You can call it a timeline. We see it as a living history. From new buildings and initiatives, to celebrated visitors and groundbreaking achievements, these milestones chart the University’s path to preeminence.

Throughout its history, the University has gone by several different names. For this timeline, however, we elected to refer to the institution by its current name: Metropolitan State University of Denver or MSU Denver.


Headshot of Harlan Bryant

May 1966

Harlan Bryant, Ph.D., presides over the creation of MSU Denver as acting president.

Bryant, who was president of Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, at the time, had helped prepare the proposal for the creation of MSU Denver known as the “Green Report.” He was about to leave on a camping trip when he got the call inviting him to oversee the creation of a new college. Each week during his four-month tenure, Bryant worked up to 14 hours a day preparing for the launch.

June 13, 1965

Tom Cook is the first teacher at MSU Denver

Cook was working in broadcast media when he became a charter member of the faculty. He established the first broadcasting curriculum in Colorado, received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1983 and earned the Distinguished Service Award in 1988. He died in September 2002.

Headshot of Tom Cook
1960s students applying to MSU Denver

October 4, 1965

MSU Denver opens, beginning the transformation of higher education in Colorado

By midnight on Oct. 1, 1965, 1,189 students had enrolled at MSU Denver, then known as Metropolitan State College, nearly double the number expected. Thirty-six faculty and staff members were ready when classes began on Oct. 4.


Kenneth Phillips, Ph.D., is named first president of MSU Denver

During his six-year tenure, Phillips made it his mission to talk with anyone who would listen about the new college, and enrollment increased to more than 7,200. He also began the conversation about finding a campus for MSU Denver, as it was quickly outgrowing the downtown buildings that had served as its first home. Phillips passed away in 2013.

Headshot of Kenneth Phillips

January 15, 1966

MSU Denver’s four-year status is established

The board of trustees of State Colleges in Colorado approved the addition of a junior class in the 1967-68 academic year and allowed for full four-year status to begin in 1968.

Kingston Trio performing at Metropolitan State College Event Poster

November 18, 1966

Kingston Trio performs at MSU Denver

One of the most popular folk-pop groups of the era performed for students, staff and faculty at MSU Denver’s first college center.

January 1967

The first official student center opens in a former paint store

MSU Denver was originally housed in multiple spaces in the heart of downtown Denver. Along with the student center on Bannock Street, there was the Forum Building, which was originally designed for legal offices; the Cherokee Building, which was a former floral warehouse; and the YMCA, where physical education classes were held. The White Mule, a bar on Colfax Avenue and Elati Street, was the unofficial student union.

Metropolitan State College College Center 1967
Judi Jones

December 17, 1967

A queen is crowned at MSU Denver’s first formal dance

Judi Jones was named queen of the Winter Festival, MSU Denver’s first official dance celebrated in the school’s third winter.


MSU Denver publishes its first yearbook, titled “Columbine”

Front cover of Columbine yearbook


President Phillips hires 50 new teachers for the upcoming year

Students lining up to register for classes 1968
Group standing at the Auraria Higher Education Center site


Colorado legislature approves $1.9 million for construction of the Auraria Higher Education Center

MSU Denver, University of Colorado Denver and Community College of Denver were all in desperate need of larger, permanent homes. The AHEC concept of shared campus resources, including classroom space, a library and some student services, was a pragmatic and innovative way to meet the needs of all three institutions.


The American Council on Education names MSU Denver among the top 16 emerging colleges

ACE selected from more than a thousand schools to generate its list, meaning that MSU Denver ranked in the top 2 percent of colleges and universities nationwide that were founded in the previous 20 years.


The Glenarm Building opens for student use, located at 1222 Glenarm Place

Glenarm Building
Governor John Love


Governor John Love donates many books from his private collection to MSU Denver’s first library


MSU Denver students publish “The Paper”, the University’s first newspaper

The Paper student newspaper 1968

AA Building housing Campus Security 1969


Campus security is formally established and announced

The first official school security force consisted of off-duty police that would patrol various campus buildings between 5:30 and 11:30 p.m., seven nights a week. The operation was headquartered on the first floor of the AA Building.

June 1, 1969

MSU Denver confers its first bachelor’s degrees

On June 1st, in Phipps Auditorium, MSU Denver awarded its first 60 baccalaureate degrees: 24 bachelor of science degrees in fields such as biology, criminal justice and criminology, and business management as well as 36 bachelor of art degrees in fields ranging from English and history to elementary education and psychology.

Line of graduating students first graduation
Bust of Martin Luther King Jr


An art student’s sculpture of MLK is chosen for display at the Denver Art Museum

Ron Kessinger, an MSU Denver student, created a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. that was selected to be shown at the Denver Art Museum. From there, it was purchased and put on display by Manual High School.


Headshot of W. Peter Romfh with his award-winning photograph


Student wins photojournalism award

W. Peter Romfh won first place at an annual Colorado Press Association convention for a shot he took prior to leaving his editorial position in the local media to pursue a speech degree at MSU Denver.

February 1970

Young Democrats have their first meeting

At their first official gathering, the MSU Denver Young Democrats met with the organization’s state vice president, who explained that the platform of the group was to support the ideals of Eugene McCarthy and John F. Kennedy. English department member Robert J. Pugel was the faculty sponsor of the college chapter.

Headshot of Reuben Aguirre


The Department of Chicano Studies is founded

Only one year after it began with just 60 students at first-enrollment, the program formerly known as Hispano studies transformed into the Chicano Studies Department, with more than 200 students participating. Reuben Aguirre, who proudly displayed a United Farm Workers flag on his office wall, a gift from Cesar Chavez, chaired the department.


The MSU Denver Alumni Association is founded

As of Spring 2021, MSU Denver had 96,000 alumni.

Gwendolyn Thomas


English professor helps establish prep school with multicultural focus

Professor Emeritus of English Gwendolyn Thomas was among the first teachers hired by MSU Denver. She left the University for a time to direct the Intercultural School of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado, which enrolled Indian, Latino, African-American and white students for a program that emphasized appreciation of diversity.

Photograph of Gwen Thomas from the ACLU Colorado website.


James D. Palmer, Ph.D., is named president

Among Palmer’s greatest achievements during his six years as president was his management of MSU Denver’s move to the Auraria Campus in 1977. He also had to deal with substantial cuts to the school’s faculty and fought the proposal to make MSU Denver part of the CU system.

Headshot James D. Palmer
Roland Husson

February 23, 1972

Cultural attaché to the French ambassador visits campus

M. Roland Maurice Husson spoke to students, staff and faculty at the Forum Building about the organization and importance of the press in France.

Photo of Roland Husson from

March 1973

The Academic Advising Center is established

The center was established to assist first-year students with undeclared majors or other students who were not yet seeking specific degrees. The first director to be tapped for oversight of Academic Advising was Bernie Valdez, assistant dean of Student Services.

Children playing on playground structure


A grant allows for expansion of child care services

The capacity of MSU Denver’s first child care center topped off at 42, until a Model Cities Grant provided for a second location to accommodate up to 20 more kids.


Mascot changed from mustang to roadrunner

When MSU Denver was founded, the mustang was chosen as its mascot. However, since the students had to run between numerous buildings scattered across downtown Denver to get to their classes, they took a vote and decided the roadrunner would be a more appropriate and meaningful mascot.

Over the ensuing decades, the roadrunner, later named Rowdy, went through a number of makeovers until its most recent incarnation in 2010.

Rowdy doing a handstand


MSU Denver joins the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries

CARL was established to help academic institutions share resources and reduce costs by working together.


TRIO High School Upward Bound begins to help low-income and first-generation students

This federally funded college preparatory program was designed to help urban high school students enter and succeed in postsecondary education. MSU Denver would become renowned for its commitment to the success of students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

TRiO Program Logo


MSU Denver’s first school song, “MSU on the Move with Colorado” debuts

Traffic on Lawrence street


MSU Denver relinquishes two-year programs to CCD as part of Auraria shared-campus arrangements


MSU Denver changes from a quarter to semester system

Aerial Denver 1970s
Metro South Campus


MSU Denver expands its reach to the south

In 1976, MSU Denver opened a South Campus in Greenwood Village, Colorado. As part of the Extended Campus Program, the site was intended to serve adult learners who lived and worked in the greater Denver metropolitan area. Today, the campus continues to serve these same “scrappy” students, specializing in degree completion and programs for nontraditional students. In August 2015, MSU Denver celebrated a grand re-opening of the campus to highlight renovations and showcase its continued success.


MSU Denver moves to the game-changing Auraria Higher Education Center

After 12 years of leasing classroom space in multiple downtown buildings, MSU Denver began its first semester on the 169-acre Auraria Campus, sharing academic space with the University of Colorado at Denver and the Community College of Denver.

Campus sunrise Auraria Higher Education Center
Student dodging traffic on the Auraria Campus


Hundreds of students rally at 10th & LAwrence streets, demanding a traffic light be installed

This major intersection became a focal point for protests to address the danger faced by student pedestrians attempting to cross the street to reach classes on time.

March 31, 1978

NOVA performs for MSU Denver students

This popular Italian jazz fusion/progressive rock band in the vein of groups such as Weather Report performed a free Friday-night concert, courtesy of Student Activities.

Headline for the Metropolitan Newspaper

March 21, 1979

The Metropolitan school newspaper debuts



Nursing program receives grant

A federal grant was provided to the Department of Nursing and Health Care Management to help expand the skills and roles of registered nurses. Ten RNs were offered a one-year program that focused on general health maintenance and management of acute and chronic illness.

Headshot of Rachel B Noel


MSU Denver honors civil rights pioneer Rachel B. Noel with distinguished professorship

Noel, the first African American elected to the Denver Public School Board and the first African American woman to serve in an elected office in Colorado, chaired the then-college’s African American Studies Department from 1971-80. Upon her retirement, the University created the Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship to honor her legacy.


62 students enroll in MSU Denver’s first tele-courses, combining classes with television segments

TV control person combining classes with Television segments


MSU Denver is recognized at the National Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference

The school placed in the top five for the national team flight championship, and students Keoki Gray and Mark Brown both were in the top five for the individual aircraft recognition event.

President Richard Fontera


Richard Fontera, Ph.D., is named president

Fontera brought a new vision and energy to MSU Denver and got the ball rolling to bring back men’s basketball after it had been disbanded in 1978.

March 4, 1983

James Edward Olmos speaks at a tri-institutional event

The famous actor and activist spoke on the issue of gang violence at the St. Francis Interfaith Center. This tri-institutional event was sponsored in part by MSU Denver’s Chicano Studies Program.

James Edward Olmos giving speech at tri-institutional event
Men's basketball athlete dunking a basketball


Men’s basketball returns to MSU Denver after its disbandment in 1978.

May 4, 1984

Carlos Fuentes visits campus

The world-renowned author gave a lecture titled “Permanencia: The Character of Mexican Culture” and received a standing ovation from those gathered, including Denver Mayor Federico Peña.

Carlos Fuentes
Richard Fontera before his death from cancer


MSU Denver is dealt a devastating blow when President Fontera dies of cancer


Paul Megelli, Ph.D., is named president

Magelli’s extensive business connections brought greater visibility to MSU Denver. He also revived the school’s Foundation.

President Paul J. Magelli
Hand-drawn poster of the Cellar Bar and Auraria Campus


Cellar 3.2 Bar, a student hangout in the 9th Street Mercantile Building, closes after two years


MSU Denver becomes the first college in Colorado to register students by phone

In an effort to make things more convenient for students, MSU Denver became one of the first universities in the nation to offer registration by phone. Longtime staff member and innovator Tom Gray pioneered the initiative.

Line of students waiting to register

February 28, 1986

Angela Davis commemorates Black History Month

August 7, 1986

Daniel Ortega speaks to campus community

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega spoke at MSU Denver about plans for peace in Central America.

Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, giving a speech
Louis Kilzer


Journalism professor wins Pulitzer Prize

Louis Kizer, who was also a reporter for The Denver Post, won the Pulitzer’s Gold Medal for Public Service for his article on missing children.


Metropolitan Magazine, a publication for alumni and friends of MSU Denver, debuts

In the ensuing years, the alumni publication went through several redesigns and name changes. It become Metropolis in 1988, Metro Magazine in 2005, and Metropolitan Denver Magazine in 2013. The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education awarded the magazine its national gold medal for magazine improvement in 2014.

Metropolitan Magazine Logo

Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy 2018


The Institute for Women’s Studies and Services opens

This institute would later be renamed to The Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy and moved from its Ninth Street Park location to the Boulder Creek Building in early October of 2018.


Marvin Hamlisch, composter of “The Fire of MSC” school song, receives honorary degree

Marvin Hamlisch conducting orchestra

February 1987

Accreditation evaluators pass MSU Denver with flying colors

Halfway between the 1975 and 1997 comprehensive evaluations by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a nine-member team of national higher education professionals conducted a review of MSU Denver that resulted in a recommendation for continued accreditation “without conditions.”

September 1988

The Meir home relocates to Auraria Campus and becomes MSU Denver’s Golda Meir Center

The duplex at 1606 and 1608 Julian Street houses both the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, operated by the Political Science Department, and the Golda Meir House Museum.


800 alumni and friends raise $40,000 at the first Plain and Fancy Ball

The legendary annual event transformed into an anniversary-themed celebration in 2005 and 2010. The 45th anniversary ball raised $100,000 for scholarships. Over the years, local leaders such as U.S. Rep. Patricia Schroeder and MillerCoors CEO Leo Kiely were chosen as Plain and Fancy Persons of the Year for their support of MSU Denver.

Plain and Fancy Ball - group of students in formal attire
President Thomas B. Brewer


Thomas B. Brewer, Ph.D., is named president

During his five years as president, Brewer fought off the resurgence of a proposed merger with the University of Colorado Denver and also spearheaded adding “of Denver” to the school’s name.

February 1989

Actor Raymond Burr and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer visit campus

Westheimer and Burr were on campus to help dedicate the new location of the Golda Meir House.

Actor Raymond Burr and Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Greg Pearson


The Society of Professional Journalists posthumously names Journalism Chair Greg Pearson 1988 Journalism Educator of the Year.


MSU Denver debuts Colorado’s first college-produced, broadcast-quality television program

TV studio set


Center for Visual Arts on Wazee Street


A different kind of gallery: MSU Denver’s Center for Visual Art opens in LoDo

A four-year dream to operate an art gallery is realized with the opening of the MSU Denver Center for Visual Art (CVA) at 1701 Wazee Street in lower downtown Denver.

January 1990

Sports Illustrated recognizes a Roadrunner

MSU Denver senior basketball player Gene Edwards was named Small College Player of the Year in the Sports Illustrated magazine.


The words “of Denver” are added to the school’s name

A perceived lack of name recognition, attributed to a generic-sounding name; sharing a campus with two other colleges; and the existence of a Metropolitan State University in Minnesota led President Tom Brewer to obtain legislative authority to change the school’s name to Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Metropolitan State College of Denver old logo
Forum Building


MSU Denver’s first home is demolished

The Forum Building, which had been the birthplace and center of administration for MSU Denver in 1965, was torn down. The school had long since moved to the Auraria Campus.


MSU Denver becomes the largest school of its kind in the nation, having reached 25 years as a formal institution

Letter announcing

Maya Angelou giving speech

September 17, 1993

Maya Angelou shares an evening of poetry and stories

Writer and activist Maya Angelou spoke to an audience of 2,000 at the Auditorium Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The event was co-sponsored by MSU Denver’s Black Student Alliance and the Metro Activities Council. Angelou would visit with the MSU Denver community again when she spoke on campus in 2005.


MSU Denver holds its first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Awards Breakfast

Now in its 23rd year, the event continues to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and has honored an amazing range of students, faculty and alumni as well as community leaders for their social justice work.

Martin Luther King Jr superimposed in front of a mountain
Tivoli Brewery painted white


Historic Tivoli Brewery opens as a student union

After a student vote to purchase the old Tivoli Brewery buildings, a two-year renovation culminated in the Tivoli Student Union, which was ultimately voted No. 9 on the 2013 Best College Reviews list of the top 25 student unions in the country.


Sheila Kaplan, Ph.D., becomes president

Under Kaplan, MSU Denver achieved independence in 2002, breaking from the State Colleges in Colorado to form its own governing board. During Kaplan’s 10-year tenure, the school broke the 20,000-student enrollment mark and led all four-year institutions in minority enrollment. Kaplan continues to impact the University as a professor of history.

MSU Denver President Dr. Sheila Kaplan
RTD Station at Colfax Avenue


The RTD light rail station at Colfax Avenue opens on the south side of the Auraria campus

February 1994

MSU Denver welcomes jazz legend Billy Taylor

Jazz pianist and educator Billy Taylor was MSU Denver’s first Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professor. Noel was a professor at MSU Denver, where she founded and chaired the African-American Studies Department from 1971 to 1980.

Billy Taylor


World Indoor Airport transforms aviation education

Two FAA airway science grants totaling $1.2 million helped fund the World Indoor Airport (WIA), a top-notch aerospace simulation laboratory for  training pilots and ground professionals. The facility bolstered MSU Denver’s growing Aviation and Aerospace Science Department.


Soccer player Rosie Durbin wins Colorado NCAA Woman of the Year award

Durbin ended her four-year career at MSU Denver as the second-leading scorer in school history with 94 points. Her other awards included First Team All-American, First Team Academic All-American, Colorado Sports Woman of the Year for Soccer and Colorado Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Rosie Durban playing soccer
Student smiling in front of 1990s computer


MSU Denver goes online with its first homepage at


Roadrunner takes national swimming championship

Darwin Strickland brought home MSU Denver’s first-ever national championship in any sport, winning the NCAA Division II 50- and 100-meter freestyle races. He took the 50-meter freestyle championship again in 1996 and ended his career named First Team All-American four times.

Darwin Strickland


MSU Denver offers its first online course

Twenty-one students enrolled in MSU Denver’s first ever online course: Communications 261 – Introduction to Technical Writing.

Denver Aerial View


Professors’ economic impact study shows MSU Denver is a “powerful economic driver”

The study highlighted a number of substantial benefits MSU Denver’s presence brought to the metropolitan area, including the number of jobs, the amount of goods sold and the expansion of the credit base. It concluded that 72 cents of every dollar invested in the school through the state’s general fund were returned to taxpayers.


Social Work Program receives accreditation

MSU Denver became one of only three colleges in Colorado to be accredited by the national Council on Social Work Education, giving students an opportunity to achieve Caseworker II status, many with a focus on child welfare.


Castro professorship kicks off with Chicana author and activist Cherrie Moraga

The Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professorship was launched in 1997 with the intention of exposing students, faculty and staff to the work of Chicano and Latino artists, activists and leaders.

Richard T. Castro
Lawrence Street Center


Auraria board purchases Lawrence Street Center to provide administrative office space for MSU Denver


DOE awards $1.7 million Title III grant to MSU Denver

One of only 40 colleges nationwide selected for the U.S. Department of Education’s five-year, $20 million Strengthening Institutions project, MSU Denver used the funds for programs to address student retention, student access to technology and faculty development.

February 8, 1999

Actor, director and author Ossie Davis gave a lecture titled “Black Creativity and the Human Experience” at MSU Denver for the 1999 Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship. Davis’ first of many parts in television and film was alongside Sidney Poitier in the 1950 feature “No Way Out.” He also was a prominent figure in the struggle for civil rights. Davis died in 2005.

Ossie Davis
Administration Building


Auraria Administration Building opens on the west side of campus


$1.5 million Office of Migrant Education grant funds College Assistance Migrant Program

The five-year grant provided academic and financial support for students from the families of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. MSU Denver was one of only 12 institutions nationwide and the only college in Colorado to house a CAMP program. The program still exists and continues to be funded by OME grants.

Wynton Marsalis playing the trumpet

March 26, 1999

Renowned musician Wynton Marsalis is honored for his leadership

Marsalis received the second annual Golda Meir Leadership Award from MSU Denver. Following receipt of the award, he treated the audience to an impromptu performance.


February 14, 2000

Recording artist Ashford and Simpson spend Valentine’s day at MSU Denver

Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, multi-gold and platinum selling recording artists, delivered a lecture as part of MSU Denver’s Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship. The singer-songwriters were not only partners in music composition and performance, but had been married for 21 years at the time of their Valentine’s Day appearance on the Auraria Campus.

Men's Basketball team celebrating championship 2000

March 25, 2000

Roadrunners take NCAA Division II men’s basketball title

Colorado celebrated its first-ever national collegiate basketball title when the Roadrunners beat favored Kentucky Wesleyan 97-92 for the NCAA Division II championship. The achievement marked the beginning of MSU Denver Athletics’ transformation into a Division II powerhouse.

October 2000

$38 million Kenneth King Academic and Performing Arts Center opens on campus

The 180,000-square-foot King Center boasts concert and recital halls, a courtyard theatre, classrooms and studios. The first public performance was an MSU Denver faculty recital in the 200-seat recital hall. One month later, the University’s symphony provided the debut performance in the 550-seat concert hall.

King Center


Kaplan/Newsweek recognizes MSU Denver as one of the 33 best values in higher education nationwide

Using quality of education versus tuition cost as the criteria, high school guidance counselors from across the country named MSU Denver as the only best-value institution in Colorado. The University was listed alongside such notable institutions as University of California Berkeley, Rice University and Texas A&M.


MSU Denver leads Colorado in online education

With 144 online courses, MSU Denver became a leader in online education, offering the most course options in the state. General studies requirements, plus core courses for business, accounting and computer information systems, could be completed online. By 2014, more than 8,000 students were taking online courses each year.

Hesburgh Award


MSU Denver receives prestigious national Hesburgh Award

The award recognized faculty development programs deemed exceptional for enhancing undergraduate teaching and student learning. MSU Denver earned the award for its program to develop and retain part-time instructors and more fully utilize them as a resource to support institutional goals such as student retention.


Denver Mayor Wellington Webb proclaims November 2nd as Lalo Delgado Day

Delgado (pictured), a part-time instructor in MSU Denver’s Chicano/a Studies Department, was a noted poet and civil rights activist. An event in his honor was held at the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership. Following Delgado’s death in 2004, the University instituted the annual Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival.

Lalo Delgado
Representative Norbert Chavez signing MSU Denver's independence document

July 1, 2002

MSU Denver gains independence, continues to transform higher education in Colorado

MSU Denver acquired its own governing board on July 1, following the passage of HB02-1165. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nolbert Chavez and Sen. Penfield Tate, separated it from the State Colleges in Colorado board of trustees that governs Mesa State, Adams State and Western State.


MSU Denver ranks 73rd in nation for graduating undergraduate Hispanics

Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education also listed MSU Denver as 58th nationally for Hispanic enrollment. Both rankings were the highest in Colorado.

Homecoming week basketball, cheerleaders, and cheering students

February 2003

MSU Denver celebrates its first homecoming

The homecoming celebration, a tradition centered around a men’s basketball game in February, continues to this day.

March 2003

Auraria students hold anti-war demonstrations that are backed by 17 campus organizations

On March 30, a group of students who opposed the war in Iraq converted a small piece of campus near the flagpole into an urban campground, vowing to stay outside until the end of the war. Up to 20 students from the three Auraria colleges lived at the camp, passing out anti-war literature and talking with supporters and opponents.

December 2003

MSU Denver’s 50,000th degree 

The 50,000th person to earn an MSU Denver degree, 52-year-old Larry Langley, graduates at winter commencement.

Larry Langley, MSU Denver's 50,000th graduate
Students working on old computers while a teacher assists

October 1, 2004

MSU Denver receives a $9.5 million federal grant, the largest in school history

The five-year Teacher Quality Enhancement grant from the U.S. Department of Education was used to develop the Secondary Teacher Enhancement Project, a game-changing partnership with Denver Public Schools.

December 4, 2004

Another first for Colorado: MSU Denver women’s soccer team takes national championship

The Roadrunners scored Colorado’s first-ever collegiate soccer championship when MSU Denver (with a 25-1 record) beat Adelphi University 3-2 to win the NCAA Division II tournament. Highlights from the game were featured on the nationally televised show “CBS Sports Presents Championships of the NCAA.”

Women's Soccer team celebrating their championship 2004
Cheech Marin

February 24, 2005

Cheech Marin entertains and educates the MSU Denver community

Actor, comedian and collector of Chicano art, Richard “Cheech” Marin was MSU Denver’s 2005 Richard T. Castro Distinguished Visiting Professor. He delivered a lecture about the Latino aesthetic titled “Chicano Visions: A Cheech Marin Perspective.” 

April 2005

National Marketing Educators’ Association names Professor Nancy Frontczak Marking Educator of the Year

Nancy Frontczak
President Stephen M. Jordan

June 2005

MSU Denver appoints Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D., president

Jordan’s vision of preeminence for MSU Denver radically transformed the University. Jordan spearheaded the effort to advance from college to university status. He pushed to offer master’s degrees and to pursue Hispanic Serving Institution designation. Three new buildings, owned solely by the University, were constructed during his tenure.


Auraria Campus named No. 1 in state and 13th nationally for purchasing green energy

Auraria Campus overhead shot


A partnership between MSU Denver and Denver Public Schools receives a prestigious literacy grant

The Toyota Family Literacy Program awarded one of five $600,000 scholarships to an MSU Denver/DPS partnership that helps Hispanic and other immigrant families achieve better literacy skills.

Hispanic Serving Institution - Hispanic woman smiling

April 19, 2007

MSU Denver launches goal of achieving federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution

The Toyota Family Literacy Program awarded one of five $600,000 scholarships to an MSU Denver/DPS partnership that helps Hispanic and other immigrant families achieve better literacy skills.


MSU Denver emerges as the leader in educating Coloradans

With nearly 21,000 resident undergraduates, MSU Denver surpassed both Colorado State University (17,443) and University of Colorado Boulder (17,237), according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

October 24 2007

Los Lobos performs to support the University

Three-time Grammy Award-winning artists Los Lobos performed songs from their CD, “The Town and the City” at Paramount Theatre in support of MSU Denver. This was the third annual benefit concert for the University.

Los Lobos musical group
Historic 9th Street Park


MSU Denver spearheads Historic 9th Street Park monument to honor displaced Aurarians

Hundreds of families in Denver’s Westside neighborhood lost their homes when the Auraria Campus was built. The monument on the park’s north end acknowledges their sacrifice. MSU Denver established a scholarship program for the families in 1994. As of 2007, $417,000 in displaced Aurarian scholarships had been awarded.


Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards visit campus

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, campaigned on campus.

Hilary Clinton and John Edwards giving speeches

September 10, 2008

DNC leader joins MSU Denver president and political science profs for post-convention lecture

Mike Dino, CEO of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, joined MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan, Chair and Professor of Political Science Robert Hazan and Political Science Professor Norman Provizer to discuss the impact of the DNC on Denver at an event in Skyline Park. The event was the final lecture in MSU Denver’s Skyline Park Series: “Countdown to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.”


Democratic National Convention speakers
Johl Cohen signed poster

March 11, 2009

MSU Denver welcomes writer of “The Simpsons”

Joel Cohen, writer and co-executive producer of “The Simpsons,” presented “The Business Tao of Homer: Lessons in Creativity and Innovation from The Simpsons,” a tri-institutional seminar held in the Tivoli Turnhalle.

March 13, 2009

Anthony Luna captured the NCAA Division II 800-meter championships in the indoor and outdoor competitions.

October 2009

Chronicle of Higher Education praises MSU Denver’s Right-Sizing with Technology Initiative



MSU Denver enrolls more ethnic minority students than any other Colorado institution

The University’s more than 5,600 students of color make up nearly 25% of the total student population.

Tivoli Athletic Field

May 2010

1,600 graduate in the University’s first outdoor Commencement at Auraria Athletic Fields

June 2010

MSU Denver’s Center for Visual Art moves to Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Center for Visual Art (CVA) moved into 965 Santa Fe Drive, the first building wholly owned by MSU Denver.

Center for Visual Art at Santa Fe
Masters Degrees at MSU Denver are signed into being

July 1, 2010

Addition of affordable, high-quality master’s degrees transforms student opportunities

In July 2010, MSU Denver received final approval and accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission to proceed with three planned master’s degree programs, the University’s first-ever graduate-level offerings. The inaugural programs included Teacher Education, Professional Accountancy and Social Work.

August 2010

State-of-the-art Auraria Science Building opens

This massive construction project renovated the existing 113,000-square-foot building and added 200,000 square feet. The additional space was greatly needed by MSU Denver’s Biology and Chemistry departments, which over the previous five years had experienced immense growth.

Auraria Science Building at night
Pam Grier

March 4, 2011

Actress and former student Pam Grier delivers conference keynote address

A movie icon with longtime ties to the Denver area, Grier returned to the Auraria Campus as keynote speaker of “Our History Is Our Strength: the 15th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference.”

April 4, 2011

University breaks ground on Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

Plans for the estimated $45 million project featured more than 28,000 square feet of academic space, including classrooms and specialty learning labs, combined with the adjacent SpringHill Suites – Denver Downtown® by Marriott, which provided hands-on training for students in the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events.

August 18, 2011

MSU Denver receives $2 million grant from DOE to operate Equity Assistant Center

MSU Denver established one of only 10 Equity Assistance Centers nationwide under the three-year Department of Education grant. The center offered technical assistance and training to public school districts on equity issues with a focus on improving safety by decreasing the incidence of racial and sexual harassment.

Loening Trophy

May 11, 2011

Aviation and Aerospace Science Department wins collegiate aviation’s most prestigious award

MSU Denver’s Precision Flight Team won the Loening Trophy at the May 2011 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON). The only other Colorado school ever to have won the 82-year-old award to that date was the Air Force Academy.

July 11, 2011

Biology professor appears on national DIY show

Biology Assistant Professor Bob Hancock, a medical entomologist who is an authority on blood-sucking insects, appeared on DIY’s “Disaster House.” The episode looked at what can happen when bats and bed bugs invade a house.

October 3, 2011

$1 million gift launches unique urban water education program

A generous gift from an anonymous local donor ― the University’s largest private cash donation to that time ― established the One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship.

One World One Water Center Logo
Metrosphere 2010-2011 Volume 29 Comic Cover

November 14, 2011

Student literary magazine wins top national award

Metrosphere, the University’s student literary magazine, received a Pacemaker Award – Literary Category, a top national honor likened to a Pulitzer Prize for student publications. The award-winning edition, inspired by graphic novels, split the literary content and art into separate, but cohesive books with one spine.

November 17, 2011

Adult Fitness and Exercise Science Program earns accreditation

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredited the Adult Fitness and Exercise Science Program for demonstrating compliance with almost 200 standards set by the American College of Sports Medicine. Out of hundreds of programs in the country, MSU Denver’s was one of a fraction of them to achieve accreditation.

Individuals weightlifting - exercise science
Rowdy Bobblehead

December 4, 2011

Rowdy goes bobble head

The new-look Rowdy, unveiled at MSU Denver’s 45th birthday party, went on sale as a bobble head at the Auraria Campus Bookstore.

December 5, 2011

Accelerated nursing students score a perfect 100

All 36 graduates from the Accelerated Nursing Program Class of 2011 passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. MSU Denver’s pass rate was the only perfect score among all baccalaureate and associate degree nursing programs in Colorado.

December 12, 2011

MSU Denver graduates its first five master’s degree candidates

Fall commencement marked a transformative milestone in MSU Denver’s history — the graduation of its first graduate students in professional accountancy and teacher education.

January 23, 2012

Marriott Foundation donates $1 million to the Hospitality Learning Center

In recognition of the gift, the HLC’s 5,000-square-foot meeting room was named the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Conference Center.

February 4, 2012

Theatre Department becomes the first NAST-accredited institutional member in Colorado

The National Association of Schools of Theatre accredited MSU Denver’s three theatre degree programs: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Applied Theatre.

February 27, 2012

Math association names MSU Denver’s Calculus I Program as one of the best in the country

The Mathematical Association of America listed MSU Denver among 15 colleges and universities it identified as having successful Calculus 1 programs. The association surveyed more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities.

April 9, 2012

Federal grant of $655,249 supports effort to improve academics at five Denver Public Schools

With support from the five-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, the Center for Urban Education launched its 21st Century College Readiness Center with after-school tutoring, enrichment activities and family support programs to improve the academic performance and college readiness of students at five high-need Denver public schools.

Metro State Student Success Building

April 1, 2012

Opening of Student Success Building transforms MSU Denver neighborhood and student outcomes

The Student Success Building (SSB) became the first University-owned building on the Auraria Campus. The 145,000-square-foot structure was constructed on the north end of campus, east of 7th Street along Auraria Parkway, in what is deemed the MSU Denver Neighborhood.

April 18, 2012

Metro State becomes Metropolitan State University of Denver

On April 18, Metro State officially changed its name to Metropolitan State University of Denver, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed SB12-148 in the jam-packed Student Success Building lobby, proclaiming, “It’s a law! You can now officially call yourselves Metropolitan State University of Denver.”

Abbreviated MSU Logo - Color Options - Full Color
One World One Water Sculpture

April 30, 2012

One World, One Water sculpture is dedicated

The 12-foot bronze sculpture was created by Rik Sargent and donated by local philanthropist Valerie Gates. The sculpture illustrates water’s importance through its bas-relief depiction of habitats, animals and industrial water users, and inspired the name of the University’s One World, One Water Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship.

April 30, 2012

Student Success Building gets green roof, Gold LEED rating

A 9,433-square-foot, sedum-covered portion of the newly opened Student Success Building’s rooftop was one of many sustainable features engineered into the building to achieve the Gold LEED rating, which recognizes environmentally conscious design.

June 7, 2012

BOT introduces non-residential tuition rate, paving the way for passage of the ASSET bill

The Board of Trustees voted 7–1 to approve a Colorado High School/GED Nonresident Tuition Rate and received a standing ovation from the more than 200 MSU Denver community members, state legislators and others who had gathered for the June 7 meeting.

Board of Trustees
Laboratory Science

July 1, 2012

MSU Denver adopts laboratory science center

On July 1, 2012, MSU Denver took over operation of the Colorado Center for Medical Laboratory Science. The center, established in 1962, had been sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation since the 1990s. As part of the transfer agreement, the health foundation provided nearly $1 million to cover operational costs and tuition. Today, the center’s work continues to complement MSU Denver’s health care programs and prepares highly-qualified workers for an in-demand field. Part of the University’s Extended Campus Program, the center is based at the Medical Center of Aurora North Campus.

July 1, 2012

University unveils five-year strategic plan

Approved by the Board of Trustees in July, “A Time of Transformation: 2012-17 Strategic Plan” was a comprehensive template for the University’s next five years.

August 6, 2012

Noted street artist donates mural to University’s Center for Visual Art

Street artist Shepard Fairey, whose most prominent work includes the iconic “Hope” poster from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, donated a mural to the CVA. As part of a group show in Denver, he spent time with students, faculty and CVA employees talking about his craft.

Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

August 13, 2012

Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center opens for business, transforms hospitality education

In August 2012, MSU Denver opened its state-of-the-art Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, one of only a few nationwide collegiate hospitality learning laboratories with a fully functioning hotel.

August 13, 2012

Obama visits Auraria Campus for second time in 10 months

President Barack Obama visited the Auraria Campus to speak on women’s health issues. At the earlier visit, he announced his “Pay As You Earn” proposal to ease student loan debt.

October 1, 2012

Hospitality All Stars event introduces the Hospitality Learning Center to state leaders

More than 400 people attended the Hospitality All Stars fundraiser and were treated to a smorgasbord prepared by some of Denver’s top chefs as well as libations served by Gov. John Hickenlooper. In true learning-lab style, faculty and students from the Hotel, Tourism and Events Department staffed the event.

October 22, 2012

Nursing program debuts high-tech manikin

The Nursing Department’s SimMan 3G manikin transformed nursing education into a high-tech endeavor. The manikin could cry, bleed, drool, convulse, wink, have a heart attack, breathe — practically anything a human could do.

December 3, 2012

Soccer player earns national academic award

The College Sports Information Directors of America named MSU Denver men’s soccer player Marc Herschberger Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for NCAA Division II. Herschberger was a double major in management and marketing and held a 3.91 GPA.

President Jordan with artist Christo

January 23, 2013

Christo works make Colorado premiere at Center for Visual Art

Two original works of art by the artist Christo made their Centennial State debut at the Center for Visual Art. The next day, the pieces, which were preparatory works for “Over the River,” Christo’s planned public art installation in south central Colorado, were taken to the state Capitol to be hung in the Governor’s Office.

March 18, 2013

Report says MSU Denver graduates are No. 1 earners in first year out of college

MSU Denver grads who stay in Colorado to work earn more out of the gate than graduates of CU Boulder and CSU, according to the College Measures/Colorado Department of Higher Education report, “Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates from Colorado’s Colleges and Universities Working in Colorado.”

MSU Denver Graduates
Derrick Clark

April 2, 2013

Clark honors as coach of the year

Men’s basketball Head Coach Derrick Clark, who guided the Roadrunners to the national championship game, was named Division II Bulletin National Coach of the Year.

April 14, 2013

University announces $1 million naming-rights agreement for athletic complex

The new name, The Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver, was part of a 10-year agreement with Regency Student Housing. The complex opened with eight tennis courts in August 2013. Now completed, it houses a soccer stadium, baseball and softball fields, a training facility and walking a path that is open to the neighboring community.

April 14, 2013

French professor named 2013 US Baccalaureate Professor of the Year – Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges

Ann Williams received one of four Professor of the Year awards from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Now in its 32nd year, the award is one of the nation’s most prestigious.

Ann Williams
Sonia Sotomayor on a panel

May 2, 2013

Sonia Sotomayor speaks on the Auraria Campus

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor addressed students, faculty and the community at an evening event hosted by MSU Denver at the Auraria Event Center.

May 13, 2013

Engineering professor and students build low-tech device to heat homes

Aluminum cans were the main component of a solar furnace that was built by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Aaron Brown and his students and that was donated to a nonprofit in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood.

Solar Furnace made of aluminum cans
Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

June 3, 2013

HLC wins Downtown Denver Partnership Award

The Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center won one of six 2012 Downtown Denver Partnership Awards. The annual awards recognize businesses, organizations, events and projects that “have made significant contributions toward creating a unique, vibrant and diverse downtown environment and have made a lasting, positive impact on downtown Denver.”

June 6, 2013

University breaks ground on an athletic complex that will transform the surrounding community

Now completed, the 12-acre, $12 million complex includes eight tennis courts and fields for soccer, softball and baseball, with a fitness trail encircling the site. The facilities are shared with the surrounding neighborhoods, creating a safe, welcoming place for athletic activities.

Rowdy in front of MSU Denver Athletic Complex banner
America's 2013 Forbes Top Colleges Badge

July 30, 2013

MSU Denver’s impressive return on investment leads to Forbes “America’s Top Colleges” ranking

September 10, 2013

U.S. News ranks MSU Denver 23rd among Western regional colleges

MSU Denver broke into the U.S News & World Report annual rankings of the nation’s top colleges and universities, ranking 23rd on its list of regional colleges in the West and 5th among the public institutions in that category.

October 2013

MSU Denver becomes a partner in national cybersecurity awareness program

MSU Denver signed on as a partner in STOP.THINK.CONNECT, a global cybersecurity awareness campaign created to help promote the importance of online safety. Launched in 2010, the transformational campaign was created by a coalition of private companies, nonprofits and government organizations.

October 4, 2013

Redesigned automotive license plate debuts with Rowdy logo

MSU Denver License Plates

October 23, 2013

MSU Denver and Colorado Heights University Develop partner for business degrees

The University continued to transform higher education in Colorado with an agreement that made the transfer of general studies and business core credits from Colorado Heights University easier. Credits could be applied to MSU Denver bachelor of science degrees in accounting, computer information systems, finance, management and marketing.

October 24, 2013

University president joins board of the National Higher Education Association

President Stephen Jordan was named to the board of directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a Washington-based association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a historic commitment to underserved student populations and to advancing the economic progress and cultural development of their regions.

Dazbog Roadrunner Blend Coffee

October 29, 2013

Dazbog’s Roadrunner Blend goes statewide

Dazbog Coffee added Roadrunner Blend to its product line, selling it at King Soopers and City Markets as well as at its shops. A percentage of the profit from each bag was donated to a scholarship fund at the University.

October 31, 2013

College guide recognizes MSU Denver as an “attractive option” for prospective artist in the Western U.S.

“Creative Colleges: A Guide for Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” included the University’s Art Department in its 2013 edition.

Art Professor Carlos Fresquez

January 22, 2014

MSU Denver enters into its 10th exchange agreement with an international university

Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology University in India became the latest in a series of MSU Denver partnership agreements that allow for faculty and student exchanges. The other partner institutions are in Ethiopia, Albania, Hungary, China, Puerto Rico, Italy and Russia.

Lonnie Common Rashid

February 1, 2014

Lonnie “Common” Rashid gives a lecture to commemorate Black History Month

Grammy-winning rapper, actor and author Lonnie Rashid, better known as “Common,” gave a lecture titled “Greatness” during a February campus commemoration of Black History Month and the 25th anniversary of the March on Washington.

February 11, 2014

The student-run Metropolitan Grill opens in the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

Place Setting Metropolitan Grill
AnnJanette Alejano-Steele

March 17, 2014

Professor speaks at UN Commision on the Status of Women in an effort to impact human trafficking

Women’s studies and psychology Professor AnnJanette Alejano-Steele, co-founder of the nonprofit Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, spoke at the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

March 23, 2014

MSU Denver and Cherry Creek School District collaborate on aviation/STEM education

MSU Denver worked to transform aviation education for high school students from Cherry Creek, Douglas County, Englewood, Littleton and Sheridan school districts. The aviation/STEM partnership provides college credit to high school students who complete the Cherry Creek School District’s new capstone course in aviation fundamentals.

April 8, 2014

Denver Public Schools partners with MSU Denver to support STEM students

MSU Denver partnered with Denver Public Schools (DPS) to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and opportunities through a $7 million federal grant. The University planned to help Community College of Denver students transition to MSU Denver and also assist DPS in developing STEM curricula, a lab and transferrable credits.

May 1, 2014

Men’s basketball player earns two national honors

Brandon Jefferson was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II Player of the Year and the Division II Bulletin National Player of the Year after leading the Roadrunners to a 32-2 record and an appearance in the D-II Final Four.

Brandon Jefferson

May 1, 2014

Online Social Work Programs named one of nation’s best

Best Online Colleges, the premier website for ranking online programs and schools, recognized MSU Denver as having one of the nation’s best online social work degree programs for 2014. The website used enrollment data, retention and graduation rates and the breadth of specializations offered to identify 21 institutions.

May 12, 2014

MSU Denver garners regional award for community engagement

MSU Denver earned the Campus Compact of the Mountain West 2014 Engaged Campus Award for its commitment to civic engagement and service learning.

MAy 21, 2014

University invests in Denver’s teachers through first-of-its-kind partnership

MSU Denver and the University of Colorado Denver partnered with Denver Public Schools to create the Denver Student Teacher Residency, the first known program of its kind in the nation that unites a school system with universities to transform teacher education students’ final year of college into an intensive residency.

Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center

May 21, 2014

$1.5 million HLC donation helps transform hospitality education in Colorado

Rita and Navin Dimond donated $1.5 million ― the University’s largest private gift to date. Their commitment was the basis for providing real-world learning opportunities for students in the Hotel Management Program for fostering excellence in future hospitality leaders.

July 1, 2014

MSU Denver restructures academic programming to create three college and a new school

To better represent each unit’s breadth of programs, disciplines and departments, the Schools of Business; Letters, Arts and Sciences; and Professional Studies became colleges. At the same time, the Department of Teacher Education became the School of Education.


MSU Denver Seal

July 21, 2014

President Jordan and the University receive national diversity awards

MSU Denver and President Stephen Jordan received two awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine: a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award and for Jordan, the prestigious Diversity Visionary Award. The magazine cited Jordan’s and the University’s leadership in creating higher education access for undocumented students in Colorado.

MSU Denver ASSET Student saluting

September 4, 2014

MSU Denver leads state in enrolling ASSET students

MSU Denver enrolled more qualified undocumented high school graduates under the state’s ASSET law than all other Colorado public colleges or universities combined, giving these students the opportunity to not just transform their own lives, but to greatly impact the community.

September 15, 2014

Aerospace and Engineering Science initiative receives $5.2 million in funding

The AES initiative moved one step closer to becoming a reality when it received state funding to support planning, pre-construction and utility work for a new, innovative facility. The $60 million building will integrate the study of the advanced manufacturing disciplines and transform AES education in Colorado.

Denver Aerial View

September 14, 2014

MSU Denver’s education program becomes the School of Education

The University created a School of Education, restructuring and refining its former Teacher Education Department to better prepare future teachers to meet the changing needs of students across the state.

October 15, 2014

Master of Social Work Program/CU partnership nets $1.2 million grant

The Master of Social Work Program, in partnership with Colorado State University, received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund stipends for MSW students who work with at-risk children and youth.

October 20, 2014

College of Business establishes Center for Professional Selling

Continuing to transform higher education in Colorado, MSU Denver’s College of Business opened the Center for Professional Selling ― the first program of its kind in the state. The center builds on the University’s existing sales curriculum, offering students the practical training and skills they need to succeed.

November 6, 2014

Wall Street Journal names two professors “most influential”

The Wall Street Journal named Darrin Duber-Smith, senior marketing lecturer, and Erick Erikson, professor of economics, two of the nation’s 125 most influential professors for using current events to make their teaching more relevant and challenging.

October 10, 2014

MSU Denver was ranked as Colorado’s top four-year institution and 32nd nationally in the Military Times annual “Best for Vets: Colleges 2015” issue. The University was also included in Military Times “Best for Vets: Business Schools 2014.”

2015 Military Times Badge

December 4, 2014

MSU Denver named Colorado’s only STEM Jobs Approved Colleges

The University was one of only 123 schools nationwide to be included on Victory Media’s inaugural STEM Approved Colleges list, the first of its kind to rate schools on their responsiveness and relevance to the kind of high-demand, high-growth STEM occupations that can transform lives.

Mars NASA Rover Shadow

December 18, 2014

Student group among 10 finalists worldwide for Mars research competition

In a step toward transforming their dreams into reality, members of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space organization nearly won a spot for their research project on the 2018 Mars One mission. The team was one of 10 worldwide to advance to the final round of the Mars One University Competition.