Paulsen always focusing on making the grade

Filed under: One on One |

Marijane Paulsen passed up an opportunity to retire to accept the position of president and CEO of Colorado Technical University.

From the time she was a toddler, education has squarely been in Marijane Paulsen’s sights.

In August, she passed up an opportunity to retire and accepted the position of president and CEO of Colorado Technical University, a job that calls for her to be responsible for the education of 16,000 students on six campuses.

Paulson said she is fascinated by education because she believes learning provides possibilities and pathways for students, and because the result of learning is more than acquiring college credits or degrees. Learning, she says, is about the ability to consider, evaluate, value and make choices.

Paulsen took time recently to tell CSBJ about herself and her business.

Organization: Colorado Technical University

Position: CEO/president

Hometown: Raised in Benson, Ariz.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Sixteen years – and I have loved every day!

Education: Doctoral degree from University of Southern California; master’s degree from Whittier College; bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.

A few words about your company: Colorado Technical University is celebrating its 40th anniversary. We have four curricular divisions, including engineering/technology; computer science; business administration/management/criminal justice; and health sciences. Our degrees include the two-year associate, in addition to traditional bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Recent accomplishments: Successful development of several new programs for students, including the bachelor’s degree in nursing, which allows students with an RN license to complete their bachelor degree; our new bachelor’s degree in computer security; our new enterprise information systems concentration in our doctorate in computer science; a new master’s degree in e-learning and instructional technology and our evolving use of the Executive Format for a number of master’s degrees.

Biggest career break: Spending my life in education – I’m fortunate to be working in an area that I love and that has such an impact on students and the communities they live in.

The toughest part of your job: The non-ending stream of e-mails and the lack of time to spend more time with people.

Someone you admire: So many people have been an inspiration to me, and it is difficult to select just “someone.” My parents are the two people who stand out most in my life.

About your family: Remarkable parents – Jay and Mabel Axtell – who provided a home filled with love and wonder and possibilities for the future.

I have an older sister, Dr. Kay Dean, who has always been my best friend.

And I’ve acquired a great family as well. I married a Danish immigrant, Paul Paulsen, 33 years ago. His son, Arne, our Thai daughter-in-law Dawn, and 11-year-old grandson Agassi are a source of great joy.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: To become a better horseback rider. I have a magical 6-year old Tennessee Walker named “Tovarich” which is Russian for “companion.” I’ve ridden almost my entire life, but am not as good at it as I would like to be.

How your business will change in the next decade: Higher education is undergoing dynamic change – new ways of teaching for learning; new curricula to offer; new professions to help people prepare for.

We will be doing much more “just in time” not “just in case” learning, I believe, and “life-long learning” will become more and more a necessity and an opportunity.

What book are you currently reading? I just finished “Blink” by the author of “The Tipping Point.” I am reading “The First Crusade,” “The World is Flat,” and a new biography of Abraham Lincoln.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I wake up every morning, look at Pikes Peak, and think how very fortunate I am to live in this community. We are surrounded by natural beauty; dynamic and caring residents; opportunities for personal and professional growth; and diverse communities to provide us with cosmopolitan cultures.

I hope the notion of “stewardship” of these remarkable attributes is important to each one of us who live here.