CU Denver Welcomes Michelle Marks as New Chancellor

July 1, 2020

Marks’ first 10 days will focus on equity, racial injustice as part of 100 Days of Listening campaign

The University of Colorado Denver today welcomes Michelle Marks, PhD, as its new chancellor. Marks previously served as the vice president for academic innovation and new ventures at George Mason University in Virginia and assumes her new position as CU Denver’s chancellor today.

“Michelle Marks is a proven, visionary leader with an excellent track record of fostering student success. She has an innovative mindset that will help the campus make strides serving its students, the community, and state,” CU President Mark Kennedy said. “She also has a deep commitment to the diversity that is a hallmark of CU Denver. We are thrilled to have her join the CU family.”

Marks will succeed Dorothy Horrell, who retired in June after serving as chancellor for nearly five years.

Today, Marks announced the launch of a 100 Days of Listening campaign, to hear from the CU Denver community about the university’s values, culture, programs, partnerships, what’s working well and what can be improved. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers, donors, partners, and other members of the Denver community are invited to share their perspectives either in virtual meetings or through an online form.

The first 10 days of listening will focus on equity, with a particular emphasis on racial justice. After that the discussion will be broadened to other topics. In October, after the 100 Days of Listening, Marks will report back on what she’s learned. She plans to use the conversations as the basis of charting CU Denver’s future plans.

One of higher education’s leading innovators, Marks has the business acumen of an experienced senior administrator with the spirit of an academic. She is known for developing innovative programs that help students succeed, attract new student populations, facilitate research opportunities, and drive new revenue growth. Marks has extensive experience in the academic arena, having previously served as Mason’s vice provost for academic affairs and associate provost for graduate education. As a professor of management in George Mason’s School of Business, her research focused on organizational leadership development and teamwork. She has published studies illustrating the dynamic nature of the collaborative processes used by organizational teams and the critical roles of team leaders.

At George Mason, her successes included launching a nationally acclaimed program to help students from racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse families earn four-year degrees; stewarding six- and seven-figure gifts to advance scholarships and programs; reversing a graduate enrollment decline through an institution-wide initiative to launch quality online programs; and creating a more culturally diverse student body and generating significant new revenues by growing international enrollment and turning a university hotel into a global center.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as chancellor of one of the nation’s leading public urban research universities,” Marks said. “CU Denver plays a unique role in furthering the vibrancy of the city and community and I’m thrilled to join the team doing great work to that end.”

In addition to her work in academia, Marks has deep experience in bolstering public-private partnerships with higher education institutions. She developed P3-EDU, an annual invite-only conference that brings together a select group of private company CEOs and university leaders, in 2018. Discussion topics for this year’s event include the potential financial and academic risks of public-private partnerships, partnerships as a catalyst for change management, the university and the future of work, and more.

“CU Denver has incredibly strong community ties,” Marks said. “I look forward to strengthening these while also fostering new collaborations with the city of Denver, employers, and other educational institutions”

Marks earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University and a master’s and doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology, both from George Mason University.

In addition to her chancellor role, Dr. Marks is also a tenured professor in CU Denver’s Business School.