An Extraordinary Year

It is difficult to capture the past year in a word or a phrase. The convergence of two extraordinary historical events has spurred change and has shone a bright light on the need for systemic shifts that address long-standing social justice issues. A global pandemic has changed the basic ways in which we engage with one another and the ways in which we teach, learn, serve our community and conduct research. Our country is also in the midst of a long overdue renewed national movement for racial justice, which has challenged all of us to examine the ways in which we can affect meaningful and systemic change and address social injustice. The challenges are complicated and complex.

Higher education, and its role in the community, is in flux, but the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) is ready and committed to an approach that prioritizes impact and embraces the reality that we can and must always strive to do better. Now is the time for higher education to rise to the challenge by growing its capacity to play a unique public intellectual role in service to the community. Due to the rapidly evolving landscape, colleges must be nimble, reflective and responsive. MCE is ideally suited to make a difference in this new era. Not only do we have a unique set of assets and resources that lend particularly well to addressing relevant societal issues and to preparing students for a dynamic professional landscape, we also are home to a cadre of committed social change agents.

This year began with the implementation of our strategic plan, Impact Morgridge, and confirmed that as societal issues become increasingly complex and more challenging to address through one-size-fits-all approaches, we must utilize an intersystems approach to pave the way for breakthroughs on longstanding, multidimensional problems. We created and implemented interdisciplinary courses and curricula to prepare our students to work in industries that require a collaborative approach in order to meet the needs of those they serve. We coalesced as committed teachers and scholars to build upon our momentum and passion, creating new knowledge that extends further into the community. We also spent time focusing inward. We challenged ourselves to re-examine our values and actions, and committed to a path of social justice.  

Dr. Karen Riley and faculty and staff from MCE volunteer at the Food Bank of the Rockies at the Morgridge College of Education’s Volunteer Day.

At the core of our mission is a strong commitment to creating meaningful social change that is rooted in deep, reciprocal relationships with our community. Our goal is to improve the human condition and improve the lives of others who are marginalized in society.

This challenging year confirmed my previous statements; the strength and determination of the MCE community is unparalleled. I am honored to lead this team and humbled by their resolve, creativity and laudable accomplishments. It is clear that we have enjoyed remarkable success, have much work to do and are committed to an ambitious path forward. The MCE community has the ability to exemplify the valuable civic actor role that an institution of higher education plays in society by uniting systems in meaningful ways to address problems, influence policies and create systemic change.

Thank you for your continued support and for joining us on this journey.

Dr. Karen Riley
Dean and professor, Morgridge College of Education
University of Denver

A message from Morgridge College alumni to recent 2020 graduates

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