Remarks at Denver Mayoral Runoff Forum

April 24, 2023

Good evening. I’m Michelle Marks, chancellor of CU Denver. And I’m honored to welcome you to the University of Colorado Denver.

We’re proud to partner with the Denver Foundation, the Open Media Foundation, and CBS Colorado to present the City of Denver’s 2nd Mayoral Runoff Forum, featuring the two top candidates from the April 4 city election: Kelly Brough, a CU Denver alum, and Mike Johnston.

CU Denver has educated students for more than 100 years. In 1973, we became a standalone campus, right here in the heart of Denver. And as I look back during this 50th anniversary year, our growth and progress as Colorado’s only public urban research university has been inextricably linked with Denver’s own growth and progress.

We’ve educated more than 110,000 graduates to help shape and lead this city, including Denver’s mayor these last 12 years, Michael B. Hancock, who earned a master’s degree from CU Denver in 1995. The efforts of CU Denver’s students, faculty, and staff will have a huge influence on Denver’s success going forward.

All across CU Denver, we’re making Education Work for All by providing flexible, career-connected programs to fuel Denver’s future workforce, conducting innovative research and forging partnerships to address urban challenges like housing, health, and sustainability, and promoting equity and closing outcome gaps: more than half our undergraduates are students of color. Our work makes CU Denver a perfect convener for this important mayoral forum.

There are so many important questions for our candidates to consider. And because these questions are so fundamental to our future, we’ll hear four questions in this forum from CU Denver students who will lead that future.

Some of them represent our School of Public Affairs: one of America’s top 30 public affairs schools, and home to a new Center for Policy and Democracy that will help us better understand how policies and politics impact major issues facing society.

Denver’s future relies on higher education. We’re fortunate to share the Auraria Higher Education Campus with Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver. Together, we are Denver’s educational and workforce development engine.

Our three institutions have a combined 40,000 students, 5,000 faculty and staff, 200,000-plus alumni—most of whom stay in Colorado—and annual economic impact of $1.8 billion. I’d like to acknowledge CCD President Marielena DeSanctis, MSU Denver President Janine Davidson and Auraria Campus CEO Colleen Walker for their partnership.

But our impact goes far beyond that. Higher education institutions are where big ideas begin, and where they’re debated and tested to help us chart the right path forward together. We’ll see these principles in action on this stage tonight. Thank you for attending this evening’s forum.

Michelle Mark signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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