Mesa State hires as campus grows, enrollment soars

Mesa State College has created 83 positions in the past four years — the largest growth rate of any public college or university in Colorado.

The 16 percent job growth correlates with an enrollment increase of 17 percent and a 40 percent boost in the square footage of college facilities over the past four years, according to Mesa State spokeswoman Dana Nunn.

“With the kind of enrollment growth we had last year, we had to hire some adjunct faculty,” Nunn said, referring to faculty in part-time positions.

Last year, 6,261 students attended the college. Enrollment is around 6,700 students so far this year.

The school also hired additional custodial and maintenance workers to deal with new and remodeled buildings on campus.

The college opened a new residence hall in 2006, finished a new academic classroom building in 2007 and opened another new residence hall in August. It completed a renovation of the Moss Performing Arts Center last month and continues work on Saunders Fieldhouse, Wubben Hall and a new student center and parking garage.

Some new jobs already have been created for buildings in progress, such as Wubben and Saunders, but will not be filled until construction ends later this school year.

At least part of the money for new jobs has come from having more students enrolling and paying tuition, Nunn said.

The state budgeted Mesa State College for 474.8 full-time equivalent employees in 2008.

The state’s estimate is purely informational and close but not always on target, according to Pat Doyle,  vice president of finance for Mesa State.

The actual number turned out to be 465.7 full-time equivalent employees at Mesa State last year.

The state estimated the college would have 508.9 full-time equivalent employees in 2009. Of course, not every job at Mesa State is full-time, so the actual employee count is higher.

One of Mesa State’s newest hires is Derek Wagner, who became acting director of strategic initiative a few weeks ago, according to Nunn.

The position requires Wagner to assist college President Tim Foster with “special projects” within college operations, Nunn said.

No other candidates were interviewed for the job because it is an interim position, Nunn said.

Andy Breckel and Pat Hampton previously held the position in a job-sharing partnership. Both men have retired.

Wagner worked for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., from 2001 to 2007 as a constituent caseworker and then area director.

The college has a history of hiring former political workers and those connected to them. Wagner’s co-workers at the college include Vice President of Student Services John Marshall, who ran Republican Bob Beauprez’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006, and Acting Director of Development Kristi Pollard, the sister of Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, and a former Chevron spokeswoman.

Former Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, worked for the college as an interim assistant budget officer, a position he assumed in 2004. And, Penry’s wife, Jamie, worked for the college as assistant to the director of development before taking a job at Grand Junction High School a couple years ago.

Foster served as executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education from 1999 to 2004 under Gov. Bill Owens before becoming president of Mesa State in March 2004.


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