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Thursday Churn: Metro mulls new name

Updated 10:40 a.m.Steve Jordan, president of Metropolitan State College of Denver, will host a public meeting next Wednesday to provide details and gather comment on changing the college’s name.

Along with the current name, three possible new names ere being considered – Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Central Colorado and Denver State University.

College officials have been studying the issue for a year. “The trustees see the value and benefits that could accrue to students and alumni, were the college to vote to change its name to something that would increase its stature within the community,” said trustee chair Rob Cohen.

The college also has a branding firm testing the names through a survey, individual interviews and focus groups with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community and business leaders.

An assessment conducted last spring by the firm, Sector Brands, found the current name does not reflect Metro’s quality, size and complex offerings and that there’s confusion about whether Metro is a community college or a four-year institution. But, some respondents expressed concern that a name switch might signal a change in the college’s mission.

Jordan has initiated a number of key changes at Metro, including hiring more tenure-track faculty, adding three master’s programs and working to attract and retain more first-generation and minority students.

Jordan also has raised questions about continuation of the Auraria Higher Education Center, the separate entity that manages the downtown campus for Metro, CU-Denver and Community College of Denver.

As higher education has become more competitive and as state funding of state colleges has declined, some of those colleges have become more sensitive about branding and marketing issues. The University Colorado just completed a lengthy branding project around its “CU” logo, and the University of Northern Colorado recently has been running television ads seeking to attract students.

The public meeting will be from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus.

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What’s churning:

The Colorado School Finance Project, which has long tracked state school spending compared to other states, has crunched some new numbers, based on 2008 data included in the recent Quality Counts report by Education Week.

Among other things, the project found that Colorado was $1,683 per pupil below the national average in 2008 compared to $1,919 in 2007. The data listed Colorado per-pupil expenditures at $9,914 in 2008. The project’s website has four graphs illustrating the trends from 2003 to 2008.

The data may be of primarily historical interest now, given the beating that school spending took in Colorado and across the nation in 2009 and 2010. And the connection between amounts of school spending and educational quality is hotly debated in education circles.

The advocacy group Stand for Children has named 10 winners in its “Our Heroes” contest, designed to spotlight some of the state’s top teachers. See the winners and what their nominators said about them.

Padres & Jovenes Unidos is tackling middle school reform. The Denver nonprofit worked with CU-Denver’s Center for Education Policy Analysis to prepare the 40-page “road map for success” for Denver Public Schools, released Wednesday. You can read the full report here or see the executive summary in English or Spanish. A middle school reform meeting is scheduled Saturday. See details.

What’s on tap:

The Denver school board holds a focus on achievement session starting at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St., followed by a meeting at 7:45 p.m. with a sole agenda item – discussion and vote on proposed Innovation Act policy guidelines. Here’s the agenda.

The Jefferson County school board meets at 6 p.m. at the district education center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, Golden. The agenda includes contract renewals for two charter schools, Compass Montessori and New America School.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • Falcon turmoil: Superintendent quits as district debates innovation plans. The Gazette
  • Lone Star tarnished: Texas schools facing deep cuts. EdWeek
  • Enrollment boom: New DOE report details for-profit colleges’ high enrollment, low grad rates. Inside Higher Ed