New CMU president taking first steps in right direction

John Marshall has some proverbially big shoes to fill as the new president of Colorado Mesa University. But he’s taking his first steps are in the right direction.

Marshall will succeed Tim Foster, who in his 17-year tenure oversaw remarkable growth at CMU by nearly every measure. 

Between 2004 and 2019, student enrollment grew 63 percent to 9,373. The number of certificates, associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees conferred a year more than doubled to 1,939. The Grand Junction campus itself has expanded with the construction of new classroom buildings, student housing and other facilities. Even the name of the institution changed from college to university.

To use yet another idiom, that’s a tough act to follow. Marshall is positioned to perform well, though. He’s worked at CMU since 2007, first as director of development, then vice president for student services. Add to that the considerable responsibilities involved in leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing students back to campus for in-person instruction. Marshall is thoroughly familiar with the varied efforts that go into operating CMU.

Marshall is familiar with CMU in yet another way as a student who received a bachelor’s degree there in political science. His experiences as a student, he says, were transformational, one shaped by people who took an interest in him and his future.

In an interview with the Business Times, Marshall asserted his commitment to sustain that culture, an environment that’s at once educationally invigorating, but also nurturing.

Students should come first, of course. But Marshall also realizes the important role CMU plays in developing the work force and driving the regional economy.
By one estimate CMU contributes nearly $540 million annually to the economy of a 14-county area of Western Colorado. It’s a responsibility CMU — and Marshall — must take seriously.

Marshall has some big shoes to fill. But it appears CMU will be in good hands.