Rounding out the program was a Q/A session with the panelists focusing on three main themes:

  1. What the future of education looks like:
    • Greater flexibility: Expanding existing options, online and in workplace
    • Credit of prior learning and workplace experience
    • Apprenticeships
    • Experiences as a compliment to knowledge
    • Community engagement
      • Demand for more facilities to engage broader communities
      • Flexible work arrangements
      • Lifelong learning
  1. COVID brought changes and opportunities for educational institutions, what is anticipated to last beyond the pandemic:
    • Technology has opened up flexibility for students working on their degree and urge scheduling flexibility from the business world to mirror the new opportunities for synchronous learning.
  1. Entrepreneurship is an ongoing focus for the Universities offering multiple opportunities and programs for learning, mentorship and resources.

One thing is clear, the universities are open and eager to hear from the business community and learning the skills needed in the workforce today, whether entry-level, professional development, and beyond. We at Denver South are appreciative of these highly accomplished speakers for opening the conversation on strengthening the intersection of education and industry.

If you missed the meeting, or want to reference something the speakers presented, you can download and watch the full presentation at the following links:

Watch the full meeting here

Download presentation deck here