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Women’s College dean steps down

photo portrait

Michele “Mike” Bloom

Michele “Mike” Bloom’s odyssey as the dean of the Women’s College at the University of Denver will come to an end as she steps down at the end of the year.

“Mike has had such a strong and pure vision for the Women’s College and for the transformation of women’s lives through education,” says Lorni Sharrow, who will become interim dean of the Women’s College after Bloom resigns on Dec. 31. “Through the Women’s College, she realizes this vision every day.”

During her time at the University, Bloom ushered the school through a variety of milestones, including the evolution of the Women’s College from DU’s Weekend College and the creation of the Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women at DU.

A native of Alabama, Bloom completed her undergraduate work in speech therapy. When she moved to Colorado in 1968, she received a fellowship to study education at DU. After graduating with a master’s degree in education she embarked on a career in the mental health system, taking her from Colorado to Alaska and New York. She returned to Colorado to work in hospital administration. 

In 1989, she became director of the Master of Health Care Systems program at DU’s University College, where she worked her way to the position of associate dean.

She took the helm of the Weekend College in 1992. At the time, the school was housed in DU’s College of Business. Under her leadership, the Weekend College became the Women’s College at DU, a nod to its roots in the Colorado Woman’s College.

When the University sold its Park Hill campus, Bloom led a campaign to build a new facility for the Women’s College on the University Park campus.

“I had been having conversations with the Woman’s Foundation about the possibility of building a new kind of facility to serve women in the community,” Bloom says. “This presented a perfect opportunity.”

Bloom led a five-year fundraising campaign, raising nearly $10 million dollars for the center. The Chambers Center — housing the Women’s College, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Higher Education Resource Service — opened in the fall of 2004. Bloom was involved in every phase of the planning and construction process, including helping select the art and interior furnishings.

“The fundraising and building process was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences during my time with the Women’s College,” Bloom says. “I had never done anything like this before, and it was a huge learning experience.”

The Women’s College offers liberal arts bachelor’s degree programs in a weekend class format. Most students attend on a part-time basis and within five years complete their bachelor’s degree in business, communication, information technology studies or law and society. 

“The experience of knowing these women and learning their stories has been intensely moving,” Bloom says. “Knowing that the work we do has made a difference in their lives is so rewarding.”

The 1000th woman graduated from the Women’s College in 2006 — a milestone that Bloom says signaled the completion of a stage of her life.

“I’m satisfied with the fulfillment of my vision, and I’m ready for a new vision for the rest of my life,” she says.

An avid bird enthusiast, Bloom has traveled the world observing new species. She plans to continue her travels and will work with the Colorado Audubon Society to create a nature center at the site of the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal. She also plans to further develop her interest in botanical drawing. 

After her retirement, Bloom will stay on with the Women’s College for a year to serve as an adviser to the new dean. She will also work to organize the school’s archives. 

A local search committee was formed to hire Bloom’s replacement. Applications were accepted until Nov. 17. Administrators hope to fill the position by Jan. 1, 2007.

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