An evolutionary education

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Alumni Network, Spring 2021 | 0 comments

Tom Jorden '80

Board of Trustees Chairman
President and CEO,
Cimarex Energy Co.

Tim Haddon '70

President and CEO,
International Natural Resources Management

Charlie McNeil '71

Chairman and CEO,
NexGen Resources Corporation

Patty Starzer '83

Bonanza Creek Energy

Mines alumni have always played an important role in shaping the university’s future, but a select few have made that role official as members of Mines’ Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for developing and approving the school’s mission, strategic goals and objectives—no small task for the seven voting and two nonvoting members that make up Mines’ board. At least four Mines alumni serve on the board at a time—a unique structure among Colorado universities—helping guide the university’s future and maintain the value of a Mines degree.

We spoke with four trustees—past and present—about the role Mines alumni play on the board and the values they work to uphold to ensure the school and its students find success long into the future. Here’s what they shared.

Mines alumni have a unique perspective on the Oredigger experience that drives them to ensure others have a similar—and even better—student experience.

Although they graduated in different years, the alumni serving on the board share a common Mines experience, developing the values and skill set most Orediggers share. And with such a large alumni representation on Mines’ Board of Trustees, those values are always in focus.

Alumni trustees have skin in the game, said current trustee Patty Starzer ’83. “The Mines alumni on the board have a unique connection to the school—we have a realistic connection in that we know what it’s like to be a student there,” she explained.

Former trustee Charlie McNeil ’71 agreed. “We have a common bond that gets developed when you go to Mines that’s like family,” he said. “I think that’s where having Mines alumni on the Board of Trustees is good—it’s very unique that we have that ability, because we want to keep Mines that special place and carry it into the future.”

This lived experience allows the alumni trustees to identify the aspects of the Mines experience
that work well and what needs to be improved.

“The advantage of having Mines graduates is that they’ve been through the experience—they know what’s good and what’s bad and are able to improve the institution and the student experience,” said former trustee Tim Haddon ’70. “The outcomes speak for themselves.”

Success starts with close connections to industry and foreseeing what will be needed in the workforce in the near and far term.

All major decisions made by the Board of Trustees are intended to give students a leg up while providing industry with the skills necessary for innovation today. Since Mines’ beginnings, the school has focused on giving students the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, while providing industry with the top talent to meet demand. As those demands have shifted over the years, the Board of Trustees—and the alumni voices within—have focused on making sure Mines graduates were able to not only meet but exceed those expectations.

“The beauty of Mines has always been its closeness to the marketplace. Mines has always educated a student that is a problem-solver, has great analytical skills, is flexible in the way they think about problems—those are the core values and skills that are broadly applicable,” said Chairman Tom Jorden ’80. “As the business climate has changed and new industries have come to the floor, Mines—just by shifting their weight—has been able to take those core educational values and funnel students into industries that didn’t exist when I was an undergraduate. It’s caused us to identify and seek to preserve the strengths that have always been at the heart of Mines.”

“I think it’s important to recognize that there is always going to be some transition, and we want Mines to be at the forefront of supporting our students so they are equipped to meet industry needs, whether it be energy, computer science, astrophysics, chemistry or even the biomedical field,” Starzer said. “The goal is service and giving back and truly wanting the university to be the best it can be.”

Ultimately, the goal is helping Mines evolve while remaining true to the university’s roots.

“Mines has really evolved over the years,” Jorden said. “That evolutionary perspective has given us the wisdom to encourage ongoing evolution. We see that we can have traditions—they can be anchoring but not limiting—and that mindset has really done a tremendous job of changing Mines with a changing world. I expect Mines to be at the forefront and continue to adapt.”