Metropolitan Denver Magazine Spring 2013

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METROPOLITAN
STATE UNIVERSITY
OF DENVER

SPRING 2013

Transformations
Where Hope Starts
The New U
A Glass ... Full

PICK UP THE PHONE.

An MSU Denver student is calling!
Our students are calling Roadrunners alumni and friends to
reconnect, share campus news and raise money. But most of all, they
want to hear your MSU Denver story. Please take a few minutes to
tell them what you’re doing now and the path you took to get there.
Reminisce. Share encouragement and life lessons. Ask questions.
Your support will transform lives, helping our
hardworking students to turn big dreams into reality.
This could be the most important call you ever take.

Fund
Annual

nter

Call Ce

SPRING 2013

VOL.1 NO.1
MSUDENVER.EDU/MAGAZINE

METROPOLITAN
DENVER MAGAZINE

LOOKING AHEAD
MSU Denver alumni Kevin Kutch and
Mary Ellen Buxton gaze out of the
window of their studio in Brooklyn,
New York. They're looking forward
to brighter days ahead as they
rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Photo
by Matt Slaby.

12 16 20
A GLASS ... FULL

THE NEW U

WHERE HOPE STARTS

02 THE FIRST WORD

07 THE COACH

10 THE TRANSFORMATION

Artists Kevin Kutch and Mary Ellen
Buxton rekindle their artistic fire
after a soaking by Hurricane Sandy.

MSU Denver introduces a
magazine on a mission.

03 THE CONVERSATION

Facebook provides a forum for
talk about transformation.

04 THE NEWS

MSU Denver is making an
impact, on campus and off.

MSU Denver has unveiled a fiveyear plan to transform the University
into one of the nation’s best.

For Derrick Clark, the
academic success of his
players means more than a
national title.

An MSU Denver tuition rate for
undocumented students heralded
passage of state legislation to
make college more affordable
and restored students’ dreams of
college, careers and better lives.

Matt Kailey shares lessons
learned on his transgender
journey.

26 THE PEOPLE

08 THE INTERVIEW

MSU Denver President
Stephen Jordan charts higher
ed’s changing course.

MSU Denver alumni are
making changes in their own
lives and the lives of others.

09 THE FLOOD

An MSU Denver student helps
a lost community reclaim its
history.

ON THE COVER
Sonia Gutierrez is one of the students who benefited from MSU Denver's
tuition rate for undocumented students. Photo by Dave Neligh.

SPRING2013

01

the

FIRSTWORD
MSU Denver
introduces
a magazine on
a mission.

The University published the final issue of its venerable
Metro Magazine in November 2012. Taking its place
is Metropolitan Denver Magazine, an entirely new
publication with a fresh design, flexible format,
streamlined content, a digital edition with lots of
online extras, and a new title that incorporates two
important elements of the University’s name—
Metropolitan and Denver.
Just as the college changed its name to better reflect
who we are today, it was time for an update to
accomplish the same goal for the magazine.
The makeover reflects many months of planning,
analysis and evaluation of how we can better tell the
MSU Denver story. We drew on a decade of magazine
reader research (we were told the magazine was like
“getting a letter from an old friend”) and utilized results
of the University’s 2012 brand audit, in which new
words such as “bold” and “innovative” emerged as key
descriptors of the University.
We sought the talent of local firm Betterweather to
develop a visual concept and redesign the magazine,
and we enlisted MSU Denver Affiliate Professor
Michael Pearson—a veteran journalist with more than
three decades of experience as a newspaper reporter
and editor—to serve as the magazine’s managing editor.
This work was done with the support and guidance

Metropolitan Denver Magazine is published three times a year by the
Metropolitan State University of Denver Office of Marketing and Communications.
© 2013 Metropolitan State University of Denver. All rights reserved.
Address correspondence to: Metropolitan Denver Magazine, Metropolitan
State University of Denver, Office of Marketing and Communications, Campus Box
86, PO Box 173362, Denver, CO 80217-3362. Email [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the policies
and opinions of Metropolitan State University of Denver nor imply endorsement
by its officers or by the MSU Denver Alumni Association. Metropolitan
State University of Denver does not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability in admissions or
access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs or activities.

02

SPRING2013

of the many great team members in Advancement and
External Relations, Marketing and Communications
and our Editorial Advisory Board.
Metropolitan Denver Magazine is the end result. Each
issue will explore a theme to better frame the MSU
Denver story—the ways the University and its alumni,
students, faculty and staff are transforming lives,
communities and higher education itself. Even the
striking new nameplate design has a story to tell; read
more about it on Page 5. Fittingly for a new magazine
at a university with a new name and identity, the
inaugural issue explores “transformations.”
We hope you’ll continue to see this publication as a
“letter from an old friend,” but that old friend has a
new look that they are excited to share.
We want to hear from you. Your feedback will allow
us to continue to refine and improve Metropolitan
Denver Magazine. Tell us what you think and share
your own story at [email protected]
Sincerely,

Catherine B. Lucas
Publisher

PUBLISHER CATHERINE LUCAS | EXECUTIVE EDITOR CHELSEY BAKER-HAUCK | MANAGING EDITOR MICHAEL PEARSON
| EDITORIAL ASSISTANT REEANNA LYNN HERNANDEZ (CLASS OF 2014) | CREATIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT LARY | ART
DIRECTOR MATTHEW DUNN, BETTERWEATHER INC. | CONTRIBUTORS | SETH BACA (CLASS OF 2013) | LINDSEY DAY | CLIFF
FOSTER | LARRY GETLEN | DOUG MCPHERSON | IVAN MORENO (B.A. JOURNALISM '05) | DAVE NELIGH | DAN PATTERSON | LESLIE
PETROVSKI | EVAN SEMÓN | MATT SLABY | JULIE STRASHEIM | EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD | CATHERINE LUCAS, CHIEF OF
STAFF AND ASSOCIATE TO THE PRESIDENT FOR MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS | CHELSEY BAKER-HAUCK, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
| GREG GEISSLER, ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT OF DEVELOPMENT | MARK JASTORFF, DIRECTOR OF ALUMNI RELATIONS | DEBORA GILLIARD,
PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT | KEN PHILLIPS, CHAIR AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN | SAM NG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF
METEOROLOGY

Conversation
the

Facebook provides a forum for talk about transformation.
We Asked:

You Answered:

MSU Denver will be launching a new
university magazine this spring and
is seeking content that explores the
concept of “transformations”: original artwork or illustrations; poems
and essays; stories about courses,
faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Did a particular class or faculty
member change your way of thinking? Have you had a significant life
or career change? Are you transforming your community through
service, or your industry through
innovation? Is your research breaking new ground? Please share your
content ideas and personal stories!

I am a proud recent MSU Denver
alum and have started a business
with a current Roadrunner, Mark
Johnson. We’d love to share our story
with the university community to
hopefully motivate other student
entrepreneurs to start making their
passion their employment. Glad to
see a new medium to communicate all the wonderful success stories that are perhaps otherwise left
untold. —Jeremy Priest
I am a recent graduate of MSU Denver with degree in business marketing. I just had a recent job switch
from a retail management position
to a sales and marketing manager
of a major staffing agency downtown. I would like to share my story
because as a recent graduate, I want
to express the joy/hope to other marketing students of doing something
special and taking risks to be on

your desired goal path. This is such
a cool idea. —Kellie Lankutis
I am a fall 2012 graduate with a
degree in journalism. I’m not taking
the career route that most would
assume ... instead I guess you say
I practice “advocacy journalism”
because I aim to raise consciousness
about women’s issues. Currently I
am a correspondent for Stop Street
Harassment and am researching gender violence in the Denver area. I want to share my story
to show the value in following
strong passions as a student. You
don’t have to be “typical” in what
you do with your degree; I chose
to be more than just a reporter, I
chose to be one who creates social
change. Cool idea with the magazine; can’t wait to read about other
Roadrunners.
—Allison Riley

I’m a current student at MSU Denver and I’ve been there for two
and a half years. I’m interested in
talking about how the teachers in
the art department have become my
inspiration to achieve my dream as
an artist. —Danee Castillo
Still a student, just landed a great
internship with a grassroots org
that is so inspirational for our state
and local communities.
—Holly Smith

Do you like the new Metropolitan Denver
Magazine? Have your own transformation
story to share? Join the conversation at www.
facebook.com/msudenver. Or send a letter to
the editor at [email protected] or
Metropolitan Denver Magazine, Metropolitan
State University of Denver, Campus Box 86,
PO Box 173362, Denver, CO 80217.

Available online.

msudenver.edu/magazine

News
the

MSU Denver is making an impact, on campus and off.

Best for vets
PHOTO SETH BACA

Military Times has cited MSU
Denver’s School of Business as
one of the nation’s 60 “Best for
Vets.” The school ranked 32nd,
up from 52nd in 2011. And, the
University’s Reserve Officer
Training Corps, along with two
other Colorado ROTC units, was
honored this spring with the
U.S. Army’s MacArthur Award
recognizing the top eight ROTC
programs in the nation.

MAKING A MARK

On April 29, 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 33, the ASSET Bill,
which qualifies undocumented students for in-state tuition at all of Colorado's
public colleges and universities. The bill is "the first step toward national immigration
reform," Hickenlooper said at the signing ceremony in MSU Denver's Student
Success Building. He lauded the University—an early backer of the legislation—as
"one of the most innovative schools in the nation." (See Page 20 for more.)

Higher education pays
What’s the value of an MSU Denver
degree? Apparently more than some
other in-state schools if the
measure is earnings potential.
Using data from more than 61,800
graduates from 2006–10, the
College Measu res/Colorado
Department of Higher Education
report “Higher Education Pays: The
Initial Earnings of Graduates from
Colorado’s Colleges and Universities
04

SPRING2013

Working in Colorado” looked at the
first-year earnings of degree
recipients from public two-year
and four-year institutions and
three private colleges.
The March report found that the
median first-year earnings for an
MSU Denver student with a
bachelor’s degree was $38,547
compared to $36,777 for a Colorado
State University grad, $37,735 for

a University of Colorado-Boulder
grad and $39,143 for a University
of Denver grad.
“When you combine that earnings
potential with our tuition rate—
which is the lowest tuition among
the state’s largest universities—you
can see the educational value we
offer,” says MSU Denver President
Stephen Jordan.
—MSU Denver Staff

FUTURE FUELS
Because the environment is ever
changing, MSU Denver believes the
fuel it uses should be, too. That’s why
the University is entering the arena
of biofuel production in an effort to
provide clean, sustainable energy
for the campus.

biodiesel. The Earth and Atmospheric
Science Department will study the
fuel's effects on the environment.
Even the Hospitality Learning Center
will be involved by providing the
used cooking oil needed to produce
the fuel.

The project—expected to be fully
operational this summer—is unique
because it incorporates many
different areas of academic study.
Mechanical Engineering Technology
students and faculty will test the
biodiesel fuel on engines. The
Chemistry Department will work to
find ways to produce a purer

Fuel production will take place in the
“Fifth Street Hub” building on campus
using solar energy to power the plant.
Engineering Technology Department
Chair Richard Pozzi says the fuel will
be used to power diesel-engine
vehicles on campus and possibly fuel
generators for campus buildings.

“What is interesting about having a
project like this at the University is
it shows our flexibility to creatively
adapt to the changing environment
and allows our students to understand
that,” Pozzi says. “As things change
in the world … we will be able to allow
our students the chance to explore
these areas because we are quick and
ready on our feet. The ability to
quickly react to the industry gives
our students a strategic advantage
in employment.”
—Reeanna Lynn Hernandez

When designing a new magazine for MSU Denver, local firm Betterweather found
inspiration in the University’s mission and its accessible and inclusive urban
environment. Betterweather creative principal Matt Dunn explains that the new
Metropolitan Denver Magazine logo is, of course, an M, representing the school’s
name and location in the heart of Denver. But it also incorporates a greater-than
symbol as a reference to the aspirations of MSU Denver students, and an equal sign

PHOTO RYAN MCFARLIN

reflecting education as the great equalizer.

Christo, center stage
Two original works of art donated to Colorado citizens by the artist
Christo last year made their Centennial State debut at the MSU
Denver Center for Visual Art during a Jan. 23 reception with the
artist. About 150 people gathered at the Center for Visual Art to
view the works and meet the 77-year-old environmental artist,
who has a longstanding relationship with the center. The next
day the pieces moved to the state Capitol to be hung in the governor’s
office; they will eventually travel to museums around the state.
—Leslie Petrovski

SPRING2013

05

the

NEWS

Applause, please
When is a hotel more than a hotel? When it’s a
classroom as well. That’s the claim to fame of MSU
Denver’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center (HLC),
which recently received a 2013 citation for Best
Innovation in a Campus Building by Denver’s
alternative weekly news magazine Westword. The
hotel also received the LoDo District’s New Business
Award in March 2013.

Innovation wins

Five MSU Denver student-entrepreneurs were
recognized by the University’s Center for Innovation
in April for businesses they’ve started.

hopes to expand this year. Grimes is a sophomore
business management major with a minor in
entrepreneurship.

A junior studying communication design, Adrian
Barragan was named Entrepreneur of the Year, the
top award that carries a $1,000 prize. His business,
Denver Fashion Truck, is a mobile boutique offering
handmade fashion and accessories, small works of
art, vintage items and modern lifestyle gifts.

An established small business owner, junior Jonathan
Fessler turned to the Center for Innovation in order
to grow his masonry business. Classes such as Creative
Problem Solving and Artrepreneurship encouraged
Fessler to represent himself as both an artist and an
entrepreneur.

Sophomore Luna Cash is a founder of Tetra Arts, a
nonprofit that celebrates art and expression through
performance, education, community and merchandise.

Senior Catherine Schwab, who is interning in Zambia
this semester, co-founded Rise n’ Rise Entertainment,
which aims to promote Zambian artists and musicians.
The company plans to launch several projects this
year—including a mural, a video blog and a street-art
project—to develop its reputation and a portfolio for
future clients.
—Cliff Foster

Aaron Grimes’ food cart/grill serves healthy options
such as high-quality hotdogs and turkey and veggie
burgers. He had a “soft launch” last year, setting up at
microbrew festivals and youth sports games, and

Notable quotable
You can go anywhere in this world within 16 hours. If you take the
premise that great cities are created through connectivity, then
you realize Denver connected to the rest of the world is going to
elevate this city on a global scale. All of us are competing against
the world. Recognize that when you send me your resume for a job,
just as quickly as you send it to me a young person in Beijing can
send it to me.
—Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to students in the Current Social Issues course taught by
sociology Associate Professor Sheldon Steinhauser.

06

SPRING2013

PEDAL
POWER

Funded by the Sustainable
Campus Program, the first
Auraria Campus B-cycle
station opened in March
and features 10 red bikes
and 17 docks powered by
the sun. The Auraria
station, adjacent to the bike
lane at 9th and Curtis, is
the 52nd pick up-drop off
location in the city bikesharing program.

WANT MORE?
Keep up to date on
MSU Denver news at
www.msudenver.edu/
newsroom.

FOR DERRICK CLARK, THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF HIS
PLAYERS MEANS MORE THAN A NATIONAL TITLE.
STORY DAN PATTERSON | PHOTOS JUSTIN EDMONDS

F

or MSU Denver men's
basketball coach Derrick
Clark, the only math that
matters is 4-for-4. Not 32-3,
the Roadrunners’ record this past
season, or 22—his team’s longest
winning streak.

and Serbia. They took a team that
hadn’t advanced as far as the Elite
Eight since 2005 to an Elite Eight
showdown last season and a
national runner-up finish in April
that announced the Roadrunners’
return to the top of DII basketball.

Four-for-four represents an
academic “quadrafecta”: four out of
four seniors who will graduate on
time this spring.

“We’re back on top of the mountain,”
says Clark, whose ties to MSU
Denver basketball date back 16
years. “I’m so proud of the leadership
provided by our seniors. Their buyin, not only with what we’re doing
basketball-wise but in the
classroom, has been an example for
the rest of the team.”

A third-year head coach who was
lauded as Division II Coach of the
Year in March, Clark says the
academic tone set by seniors
Jonathan Morse, Demetrius Miller,
Tyler Cooper and Derrick January
provided the groundwork for the
Roadrunners’ deepest NCAA
Division II tournament run since
their 2004 Final Four team.
That MSU Denver’s 2013 season
ended in anguish—a one-point loss
to Drury in the finals on April 7—
doesn’t obscure the accomplishment
of Clark, his seniors, and a mix of
underclassmen who are local
products and imports from Australia

Clark’s players describe him as
“demanding and passionate.” Known
for his intensity, Clark is never “up
off the bench” because he is “never
on the bench,” preferring to pace the
sideline communicating with
players and working officials.
The program’s reemergence feels
familiar for Clark, who was a fulltime assistant coach when the
Roadrunners cut down the nets two
times in three years in the early

2000s. Although losing in the finals
in gut-wrenching fashion was
unexpected, in his post-game
speech Clark was sanguine about
the mark his current crop of players
has left on the program.

mention the negative effect the fiveyear DI probationary period, during
which a school is barred from
post-season competition, has on
recruiting—ensures that MSU
Denver will stay at the DII level.

“We believed in our heart and soul
we would win that last game,” he
said. “The first thing I told them was,
‘When you walk out of that locker
room, stick your chest out. Don’t
slump, you’re a champion. Look at
what you’ve done.’

“Kids want to play in the tourney—
period,” Clark says. “We’re happy
where we are. We value what we
have here.

“You’re hanging a banner, a runnerup banner, and there’s no shame in
it. We don’t believe in moral
victories, but once the smoke clears
they will understand the
significance of the season and see
that we did some unbelievable stuff
and made the community proud of
our accomplishments.”

“We like being the big fish.”

VISIT www.msudenver.edu/
magazine for a slideshow of
the Roadrunners’ national
championship run and stories
about men’s basketball alumni
Chris Roper, Mick Alcock and
Doug Stepelton.

Despite their success, don’t expect
the Roadrunners to follow the lead
of the University of Denver and the
University of Northern Colorado in
making the jump to Division I. The
program’s current success—not to

SPRING2013

07

BY LESLIE PETROVSKI

Q:
A:

What trends do you see shaping higher
education?

First, return on investment—the value of the
degree after you leave the institution. Related
to that is, how are you going to use technology
to constrain, if not lower, the cost of getting an
education? Third is the whole question of how
institutions will play together, particularly how
well students can move from one institution to
another and the portability of their credits.
Fourth is how institutions will give credit to
people for their life experiences in order to
reduce the time and cost of a degree.

Q:

I want to go back to ROI. What can we do to
help keep higher education affordable for
the masses?

A:

We are going to make tools available to help
[students] sort out the question of return-oninvestment and to help them understand that
they don’t necessarily have to go to the flagship
institution. You can get a degree in an area that
you’re interested in at a more affordable price.
You will be able to go online and compare what
the tuition net and first-year salaries would
be between institutions, and you can decide as
an informed consumer which [school] makes
more sense. You at least ought to understand
what the differences are going to be for what
you are going to pay in terms of outcome.

Let’s look at public higher education funding.

Q:
A:

Well, we won’t have to look very long because
there isn’t much. For the foreseeable future we
don’t see a likelihood of significant increases
for higher education, which means if you
are going to sustain the operations of your
institution and have any vision of actually
growing that in some meaningful way, you
have to be thinking about how you reduce costs
on the expense side, and how you generate more
revenues through other kinds of relationships,
in our case private-public partnerships. It’s not
going to come just by raising tuition.

08

SPRING2013

Q:

How would you respond to this statement:
Every young person should have a four-year
degree?

A:

I would say that’s not true. Some two-year
degrees can be as good or better an initial
investment than a four-year degree. I would
say that not everybody has to have a bachelor’s
degree, but by far a large majority of people—
like 80 percent of them—must have some posthigh school education.

Q:
A:

What are your priorities with regards to
students?

First and foremost we have been focused on the
issue of retention and graduation, particularly
with a population of students that can be
academically fragile. They are not necessarily
coming in with either the highest high school
GPAs, SAT, ACT scores or a history of family
participation in higher education. So we want
a lower cost, but we also want better retention
and graduation rates.

Q:
A:

What can colleges and universities do for
underrepresented students?

There are a number of things I think will
be important. The first one that you have to
overcome is the issue of affordability. And, it’s
not enough to accept these students into your
institution. It’s about what you’re going to do
to help them to achieve and how the institution
accepts responsibility for their retention
and graduation. All students are capable of
succeeding. We really believe that. But they
may start at different places, so how do you
put together an array of support services to
help them? We as a public institution accept
responsibility that the faces of our students
should mirror the faces of our community, in
particular with respect to Latino students. We
saw such a demonstrable difference there that
we had a responsibility to change that and to
really work at creating an environment where
people felt welcomed and treated fairly.

MSU Denver
President
Stephen Jordan
charts higher ed’s
changing course.

VISIT www.msudenver.edu/
magazine for an expanded
version of the interview with
President Jordan, including
discussion about retention and
graduation rates, diversity,
online education, and credit for
prior learning.

DOMONIC "DEE" ELLIOTT

AN MSU DENVER
STUDENT HELPS A LOST
COMMUNITY RECLAIM
ITS HISTORY.
STORY MINDY SINK | PHOTO EVAN SEMÓN

Nearly 50 years ago Denver had its own version of
Hurricane Katrina and the Lower Ninth Ward—and
very few people know about it.
MSU Denver sophomore Domonic “Dee” Elliott aims to
change that. She is retracing the history of Denver’s
Jerome Park neighborhood and the flood that wiped it
out, and reconnecting residents who’ve been displaced
for half a century.
Following days of torrential rain, the South Platte River
topped its banks on June 16, 1965, spreading out for half
a mile or more through Denver’s downtown corridor,
inundating neighborhoods and industrial areas and
leaving mud, debris and more than $500 million in
damages in the flood’s wake.
“The flood [swept] trains off the tracks, completely
covered homes, one person was killed, and miles and
miles of homes and businesses were demolished,” says
Elliott, who is documenting Jerome Park’s transformation
from thriving community to industrial park in a
research project, “The Case of Jerome Park: Displacement,
Redevelopment, and Reunion. Reconstructing a
Neighborhood Community Fifty Years After the Big
Flood.”
Jerome Park in 1965 was a bustling, low-income
Hispanic community along the South Platte River just
south of where the Auraria Campus sits today. Many
of the homes still used outhouses and had backyard
farms with animals “for feeding and eating,” Elliott says.
“Jerome Park was like an urban village. Even though
the residents were poor, they had tight connections
and lots of pride,” says MSU Denver sociology Professor
Linda Mariposa Marangia, whose spouse, Dan Martinez,
is a former Jerome Park resident.

But, developers had set their sights on the Jerome Park
area for its convenient access to transportation with
proximity to the new Interstate 25 on its flank. “The
neighborhood was earmarked by developers for
commerce and industry, and there was an attempt to
buy the residents out with bottom-dollar offerings,”
explains Marangia, Elliott’s research adviser. “When
the Platte River flood of 1965 devastated their homes,
the government moved them out without adequate
reparation to continue [their] lives in another location.”
“The Denver Urban Renewal Authority utilized eminent
domain against the residents of the area,” Elliott explains.
“Basically, they were outsmarted by the government,
in my opinion.”
Schools, homes, churches and businesses were tangible
symbols—now lost—of culture, history and bonds shared
by Jerome Park residents, says Elliott, who has organized
a reunion of former Jerome Park residents.
“I want to tell the story of these people,” she says. “I want
to explain urban planning and educate the government
and communities about situations like this so we can
do better in the future as far as handling disasters.
“We need to do a better job of helping [victims] of these
natural disasters to heal and assisting them with
rebuilding,” Elliott adds. “A lot of what was lost in that
flood were traditions and values. The residents lost a
sense of who they were.”

SEE historic images of Jerome Park and watch
a video of the 1965 South Platte River flood at
www.msudenver.edu/magazine.

SPRING2013

09

THE

TRANS
STORY DOUG MCPHERSON | PHOTO SETH BACA

MATT KAILEY SHARES LESSONS LEARNED ON HIS TRANSGENDER JOURNEY.

The title alone is enough to garner plenty of attention:
“Teeny Weenies: And Other Short Subjects.” But the
book of personal essays also landed some sizeable praise
earlier this year when it earned a nomination for one
of the most prestigious prizes in lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender publishing, a Lambda Literary Award.
In the book, author and Metropolitan State University
of Denver professor Matt Kailey shares the tender and
tough times growing up in Iowa and Nebraska as
”Jennifer,” and his later life fitting into the name and
life of Matt. You see, Kailey was born female. Now he’s
male.
“It’s sort of a before-and-after affair,” says Kailey, an
adjunct instructor in MSU Denver’s Women’s Studies
program.
Kailey’s first book, “Just Add Hormones: An Insider’s
Guide to the Transsexual Experience,” netted the same
nomination in 2006. “It didn’t win,” Kailey notes, “but
as they say, it’s great just to be nominated.”
After that book’s success, Kailey felt compelled to write
a follow up at readers’ request.
“They’d email me and say, ‘I loved your book, but it really
doesn’t tell me a whole lot about you before the
transition. I’d like to know what your childhood and
early years were like.’ ”
Kailey returned to his computer and poured his life
onto the screen with essays, his genre of choice.
As painful as some of his memories are, Kailey manages
a lighthearted approach with chapter titles like “Putting
the Men in Menopause” and “Most Changed Since High
School.”
“What I want readers to get out of it is basically a good
time. It’s a humorous read, and I want them to enjoy
themselves,” Kailey says. “But I think they are also
poignant, and I think they strike a chord with readers.”

LEARN MORE
Matt Kailey blogs about transgender and
transsexual issues at www.tranifesto.com.
Read an interview with Kailey about his Transgender
Studies course at www.msudenver.edu/magazine.
Kailey also is striking a chord with MSU Denver
students. Last fall he approached the University about
offering a new course called Transgender Studies to
help students better understand that population. The
course was approved, and Kailey taught it this spring.
Steve Willich—director for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and
Transgender Student Services at Auraria—is a fan of
the course and says the definition of diversity needs
to be expanded beyond race and ethnicity to include
information and education about sexual orientation
and gender identity and expression.
“Vice President Joe Biden has called transgender
discrimination the civil rights issue of our time,” Willich
says. “Our students will be working with trans
individuals when they graduate, and we all need to be
aware of the broad diversity of identities in our
communities and have knowledge on how to treat
everyone with respect and dignity.”
So what’s next for Kailey? A series of short e-books.
His first one is already out—“My Child is Transgender:
10 Tips for Parents of Adult Trans Children,” 30-pages
and 99 cents at Amazon.com.
For future e-books, he plans to target human resource
departments, employers, medical professionals, sales
professionals, therapists and educators.
“That is a lot of books,” Kailey says with a laugh. “I have
to get at it.”

SPRING2013

11

glass
a

Artists Kevin Kutch
and Mary Ellen Buxton
rekindle their artistic
fire after a soaking by
Hurricane Sandy.
STORY LARRY GETLEN | PHOTOS MATT SLABY

H

usband and wife glass artists Kevin Kutch
and Mary Ellen Buxton sit by a cast-iron
fireplace in their studio, known as Pier Glass,
in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Outside,
a view of the Statue of Liberty is obscured by dense fog,
evoking a melancholy mood that for some time has been
all too familiar for the pair.

“It’s a fascinating material to make 3D sculptural work
out of,” he says. “I did a number of pieces at the time
that incorporated steel and metal with glass—not so
much blown glass, but grinding and polishing a piece
into some sort of jewel, then mounting it into a sculptural
piece. It's an addictive material to work with.”

Kutch and Buxton’s studio by the water was devastated
last October by Hurricane Sandy, which unleashed
six-foot waves throughout their 5,500-square-foot
space. During the two months that followed, they had
no electricity, and this tiny fireplace was their saving
grace.

TRY THINGS, BECAUSE
THE ONLY WAY
YOU’RE GONNA FIND
OUT IS BY FAILING.

“This was the only heat source,” says Kutch, loading a
small wooden beam into the fire.
“We would huddle around it,” says Buxton. “When we
ate, we heated our food here. Our lunches went on top,
and we made a little grill. It was like camping indoors.
Totally rustic.”
As they discuss their history, including how they met
and received art training at MSU Denver in the early
1970s, and their experiences in the wake of Sandy, one
can’t help but notice an optimism shining through the
pair, especially impressive given that the hurricane
cost them around a quarter of a million dollars in lost
equipment, business and time.

K

utch and Buxton met at MSU Denver as art students.
“It was one of the top places for art because their
professors were some of the best in the western area,”
Buxton says.
“Bob Mangold, the sculpture instructor, was a huge
influence on me,” says Kutch. “Almost every day I do
something he taught me—from welding to basic design.
Even though we had design courses, he was the one
who tied the ideas in those courses together for me in
a three-dimensional sense.”

Kutch became a glass artist, and Buxton, an art teacher.
They moved to New York around 1991, and in 1994 they
opened their space in Red Hook, a one-square-mile
neighborhood of retail stores, restaurants and galleries
that helped revitalize the former shipping port and
industrial district.
Both now make glass art full time.
The pair has done commission work for collectors and
museums (they currently have work on display at New
York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art), and their business
ran smoothly until Sandy tore it asunder.

A

fter 2011’s Hurricane Irene filled their space with
two inches of water, Buxton and Kutch took the
warnings about Sandy seriously; they fortified their
studio with sandbags, braced windows and added
shutters. But these were no match for Sandy’s 7-10 foot
surges, and their entire studio—like most of the
neighborhood surrounding it—wound up under more
than five feet of water.

Both also cite printmaking professor Bob Strohmeier
as one who helped ignite their creativity.

“The amount of water in Red Hook was more than
anybody thought,” says Buxton. “Four-and-a-half
blocks from here, there was a big white planter that
said ‘Pier Glass’ on it. That was ours.”

“He said, ‘Experiment. Let things happen,’” recalls
Buxton. “He always said to try things, because the only
way you’re gonna find out is by failing. That was a huge
influence on me. It’s how I’ve always worked.”

“It floated up about five-and-a-half blocks,” says Kutch,
“then moved back a block before settling there.”

Kutch graduated with a B.A. in 1977, a year after Buxton,
and they married in 1978. When Kutch got a job
polishing and grinding glass at an art studio a few years
later, he was entranced by the possibilities.

When the couple returned to their studio the day after
the storm, the debris was eight feet high. All of their
work had been tossed to the floor and was in various
stages of disarray. Much of it was cracked, and all of it
was caked in sand, oil, and more.

SPRING2013

13

It’s like when you’re
driving somewhere
and the road’s closed,
and you have to take
a different road. Well,
you never knew how
beautiful it was down
that road until you
had to take it.

“We’re looking at updating,” says Kutch. “Since we have
to rebuild a furnace, do we pull [our current one] out, or
do we start new? Maybe we think about differences in
design—making things more efficient.”
With recovery in their sights, Kutch and Buxton are
confident they can get their business not only back to
where it was, but hopefully beyond as well.
“It’s gonna take a while, but let’s move so we can make
strides in new directions and hopefully open up new
markets,” says Kutch.

They initially thought it would take 3-4 weeks to get
everything back in order. Several days in, the full
magnitude of the damage had become frighteningly
clear.
“The deeper you got into trying to move things, the more
you found that had been destroyed,” says Kutch, “and
the more it sunk in how much it was going to take to
put it back together.”
“We were in shock,” says Buxton. “It took a couple of
days to start digesting the true horror of the whole
mess.”

“Because of this interruption, maybe we can get a new
perspective,” he adds. “It’s like when you’re driving
somewhere and the road’s closed, and you have to take
a different road. Well, you never knew how beautiful
it was down that road until you had to take it. So maybe
this can work out.”
Pier Glass was one of the first businesses on Red
Hook’s Beard Street Pier and has helped transform
the neighborhood into a creative haven. Creative arts
have helped to revitalize Denver neighborhoods as
well. VISIT www.msudenver.edu/magazine to read
more and watch a video showing the damage to Pier
Glass and the work to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Kutch and Buxton had no water or sewer for two weeks
and were without their own power for two months.
They relied on flashlights, candles, and a neighbor’s
generator that provided enough power for occasional
light.
Assisted by a constant stream of volunteers who came
to Red Hook to help those affected by the storm, it took
the couple six weeks just to sort through and clean out
the mountains of debris, and to determine what was
damaged beyond repair and what could be saved.
Somewhere between 300 and 400 pieces of glass had
to be meticulously examined to determine if they could
be saved, or if some tiny, irreparable scratch relegated
them to the scrap heap.
“Glass filled the tables in the kitchen,” says Buxton, “and
you couldn’t even see them because they were encrusted
in salt, and oils, and other odd trivia. There’s an elevator
outside our door with hydraulic fluid, and when the
water crested over where it was in the elevator, it coated
everything close to it—which meant this studio. So
everything was well oiled. We have still not finished
cleaning all the glass.”
Kutch estimates they’re still six months away from
being fully operational. But even the darkest moments
have flickers of light, and in the wake of this tragedy,
they’re hoping to take this opportunity to reassess their
business and refocus their energies in a way that could
potentially turn disaster into opportunity.
SPRING2013

15

new

THE

STORY LESLIE PETROVSKI | ILLUSTRATIONS MATT DUNN

MSU Denver has unveiled a five-year plan to transform the
University into one of the nation’s best.

16

SPRING2013

E

xcept for the late-night efforts of
employees like Miguel Garza-Wicker
(B.F.A. art '10) to transition the school’s
website, the July 1, 2012, transformation
of Metropolitan State College of Denver
to Metropolitan State University of
Denver was largely a quiet affair.

That day a simple promo posted on MSU Denver's
website announced: “Colorado’s newest university!”
The near-seamless change marked the end of more
than two years of research, institutional soul searching and legislative action authorizing the school to
change its name on July 1.
As President Stephen Jordan said before a throng of
about 650 students, faculty, staff, dignitaries and
other well-wishers at the April 18, 2012, bill signing ceremony, “This might be the best day yet to be
a Roadrunner! This isn’t the end, though. Rather it’s
the beginning of a new era for Metro State.”

DEFINING A NEW ERA

What exactly will that era look like? A 26-page strategic plan offers some clues.
In a year that saw the University change its name and
transform its public face with capital projects that
included the Student Success Building and the Hotel
and Hospitality Learning Center, a group of MSU
Denver faculty, staff and administrators shaped a
document that will drive the institution philosophically for the next five years. Adopted by the Board
of Trustees in April 2012, the aptly named 2012–17
strategic plan, “A Time of Transformation,” articulates
an ambitious vision for the University.
“The strategic plan provides a broad template for
the future that allows for innovation, creativity and
growth,” Jordan explains. “I am confident that it will
move us further down the path to preeminence.”
The plan’s first page paints a portrait of what the
University hopes to look like in 2017. The institution
it describes offers an exemplary education characterized by real-world experiences, high standards

THE STRATEGIC PLAN
PROVIDES A BROAD TEMPLATE
FOR THE FUTURE THAT
ALLOWS FOR INNOVATION,
CREATIVITY AND GROWTH.

-Stephen Jordan
MSU Denver President

and personal attention. It’s a school where diverse
students, faculty and staff are respected and valued,
and a school that is nearing its goal of becoming a
federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution.
The plan finds that the University has deeply embedded itself in the community as a partner in business
and community improvement efforts. And it has
attained a regional and national reputation for being
Colorado’s urban land-grant university and leading
public urban institution.
More concretely, the MSU Denver of 2017 will be
closing in on its goal of 25 percent Latino student
enrollment while also serving as a model for recruiting
and retaining students, faculty and staff from other
under-represented groups. Undergraduate student
graduation and retention rates will be stronger; prospective students will begin making MSU Denver
their university of choice rather than their university
of default. And businesses, governments and nonprofit organizations will seek out the University’s
brain trust and resources to help solve business and
community problems.
“This plan is going to help realize the potential of
this outstanding urban university,” says Rob Cohen,
chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees. “In 2017
we are going to have a place at the table in local and
state policy discussions. Businesses and community
organizations will be looking to us for interns,
research and development assistance and new hires.
And we are finally going to be recognized for offering
not just an affordable education, but for offering an
excellent, real-world, urban experience that appeals to
the most diverse population of students imaginable.”

THIS PLAN IS
GOING TO HELP
REALIZE THE
POTENTIAL
OF THIS
OUTSTANDING
URBAN
UNIVERSITY.

-Rob Cohen
Board of Trustees Chair

SETTING HIGH
EXPECTATIONS

The strategic plan underpins some
lofty goals. At the meeting in which
the board accepted the strategic
plan, Patrick Sanaghan, president
of The Sanaghan Group and a consultant on the plan’s development,
called it a “very aspirational document” but listed several institutional qualities he thought would
drive its success. These included
having the right president at the
right time; the University’s commitment to transparency, assessment and a high-quality faculty;
and the deep community affection
employees have for the place.
“Pay attention to your culture,”
he told the board. “It will be your
competitive edge.”
Physics Professor and Faculty
Senate President Kamran Sahami
sees the strategic plan as providing a bold outline for the future
of MSU Denver that faculty and
staff will fill in in coming years.
Sahami co-chaired the Strategic
Planning Committee with Cathy
Lucas, associate to the president
for marketing and communications and chief of staff.
“One of the things that sets it apart,”
Sahami says, “is that it doesn’t prescribe specific actions to take. It
creates a framework for a vision of
the campus and what it should be,
and it allows a tremendous amount

18

SPRING2013

of flexibility for faculty, administration and staff to look at specific
ideas and projects of their own to
get the institution there.”
Looking at the plan on her desk,
Provost Vicki Golich points to
immediate changes she would like
to see, such as contacting students at academic risk earlier in
the semester and helping current
and former students with large
numbers of credits to finish their
degrees more efficiently through
the Center for Individualized
Learning.
“To me, it really focuses us on the
effort to recruit, retain and graduate students—with the highest
quality education possible—who
are ready and prepared to go into
the workforce and be good members of the community,” she says.
“It will be a living document that
will help us achieve those goals.”

PUTTING THE
PLAN INTO ACTION

Giving the plan “legs” is the next
hurdle. As fall semester loomed,
Tara Tull, assistant professor and
chair of the Department of Human
Services, was making notes on the
plan in anticipation of the strategic planning her department will
begin soon.
She expects the department will
start by having discussions about
members’ collective strengths and

weaknesses, new initiatives and
how their plans converge with
the goals and planning points
articulated in the University
plan. Last spring, the department
got a jump-start on addressing
“student success and degree completion” by conducting a survey
about barriers to graduation. An
open-ended question revealed
that while most students think
the department is doing a great
job at advising, some students
feel they have received inconsistent information.
To address this issue, Tull says,
department faculty will get
additional training, and she plans
to create resource guides for the
complicated institutional procedures and rules students need to
know to graduate.
“Strategic planning creates a space
for dialogue among departments
and in departments about where
they’re going,” Tull says. “Strategic
planning, when it’s done well, gives
you an opportunity to look at the
big picture.”
Alumna Joan Foster (B.A. biology
’78)—dean of MSU Denver’s School
of Letters, Arts and Sciences—
agrees that strategic planning in
general offers people a way to step
back from quotidian concerns and
cast an eye on where the University
is headed. She envisions continuing to enhance the academic

climate in her school with more
opportunities for undergraduate
research and additional ways to get
students to enrich their educations
through community engagement.

EMBRACING THE
LAND-GRANT
MISSION

The community engagement piece
is central to the strategic plan and
the institution’s idea of itself as an
urban land–grant university, a concept Jordan voiced in his first speech
to the MSU Denver community in
2005, where he outlined a vision for
an institution that breaks down the
notion of the Ivory Tower academy
to one that behaves instead like
the land-grant schools established
under the 1862 Morrill Act.
“The Morrill Act essentially provided for a working relationship
between those who faced problems
and those who were involved in
finding solutions to problems,”
Jordan said. “County agents in
agricultural extension centers
were available to work directly
with farmers and ranchers in
problem solving, and in so doing
they relied heavily on upon the
knowledge and expertise of those
in the faculties of the land-grant
colleges and universities. Students at land-grant institutions
were afforded the opportunities to
learn theories and practices which
would be of value as they entered
the work force.”

Signs of progress are everywhere.
Last summer President Jordan
made the bold move to increase
the University’s diversity even
further by offering the Colorado
High School/GED Non-resident
Tuition Rate, making MSU Denver
more affordable for hundreds of
undocumented students. A new
aviation and advanced manufacturing building will involve
industry partners in the planning
and financing.
“In 2017 it’s not just MSU Denver
that will have grown and changed,”
Jordan says, “but also the city of
Denver.”

IN 2017 IT’S
NOT JUST MSU
DENVER THAT
WILL HAVE
GROWN AND
CHANGED, BUT
ALSO THE CITY
OF DENVER.

-Stephen Jordan
MSU Denver President

The January/February 2013 issue
of Trusteeship Magazine, published
by the Association of Governing
Boards, featured articles collected
under the headline, “A Tale of Two
Cities: Using Public/Private Partnerships to Create Higher Education Opportunities.” A piece about
Denver by MSU Denver President
Jordan discussed the Hospitality
Learning Center and the Center
for Innovation’s Franchise Ownership Program. A second article
about New York focused on the City
University of New York (CUNY).

Review the MSU Denver strategic
plan and read more about the
name change transition at
www.msudenver.edu/magazine.

“When I came to MSU Denver
eight years ago, I used CUNY as an
example of the kind of preeminent
urban institution we should aspire
to be,” Jordan says. “So to be recognized side by side with CUNY
shows the progress we’ve made.”
Dean Foster remembers hanging
out with fellow science students at
the Chicken Unlimited on Colfax
before the institution even had a
campus. She says she never expected her “Metro State” to become
the shining university it is today.
“To see this growth and see us still
holding tight to this mission of
serving the urban population and
providing accessibility to students
who might not otherwise go to
college—it’s the best mix,” she says.
“Where else could you go where
you’d have this mix of students?
You can’t beat Metro State.”

SPRING2013

19

MSU Denver student Victor Galvan says the Pledge
of Allegiance at the Colorado State Capitol, where he
followed the progress of legislation that would impact
immigrants, including Senate Bill 33, the ASSET Bill.
The bill was signed into law in a ceremony at the
University on April 29, 2013.

An MSU Denver tuition
rate for undocumented
students heralded passage
of state legislation to make
college more affordable
and restored students’
dreams of college, careers
and better lives.

WHERE

STORY IVAN MORENO | PHOTOS MATT SLABY

WHEN

it was time for Victor
Galvan to pick up his
cap and gown for his high school graduation,
his mother insisted on buying his class ring.
“I didn’t know it was because she felt bad
because we couldn’t afford to go to college,
we couldn’t afford to continue,” says Galvan,
now 22. “I say ‘we’ because my mom and
our family had really supported me, and we
struggled together to get to this point.”
As an undocumented immigrant, he hasn’t
qualified for in-state college tuition, even
though he’s lived in Colorado since he was
8 months old. Colorado’s out-of-state rates—
which can be more than three-times higher
than tuition for residents—were unaffordable for his family. So his mother told him
something unexpected.
“We got into the car to go home [and] she just
looked at me and said, ‘It’s OK if you don’t
go to college. You’ve gone far enough. You’ve
made us so proud,’” Galvan remembers.
“I didn’t find it fair,” he says. “But I told her,
‘This is not enough. This is not where it
ends.’”

THE

challenge of paying college tuition for
students like Galvan is what Metropolitan State University of Denver sought to address
when its Board of Trustees voted 7-1 last June to set a
new tuition rate for students who live in Colorado but
cannot prove lawful presence. Two months earlier, a
similar proposal failed to pass the Colorado Legislature.
MSU Denver’s decision was bold even for a university that was the first higher-education institution
in Colorado to support bills to allow undocumented
students to pay tuition rates similar to legal state
residents. At the time of the board’s action, there
were 12 states that allowed undocumented students
to pay in-state tuition, but there were no individual
colleges or universities that had instituted the lower
rates on their own, according to immigration and
academic experts.
The rate MSU adopted was higher than in-state
tuition because it included a $650 fee for the use of
campus buildings and it didn’t include a state subsidy
known as the College Opportunity Fund. Still, the
new rate significantly lowered tuition for undocumented students. It meant they could pay about
$3,578 per semester, compared to the out-of-state
rate of just under $8,000. In-state tuition is $2,152
per semester.
In fall 2012—the first semester the lower non-resident tuition category was available—237 undocumented MSU Denver students benefited from the rate,
according to University data. In spring 2013, 264
undocumented students were paying the new rate.
They are students who otherwise would’ve had difficulty affording college, or who have been forced to
slowly chip away at advancing their education by
taking classes off and on, as Galvan has been doing
since he graduated from Denver’s North High School
in 2009.

SPRING2013

21

Galvan, a sophomore journalism major, says MSU
Denver’s creation of a new tuition category came at
a perfect time in his life because he was becoming
frustrated by lawmakers’ inability to pass legislation.

SINCE

“You start wondering whether you’re ever going to get
that chance,” he says. “And Metro really created that
for me—that hope that things can change.”

In February 2013, the University of Hawaii’s Board
of Regents unanimously approved in-state tuition
for students regardless of immigration status if they
met certain criteria.

To qualify for the new tuition category, known as the
Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate,
undocumented students must have graduated from
a Colorado high school after at least three years of
attendance, and they must show they’re in the process
of obtaining legal status.
“Each student’s life and ability to contribute to local
communities is enriched by the opportunity to
complete his or her educational goals,” says Tanya
Broder, an attorney with the National Immigration
Law Center.
Broder, who researches programs to lower tuition
for undocumented students nationwide, says that
while it’s difficult to track institutional policies, there
have been recent examples of officials creating new
rates outside of the legislative process. They were not
individual colleges, however, and she doesn’t know of
any other instances where a college or university has
done something similar to MSU Denver.
Sonia Gutierrez, 22, came to Denver with her family
from the Mexican state of Chihuahua when she was 2.
Unlike many undocumented students, she’s been able
to attend MSU Denver because a private donor paid
her tuition. But the donor could only pay for two years,
and she couldn’t afford to finish without that help.
Then MSU Denver lowered tuition for undocumented
students.
“Perfect timing because I had just lost my private
donor and I thought I was going to have to pay out-ofstate tuition,” says Gutierrez, a speech communications major who is graduating with honors in May.
Gutierrez says college affordability is especially challenging for immigrants.
“I don’t come from a wealthy family or a family with
a lot of money that can put me through college. My
parents work and make barely enough for my family,”
Gutierrez says.
“This opportunity [to attend college] has changed my
life,” she adds. “I’m so proud to be a student of Metro.”

22

SPRING2013

MSU Denver adopted the new
tuition rate, the momentum to
lower college costs for undocumented immigrants
has continued nationwide.

And in March, Colorado lawmakers approved Senate
Bill 33, the ASSET Bill, allowing undocumented
students to qualify for in-state tuition.
The most recent failed legislative attempts called for
a slightly higher rate, similar to what MSU Denver
adopted. But with Democrats in control of both legislative chambers in 2013, lawmakers were able to take
a more aggressive approach with ASSET. Still, the
measure received a handful of votes from Republicans who had traditionally opposed the idea.
Two weeks later, Oregon lawmakers approved a
similar bill. The measures in Colorado and Oregon
have been signed into law.
“These proposals are gaining bipartisan support this
year,” Broder says, noting that more than a dozen
states are considering bills this year that would
provide access to in-state tuition, scholarships, or
state financial aid regardless of status.
Although some lawmakers, immigrant rights groups,
and academics applauded MSU Denver’s action, it’s
been a contentious issue. Colorado Attorney General
John Suthers issued an opinion last summer questioning the University’s power to set the new tuition
category, and some Republican lawmakers also criticized the move.
Amid the criticism, the University stood by its decision. MSU Denver officials insisted that what they
did complied with federal and state laws because
taxpayers didn’t subsidize the special tuition rate.
And, University leaders countered, addressing
tuition affordability for undocumented students was
not only within the institution’s legal right, but it also
was the right thing to do.
The non-resident rate answered an imperative
stemming from the institution’s roots. Born out of an
urban renewal project that displaced many Latinos
in the area, MSU Denver has made it a goal to be
accessible to students of color, President Stephen
Jordan says. He notes that more than 33 percent of

EACH
STUDENT’S LIFE
AND ABILITY TO
CONTRIBUTE
TO LOCAL
COMMUNITIES
IS ENRICHED
BY THE
OPPORTUNITY
TO COMPLETE
HIS OR HER
EDUCATIONAL
GOALS.
-Tanya Broder,
National Immigration Law Center

DALIA QUEZADA
students enrolled at MSU Denver are students of
color, including nearly 20 percent who are Latino.
“We have this mantra that we are an institution of
opportunity,” Jordan told the legislature’s Joint Budget
Committee during a hearing last June. “We have
historically served the largest population of lowincome, first-generation and historically under-represented populations, and we’re very proud of that.”
There are economic considerations as well, Jordan
told the committee. A well-educated workforce benefits society and the economy through greater tax
revenues, higher productivity, increased workforce
flexibility, enhanced civic engagement and improved
quality of life. By extending an affordable but unsubsidized tuition rate to students, “They would be able
to contribute to our economy in a more meaningful
way.”
Gutierrez is making that contribution already. “I got
my Social Security number—those nine numbers that
held me back for so long,” she says. “And I now have
a work visa that I can use my degree in.”
University officials did extensive research before
proceeding with the board’s action and looked at
court cases in California and Kansas, where the
states were sued for approving in-state tuition for
undocumented students. Courts had ruled in the
states’ favor.
The University was prepared for a lawsuit, Jordan
says. “We felt we’d done a lot of work going into it
and we felt confident in our legal position.”
Ultimately, there were no lawsuits. And Jordan says
he was heartened by the number of new students
who enrolled under the special tuition rate, given
the short timeframe between the board’s decision
and sign-up dates.

JORDAN

says he believes that
proceeding with the new
tuition rate for undocumented students provided
a stimulus to “the broader debate about a tuition
benefit for undocumented students.”
In November 2012 NEWSED Community Development Corp. presented a Civil Rights Award to
MSU Denver and President Jordan, citing a host of
initiatives that welcome and support students of
color, including the “very courageous” decision to
establish the non-resident tuition rate for undocumented students.

Dalia Quezada's family moved to Colorado from
the Mexican state of Chihuahua when she was 7.
Quezada was a straight-A student throughout her
time at Bruce Randolph High School in Denver and
graduated near the top of her class. But when it
came time to look at colleges, she was unable to
apply for the scholarships other students were
pursuing.
“It was really difficult and stressful to see that I wasn’t
going to be able to go to college just because I
didn’t have a nine-digit number,” says Quezada, 19.
When MSU Denver announced its tuition rate for
undocumented students, Quezada was among the
first to register.
“I was obviously very happy that I would get a chance
to get my education,” says Quezada. Although she’d
received $12,000 in scholarship money from private
donors, going to MSU Denver allowed her to pay
for more classes, she says.
“If I had gone to another expensive school, I wouldn’t
have money to pay for more than one year,” she
says, noting that she intends to continue at MSU
Denver even though she now has access to in-state
tuition at other state colleges with the passage of
the ASSET Bill.
“Economically, I’m not ready to pay a larger tuition,”
says the freshman management major. “Metro offers
a good education for an affordable price.”

Among the lawmakers who praised MSU Denver’s
decision to move forward without legislative approval
was Democratic Sen. Mike Johnston, co-sponsor of
the ASSET Bill during the previous three legislative
sessions. He says the University “changed the tenor
of the debate.”
“They became the group to break trail. They were the
first one into the deep snow, and they walked through
and showed that it was possible and the rest of us
could follow,” he says. “And they took some arrows
for doing it.”
Johnston says MSU Denver’s decision showed that
higher-education institutions were ready to act
outside of the legislative process. When Suthers
issued his opinion, he was responding to a question
from the Colorado Community College System, which
had supported Johnston’s bill and wanted to know
whether it was possible to do what MSU Denver did.
“[MSU Denver] showed that it was possible to do a
version of it, and the sky wouldn’t fall and everything
would continue and universities would be viable,”
Johnston says.
In states where undocumented students aren’t
allowed to pay in-state tuition, there are behind-the-

scenes efforts to help them pay for college through
private donors or private scholarships, says Daniel
Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges
and Universities.
“What Metropolitan State University [of Denver] did
of course was something that was more visible,” he
says. “It’s reflective of a broader national debate that
has hit a crescendo this year.”
Now that undocumented students have access to
in-state tuition, MSU Denver plans to phase out
its non-resident rate. Most immigrant students are
expected to qualify for the in-state rate, but those
who don’t will be able to use the non-resident rate until
they graduate, Jordan says.

“It’s the school that’s always been open to me,” he says.
“One great thing about Metro is it doesn’t discriminate. Metro has really been available to all students,
and that’s why it’s such an obvious option for so many
people. It’s really inclusive.”

Since graduating from Denver’s
North High School in 2009, Victor
Galvan had been attending the
Community College of Denver,
slowly accruing the credits he’s
able to afford. Last fall, he attended
his first semester at MSU Denver.
Galvan, whose family moved to
Colorado from the Mexican state of
Chihuahua when he was 8 months
old, had watched lawmakers defeat
tuition bills over and over again, so
he wasn’t expecting much when he
attended the meeting where MSU
Denver trustees approved a new
tuition rate for students like him.

promised his mother he would get
for her the day she bought him his
high school ring and told him it was
OK if he didn’t continue.
“It’s not every man for himself
when it comes to my family, and
they all struggled and fought for
me to get where I was and to prep
me to go to college,” says Galvan, a
sophomore journalism major. “But
because of these laws, because of
these borders, because of these
restrictions, we were stopped.
We were stopped right after high
school. And she knew that.”
Galvan told her he would go on.

“I went to the board meeting, kind
of just going through the motions,”
says Galvan, 22. “For me it was just
a huge surprise.”
It meant Galvan could get closer
to a college diploma, which he

SPRING2013

Read the story of student Sonia
Gutierrez (pictured on the cover),
who will travel to Washington,
D.C., in May with MSU Denver
President Stephen Jordan for
lunch with first lady Michelle
Obama.

The new law means students like Galvan have more
college choices in the state. But Galvan says MSU
Denver remains one of his top options.

VICTOR GALVAN

24

LEARN MORE at
www.msudenver.edu/magazine.
Review background on the
Colorado High School/GED
Non-resident Tuition Rate.

“She deserves the chance to see
me walk, to give her my degree,”
he says. “She deserves all of that,
because she worked just as hard
as me.”

ONE GREAT
THING ABOUT
METRO IS
IT DOESN’T
DISCRIMINATE.
METRO HAS
REALLY BEEN
AVAILABLE TO
ALL STUDENTS,
AND THAT’S
WHY IT’S SUCH
AN OBVIOUS
OPTION FOR
SO MANY
PEOPLE.
IT’S REALLY
INCLUSIVE.
-Victor Galvan, Student

SARAHI HERNÁNDEZ ROMO
Sarahi Hernández Romo was 8 months old
when her family moved to Denver from the
Mexican state of Durango, but it wasn’t until
her junior year in high school when, while
starting to look at potential colleges, her
immigration status really hit her.
“I realized I wasn’t going to be able to pay
what my friends were paying. I would be
in class and everyone was filling out their
FAFSA and I couldn’t,” says Romo, 20, referring to the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid.
Although Romo had a scholarship to attend
St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood, Colo., for
middle school and high school, the Denver
resident had to commute up to 45 minutes
each way, sometimes taking an RTD bus.
She was on the verge of giving up during
her junior year. “There was a moment in that
year that I just came to the conclusion that I
might as well just drop out of school because
I wasn’t going to be able to afford [college],”
she says.
Her parents refused to let her quit, and her
mother saved enough money for Romo to
begin attending MSU Denver in fall 2011.
The lower tuition rate approved by MSU
Denver has allowed Romo to take more
classes and worry less about costs.
“My biggest dream is to graduate from
college,” says the junior human services
major, who wants to work with at-risk youth.
“Metro pretty much reinforced the fact that
I was going to be able to do that.”

MY BIGGEST
DREAM IS TO
GRADUATE
FROM
COLLEGE.
METRO
PRETTY MUCH
REINFORCED
THE FACT
THAT I WAS
GOING TO BE
ABLE TO DO
THAT.
-Sarahi Romo, Student

People
Bright Shining Lights
the

usti Gurule has been changing America one Latina
voter at a time. As director of the Denver-based
Latina Initiative, she helped double Latina voter turnout in Colorado and has aided more than 1,000 people
through U.S. citizenship classes.
For her efforts to help women voters to find their voice,
Gurule received the 2013 MSU Denver Making A Difference Award, presented by the Alumni Association.
Gurule is in exceptional company. Other 2013 Alumni
Association Award honorees include an awardwinning spoken-word poet, a corporate VP, and one of
the nation’s most popular artists.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Jerry Hilderbrand (B.S. accounting ’74) is a leading forensic accounting expert who has testified in more than 120 cases of fraud and theft.
Making A Difference Award
Dusti Gurule (B.A. Chicano studies ’96) has been nationally honored for her work to engage Latinas into voting and campaigning for
social and political issues.
The Giving Back Award
Rowena Alegría (B.A. Spanish ’91) serves as director of communications for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and previously served
as editor and publisher of The Denver Post’s "Viva Colorado."
Student Leadership Award
Molly Hurley (Class of 2013) plays a big part in the Student Alumni
Association’s significant success, regularly volunteering to staff
alumni events on campus.
Dean’s Honor Alumnus Award
Letters, Arts & Sciences
Malcolm Farley (B.A. art ’81) is renowned for his visions of color
and ability to capture the moment, action and spirit of an event in
his distinctive painting style.

“MSU Denver’s alumni are doing amazing things in
their communities and professions,” says Mark Jastorff,
Alumni Association executive director. “This year’s
award recipients truly reflect the best of Metropolitan
State University of Denver: They come from near and
far, they are making a difference in their world and all
proudly share their MSU Denver experience.”

READ MORE about the 2013 Alumni Association Award
winners and nominate an alum at www.msudenver.edu/
magazine/2013/peopleawards.
Dean’s Honor Alumnus Award
School of Business
Russell Noles (B.S. accounting ’81) is the senior vice president and
head of internal audit at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association
College Retirement Equities Fund.
Dean’s Honor Alumnus Award
School of Professional Studies
David Quinones (B.S. criminal justice ’85) serves as deputy chief
of operations for the Denver Police Department.
Distinguished Alumni Employee Award (posthumous)
Kate Lutrey (B.A. journalism ’88) started working at MSU Denver
in 1982 as business manager of the student newspaper and most
recently worked as director of student concierge services. She passed
away Nov. 6, 2012.
STATEment Maker Award
Bobby LeFebre (B.A. psychology ’04) is a social worker and an
award-winning spoken-word artist and actor with Denver’s only
Latino theater, El Centro Su Teatro.

THANK YOU
TO OUR ROADRUNNERS ATHLETICS SPONSORS
Auraria Campus Bookstore

Horizon Bus Lines

Brooklyn’s at the Pepsi Center

Hotel VQ

Credit Union of Denver

Red Robin BurgerWorks

Holiday Inn Lakewood

Tynan’s VW Nissan Kia

Holiday Inn Select Cherry Creek

26

SPRING2013

PHOTO DEIDRE BRUCKER

D

BOBBY LEFEBRE

STORY MINDY SINK | PHOTO EVAN SEMÓN

S

ometimes getting a degree is just the first step in
finding one’s purpose in life.

Jeff Martinez is the first to admit that his degree in
journalism and public relations from MSU Denver in
1995 did not foretell his current position as executive
director of Brothers Redevelopment Inc.
“I never made my living as a journalist,” he says. “I did
get a lot of experience at Metro in the public relations
vein, and it framed my career.”
Martinez left high school with a low GPA, so he was
ready to prove himself when he started college. “Opportunity led to transformation,” he says. “Metro’s j-school
faculty and college communications staff didn’t just
teach me to write press releases—they taught me how
to think strategically and challenge prevailing notions.
Doing so in my own career led me to look for an opportunity to better serve the community, which led me to
Brothers Redevelopment.”
After graduation Martinez, now 42, worked in public
affairs at Kaiser Permanente, as a public information
officer for the city of Aurora, and at private public
relations agencies in Denver. Brothers Redevelopment
became a client, and with his background in municipal
government, Martinez was able to quickly understand
the nonprofit's needs.
“I valued their mission, what they stood for and how
they went about helping people in the community,” he
says. “I told them, ‘One of these days, I’d love to come

and work for you.’ In 2006, they took me up on the offer.”
Brothers Redevelopment provides affordable housing
and home-related assistance to low-income, elderly,
and disabled Denver-area residents and homeowners.
“Here, we’re transforming the lives and perspectives
of the low-income, elderly and disabled residents who
seek our services,” he says. “Whether they’re looking for
help in maintaining or making their home safe, trying
to hold onto their home and prevent a foreclosure or
simply looking for some place they can call their home,
Brothers has the power to change their outlook by preserving their most important investment or providing
them some housing-related hope when they have no
place to turn for assistance.”
It was his exposure to the issue of affordable housing during his work in city government that Martinez
credits for his ability to understand complex federal
and state contracts for affordable housing.
“Knowing that we’re an agency of last resort for so many
people in need is something that energizes me. It’s also
the kind of challenge—and opportunity—that compelled
me to change my career path in the first place.”
MSU Denver students volunteer with Brothers
Redevelopment’s annual Paint-a-Thon (March
through September) in the nearby La Alma/Lincoln
Park neighborhood. LEARN MORE about Brothers
Redevelopment Inc. or get involved at
www.brothersredevelopment.org.

SPRING2013

27

People
Alumni News + Notes
the

1992

1980

1994

Ronnie Matterson (B.A. psychology ’71) of
Golden, Colo., was a teacher in Denver for 33
years; he continued as a substitute teacher
after retirement.

Christopher Daley (B.A. journalism ’80) is a
U.S. Navy veteran. Now retired, he enjoys
painting landscapes, still life, portraits, maritime, and air and space. Christopher resides
in Westford, Mass.

1984

Jeff Streeter (B.S. criminal justice ’84) has
been named chief of police for the city of
Lone Tree, Colo.

1985

Christine Capra Kramer (B.A. journalism ’85)
of Wheat Ridge, Colo., is program manager at
Horticulture Therapy Institute and co-editor
of the book “Horticultural Therapy Methods:
Making Connections in Health Care, Human
Services and Community Programs.” She
also is editor of the online newsletter “HT
Connections” and contributor to the Australian online magazine “Cultivating Wellness.”

1990

David Bloom (B.S. marketing and business
management ’90) is CEO and vice president of
Schlereth’s Green Chile Sauce, a company he
runs with former Denver Broncos player and
current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth. David
resides in Castle Rock, Colo.
Andrew Vara (B.S. accounting ’90) of Denver
is a senior accountant at High Sierra Energy,
a leading gatherer, transporter and marketer
of crude oil and natural gas liquids.

David McGrath (B.A. speech communications
’92) is vice president of marketing and promotions for New Hampshire Motor Speedway
in Loudon, N.H.

Dana McGrath (B.F.A. photography ’94) of
Greenwood Village, Colo., is a photographer
and owner of Dana McGrath Photography,
a boutique studio specializing in portraits,
weddings and corporate events.

1995

Walter Anthony Gillis (B.A. history ’95) of
Denver is owner of AG Consulting. He earned
an MBA at the University of Rochester in New
York. He is the author of three novels and is a
U.S. Air Force veteran. He married Alexandria
Jones in September 2012.
Megan Reyes (B.A. political science ’95) of
Golden, Colo., is division director for Jefferson County Human Services. She is a grandmother and mother of three sons who all are
either graduates or students of MSU Denver.

1999

Elizabeth Malagisi (B.S. computer information systems ’99) of Westminster, Colo., is IT
director at Emdeon Business Services. She
is looking forward to starting on her master’s
degree in the fall of 2013. Elizabeth says she
has come to love travel as part of her job and
hopes to schedule more non-business travel
in the future.
Linda Small-Sadler (B.S. human services ’99)
of Denver is a psychotherapist and owner of
Small-Sadler Counseling Services. She also
is a rhythm and blues singer.

Michael Wright (B.S. aviation management
’90) is chief technology officer at Denver
International Airport. He also is the chief
information officer for the City and County
of Denver, where he works with other MSU
Denver alumni.

28

SPRING2013

2001

2004

Judy George (B.S. management ’01) is vice
president of Kirby Co. of Denver. She also is
president of the MSU Denver Alumni Association board and has served on the Scholarship
Committee, the Plain and Fancy Ball Committee and the Foothills Animal Shelter board.

2005

William DeRooy (B.A. English ’01) is owner of
the company Intelligent Editing. He has edited
and proofread more than 100 nonfiction
books. He is married with a son and daughter; the family resides in Castle Rock, Colo.

Andy Nicholas (B.A. political science ’01) of
Santa Monica, Calif., works as a major-gift
coordinator for a homelessness services
organization. After graduating, Andy moved
to Australia, where he worked as an educational adviser within the U.S. Consulate
General’s office, participated in community
advocacy for Clover Moore (now Sydney’s
Lord Mayor), and studied at University of
Sydney, achieving a master’s degree in public policy.

2003

Aria Serena Vaughan (B.A. history ’04) is
a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund in New York. She graduated
with honors from MSU Denver and received a
law degree cum laude from Fordham.

Chase Young (B.A. behavioral science ’05) of
McKinney, Texas, is a second grade teacher.
He received a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Texas (UNT)
and obtained an M.S.Ed. from Walden University, specializing in literacy. He was named
teacher of the year in 2009 and in 2011 was
named UNT’s outstanding doctoral student
in reading and education.

2006

Jennifer Bridges (B.A. speech communication
’06) of Denver is senior account manager
for Digital Assets, a Web design company
that develops sites by blending information,
design, development and implementation.

Kimberly Angell (B.S. mathematics ‘03) of
Longmont, Colo., works as a mission supervisor for DigitalGlobe, an operator of commercial earth-imaging satellites. She is married
to Matt Angell (B.A. history ’05).
Timothy Garvey (B.A. sociology ’03) of Denver
is an associate attorney for Roberts Levin
Rosenberg. After graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2010,
Tim clerked for Judge A. Bruce Jones before
he became associate attorney.
Gary Landeck (B.A. English ’03) of Atchison,
Kan., was appointed by the governor of
Kansas to a three-year term on the Kansas
Information Network. He received his master’s degree from Emporia State University.
Gary is the director of the Atchison Public
Library.

PHOTO REEANNA LYNN HERNANDEZ

1971

2007

Yolanda Borders (B.S. computer information systems ’07) of Arvada, Colo., is a virtual
assistant who advises partners how to create
detailed spreadsheets from website analysis. She also was hired by Intuit (creators of
QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks and Turbo
Tax) to perform customer service consulting.
Zack Gaddy (B.S. computer information systems ’07) of San Antonio is creator of Lucky
Dad Media and the website coupondad.net.
The site has grown to more than 1.5 million
page views a month with more than 600,000
visitors.
Christian Snyder (B.A. political science ’07) is
director of Colorado Marrow Donor Program
for Bonfils Blood Center. He is a U.S. Navy veteran. Christian resides in Westminster, Colo.
Jennifer Strotman (B.S. biology ’07) is a
museum technician at the Smithsonian
Museum of Natural History. She is a U.S.
Army veteran and also has been an invertebrate zookeeper at the Butterfly Pavilion and
a caregiver at Best Friends Animal Society.
Jennifer resides in Brentwood, Md.

2009

Joanne Littau (B.A. speech communication
’09) of Denver is owner and president of
the nonprofit organization Gloves for Good,
which sends durable work gloves to people in
disaster areas such as the Waldo Canyon
Fire in Colorado.

2010

Desirae Garcia (B.A. speech communication
’10) of Westminster, Colo., is a franchise
owner at Juice Plus+. Desirae is engaged
to be married.
Don Harmon (B.S. finance ’10) is a personal
insurance adviser for Taggart Insurance and
has started his own real estate investment
business. He also supports local sports teams
and develops talent for FC Denver. Don
resides in Longmont, Colo.

SHARE YOUR NEWS

Email your class note to
[email protected]
or submit an update online at
www.msudenver.edu/magazine.

ROADRUNNERS, WHERE DO YOU ROAM?

BY LINDSEY DAY, ALUMNI CAREER SERVICES
The philosopher Heraclitus said, “There is nothing
constant except change.” Despite our best attempts at
building our dream lives, change remains an inevitable
part of life.
When a career transition is unwanted or unexpected, it
can leave you in a state of shock, limiting your ability
to bounce back and embrace change. It’s important to
take precautions before you need them. Invest in your
own career insurance policy to protect yourself from
unexpected change.

ASK YOURSELF REGULARLY IF YOU LIKE YOUR JOB

This may seem obvious, but the earlier you ask yourself
these questions the better.

KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS

Build a professional network in your industry, rather
than just at your company. These contacts will likely be
the first people you call in the event of a layoff.

DON’T GET STALE

Know how your company compares with your industry
as a whole. Your company may pay for your professional
development opportunities. If not, it’s easier to invest in
these opportunities when you have a steady income.

UPDATE YOUR RESUME 3-4 TIMES A YEAR

Sarah Sutherland (B.A. human development ’09) of
Denver is a psychotherapist in private practice working
primarily with children struggling with behavioral issues,
autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing
disorders. She earned an M.A. in clinical mental health
counseling from Argosy University in 2011. She enjoys
visiting campus, where she was involved in the Phi
Sigma Sigma sorority and worked as a research assistant.

Keep a master list of all your accomplishments so you
don’t forget them. Start learning new technologies like
LinkedIn. You never know when you will have to start
selling yourself.

Whether you roam afar or stick close to the nest, send us
a photo of yourself in your old Metro wear. If we publish
your image, we’ll send you some new MSU Denver gear.
Be sure to include your full name (including maiden
name), address, and degree or attendance information
with all submissions. Email your high-resolution digital
image to [email protected]

Many people come out of an unexpected job change in
a better position than they had before. Invest in your
career insurance policy so you can better embrace
change—planned or unplanned—when it inevitably
happens to you.

SAVE FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS OF UNEMPLOYMENT
If you don’t need it, great! But realize that job searches
can be lengthy, and searching in a state of financial
need may make you come across as desperate.

VISIT www.msudenver.edu/alumnicareers
for more information about Alumni Career Services at
MSU Denver.

SPRING2013

29

People
In Memory
the

Charles Branch, former dean of the
MSU Denver School of Education,
passed away on Feb. 11, 2013, after
a long illness. He was 83.
Branch started his professional life
at MSU Denver in 1978 as dean of
the School of Education. Over the
years he held several other leadership positions, including chair of
the Human Services Department,
coordinator of the Center for High
Risk Youth Studies and dean of the
School of Professional Studies. He
was a tenured professor of teacher
education and human services.
After retiring, he was named emeritus professor of education and
returned to the University several

Charles Branch

Ken Phillips

02.11.13

02.22.13

times as special assistant to the provost, an affiliate faculty member in
the Human Services Department
and as a volunteer on the Alumni
Relations History Project.

Ken Phillips, MSU Denver's first
president, passed away on Feb. 22,
2013, after a short illness. He was
residing in Pasadena, Calif., at the
time of his death at the age of 93.

"He just loved the place ... It was his
world," says his wife, Lucy, who
met Branch at the University. "He
just liked working, and that's why I
believe he kept going back."

Phillips began at MSU Denver before
it even opened its doors. He dedicated his time to promoting what
was then called Metropolitan State
College, and thanks in large part to
his efforts, 1,189 students registered
for the opening semester.

VISIT www.msudenver.edu/

magazine to read more about
Branch and to contribute in his
memory to the Charles Branch
Endowed Scholarship Fund at
MSU Denver.

Although Phillips resigned from
MSU Denver in 1972, his passion
for the University continued long
after retirement, and at the age
of 91 he shared his MSU Denver

experiences with the Alumni Relations History Project.
“He was a kind and gentle man
with tremendous enthusiasm for
the original mission of Metropolitan State, which was to provide an
affordable and excellent education
to badly underserved students in
the metropolitan area,” says History
Department Chair and Professor
Steven Leonard.

VISIT www.msudenver.edu/

magazine to read more about
President Phillips and to contribute in his memory to the University’s General Scholarship Fund.

THE
WHOLE
WIDE
WORLD
CAN
BE
YOUR
CLASSROOM.
JOIN MSU DENVER ALUMNI AND FRIENDS
ON THE JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME.

ITALY’S MAGNIFICENT LAKE DISTRICT > SEPT. 17-25, 2013
www.msudenver.edu/alumni/travel

W

hat to do after nearly two decades touring with a successful rock band? That’s
48-year-old Tom Payetta’s jam.

“Life without the band seems a little artificial,
because I did it for 18 years nonstop,” says the former
sound engineer with popular Denver band Opie Gone
Bad. (The band pulled the plug quietly on Jan. 1, 2013.)

STORY DOUG MCPHERSON | PHOTO EVAN SEMÓN

He certainly has options. But it’s unlikely you’d guess
what he’s thinking for an encore. It might be acting.
His last role was the clownish manservant Grumio in
Flaming of the Shrew. He’s played a doctor, a priest, a
haberdasher and a drunken housemaid. He caught the
theater bug in high school.
Or, he could play guitar in a new band. Payetta (BS
physics ’10), who grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, says
his first musical influence was his dad. “He was a jazz
drummer who made it seem fun and cool. He tried to
teach me drums and clarinet, but I ended up taking to
the guitar because rock ‘n’ roll was it.”
Yes, lots of options: maybe return to sound engineering
and make rock stars sound, well, like rock stars; be a
guitar rock star; become a star on stage or even fall back
on the physics degree he earned from MSU Denver and
study actual stars.
“I’m exploring options like that great gig in the sky as
a physicist or scientist … putting my degree and educational investment to work.”
Regardless of what his future holds, Payetta says his
past—the one at MSU Denver—“changed the game
for the better all around. I had amazing learning
experiences … I really discovered a lot of myself in the
process. And the challenge and the strife of being a
physics major made the whole band thing seem like a
beautiful, easy gift.”
His fondest memories of MSU Denver? “Getting to know
my professors and having access to their experience
and guidance. And doing late night observations of
active galactic nuclei, because I was so accustomed to
rock ‘n’ roll hours as a lifestyle, that was legitimate fun.”

SPRING2013

31

LISA MAILLE AND
DAUGHTERS JULIA (3)
AND ANGELA (8)

STORY DOUG MCPHERSON | PHOTO EVAN SEMÓN

T

his is more than a story of survival. It’s a story of
triumph and transformation in the face of the deepest despair imaginable.
In the fall of 2006, Lisa Maille’s life was rich and full:
She was working toward her marketing degree with a
loving husband and three kids. It was also when she
and her young family welcomed their newest member,
Gracia—healthy, happy and named for her husband’s
grandmother, Spanish meaning grace.

Maille began researching a niche that could nurture
her new life. She found that unless a child has a wellknown disease or illness such as cancer or heart disease,
sources of support are few.
She switched her major to nonprofit management, and
exactly two years after Gracia died, Maille opened For
the Love of Grace, a nonprofit that now fills that hole—
and honors Gracia.

Then change of the cruelest kind. At 10 weeks old, Gracia
was hospitalized with kidney failure and a respiratory
virus. During her six weeks in the hospital, other problems arose: strange eye movements, irregular heartbeats, swelling under her tongue. But still, no diagnosis.

The organization has helped 122 families throughout
Colorado with gifts of food, clothing, rent, utilities and
many other basic needs. While most of those families
are in the Denver metro area, the program’s reach has
extended as far as Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins,
Fort Morgan, Evans, Wiggins, Greeley, Craig and Delta.

Then a glimmer of hope: In her seventh week at the hospital, doctors thought the baby was stabilized enough to
return home. But she didn’t make it. At only 4 months
old, on Jan. 20, 2007, Gracia died.

For the Love of Grace raises money through fundraisers
and individual donations. Fundraisers have included
bake sales, craft fairs, garage sales, art shows—even
tea parties.

“The pain is far worse than anything I’d ever imagined,”
says Maille (B.A. nonprofit administration ’11). “You just
wish you could go back in time and hold her for one
more day. Losing a child is not something you ever get
over. Instead, it is a new way of life and a new way of
doing things.”

Maille’s advice for families with ill children: “Know
you’re not alone. There is someone who understands.
Connect with them. Know there are resources out there.
You’re strong enough to endure the hardships that come
along with having a seriously ill child. Just love them
for as long as you have them.”

A megaton bomb of grief detonated point-blank in
Maille’s heart. How to gather the pieces?
For Maille, the answer was faith. “I remember praying
and thanking God for the entire situation. I feel that one
of my purposes in life was to have her and lose her to
see what other families needed.”
32

SPRING2013

VISIT www.loveofgrace.org to

learn more about For the Love of
Grace and get involved.

Non-Profit Org.
U.S. Postage
PAID
Permit 2965

Metropolitan State University of Denver
Campus Box 14
P.O. Box 173362
Denver, CO 80217

Chrysalis
Charcoal on paper, detail
Image courtesy of
Sandra Phillips Gallery

Colorado artist Anna Kaye, a former drawing professor at MSU Denver, explores transformation
in a series of landscape drawings that emphasize fire as an impetus for change. “As the butterfly
drifts, its large, majestic wings diminish the violence of the distant fire. Its proximity to the
fire also heightens the butterfly's vulnerable attraction to the intense light,” Kaye says of
Chrysalis. “Whether the butterfly is escaping the fire or moving towards it, Chrysalis presents a
transformation. The fire is a cocoon for the new landscape.” Kaye’s Interwoven, another image
in the series, is part of the MSU Denver collection on display in the Student Success Building.

Denver, CO

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