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Maverick Momentum From Day One

President John Marshall launches into key priorities on day one

John Marshall’s first day as president of Colorado Mesa University was one of renewed focused on the power of human relationships to further build CMU into a model of excellence and innovation in higher education.

Early on July 1, Marshall joined nearly 200 members of the campus community to kick off his first day. He personally met with individuals from facilities to finance and custodial to campus safety as well as faculty from academic and technical departments and programs.


“Solving the complex problems facing Colorado, higher education — and arguably our entire nation — requires building, growing and leaning on a diverse team,” Marshall noted to colleagues during the first event of the day. “We need, I need, to hear your diverse perspectives and opinions to ensure that CMU continues to be relevant and innovative for students, families, employers and the region.”

Coffee with colleagues launched an extensive day of conversations focused on key priorities and critical issues that require talented teams and out-of-the-box thinking.  

Marshall’s first formal meeting of the day was with Aaron Reed (pictured above), a senior majoring in mass communication and media strategies, previous director of the student-led Cultural Inclusion  Council and the 2021-22 student trustee. Their conversation centered around issues of inclusion and ensuring ways that the president, his senior leadership team and faculty can continually improve the student experience.

“We had an interesting conversation, and I can’t wait to see the communication and transparency he brings this year,” said Reed.

To continue his focus on communication and transparency, President Marshall connected by telephone with Faculty Senate President David Collins, PhD, and professor of physics. Marshall began exploration of a potential faculty advisory committee to ensure diverse perspectives reach his desk and inform critical decisions on strategic initiatives.

Marshall then convened the cross-campus enrollment management team with new Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Kim Medina, to launch the first of ongoing conversations about strategic ways CMU will continue growing enrollment and raising the educational attainment level in the region and across Colorado.

For Marshall, and the entire university, growing enrollment comes second to ensuring that every Maverick feels welcome, safe and valued as a member of the campus community. 

As Vice President for Student Services, Marshall spent years working with Associate Professor of Psychology Nikki Jones, PhD, on safety, inclusivity and wellness. That conversation continued during President Marshall’s first day in office.


“Ensuring every student feels safe and accepted on campus is a top university priority, which is why ongoing conversations like these are important,” Marshall said. “These discussions will help inform and shape university policies, procedures and programming.”

Jones will assist the President’s Office and the Student Services team with analyzing prior institutional data and launching new studies that will inform initiatives for creating an optimum campus climate, preventing sexual assault and improving overall wellness among students.

“My story is not unlike a lot of students. I came to this school right out of high school at 18 years old,” said Marshall. “The relationships I made with my teammates, classmates and professors changed the trajectory of my life. That’s where it all started and that’s why I’m so passionate about the work we do on this campus.”

Another relationship which has always been a priority for CMU is with the larger community. With their support, the campus is stronger and students are more prepared for their future endeavors. To build on an already great partnership, Marshall met over lunch with leaders from Grand Junction and Mesa County. Chair of the Board of County Commissioners Janet Rowland, City Manager Greg Caton, County Administrator Pete Bair and Grand Junction Mayor Chuck McDaniel joined Marshall at Hotel Maverick’s restaurant the Devil’s Kitchen.


The group had a wide range of conversations covering everything from economic development to workforce planning to ways CMU can give back to the municipalities that have so graciously worked alongside the university throughout the years.

“Whether it’s scholarships or key investments in helping our campus grow, both  Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction have answered the call time and time again when it comes to supporting CMU students,” Marshall said. “Our local government partners are major employers in their own right so we need to lean in and actively listen to what they need from us as well.”

Following lunch, Marshall convened the university’s critical incident team to continue the conversation on campus safety. 

critical incident meeting

The group discussed several priority safety protocols including cybersecurity and response to critical incidents that may occur on campus, and ways in which technology can assist the university’s efforts.

In addition to using technology to advance safety protocols, CMU and WCCC continue to be committed to the advancement of technology in the classroom. Marshall toured the Sturm-ANB Bank Mobile Learning Lab and met with the program lead to learn more about the lab’s unique capabilities. Technical Instructor of Mechatronics Josh Pertile demonstrated the 53-foot-long, 8-foot-wide state-of-the-art mobile classroom, which offers mechatronics courses to high school students, adult learners and employees enrolled in company training. mllmarshall.jpg

“Career and technical education are critical to this region, which is why we’ve dedicated a good amount of our resources to these fields,” said Marshall. “The Mobile Learning Lab is a perfect example of the innovative thinking that we do in order to serve our immediate area, rural communities of all sizes and the state of Colorado.”

Marshall rounded out his first day as president with members of the Alumni Association Board, the CMU Foundation Board as well as a few members of the Board of Trustees including Trustee Chair Alison Griffin.

img_0090cmunow.jpgMarshall, an alumnus, started his journey at CMU 24 years ago, and reflected on his own path to today.

“Never in 1,000 years would I have predicted that lanky kid who showed up on this campus all those years ago would one day be leading it,” he said. “Many of our alumni were the first in their families to go to college. Many came from families with limited financial resources or from challenging backgrounds. It’s higher education, and specifically CMU’s faculty, staff and resources, that have helped change the trajectory of countless students’ and their families’ lives,” he added.  



“This has been a humbling experience and it’s only the beginning,” Marshall said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity and am prepared to continue this hard, but important, work.”

Marshall — who was named president on April 29, 2021, following a comprehensive and competitive nationwide search by the CMU Board of Trustees — officially began in his role July 1, 2021. He holds an open office hour on Mondays at 2pm and may be reached at [email protected].


Written by Staff