President Bruce Benson's newsletter

A message from President Bruce Benson

November 2017

Dear Alumni and Friends,

When our health sciences operations and the University of Colorado Hospital moved to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus beginning in 2004, we expected the campus build-out to take some 50 years. It took about a dozen, and we’re still building.

If you’ve been there, you know it’s a marvel – a square mile at the confluence of education, clinical practice and research that creates a city of health that is among the world’s best. Few academic medical centers have all their core activities on one site.

The footprint of the campus is already near capacity, and now we are looking toward development of the biosciences park that borders the north edge of CU Anschutz, now known as the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. Yet even as we grow, we also embrace something critical to CU since our founding 141 years ago – a sense of community.

Our four campuses are communities within themselves, in addition to being part of the larger University of Colorado and the communities they call home.

When CU was founded in 1876, residents of Boulder not only lobbied lawmakers in Denver to locate the university at the base of the Flatirons, they also put up their own money to make it happen. CU Boulder and the town’s fortunes have been intertwined ever since, and they have grown up together. We need to ensure that all our campuses are communities.

More than 50 years ago, David Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame joined community leaders to push to make CU’s Colorado Springs extension a full-fledged campus to meet the needs of his company and the region. Today, the campus is an integral part of the city and southern Colorado, with extensive partnerships. The campus expanded to a previously rundown section of north Nevada Avenue, sparking a remarkable renewal of the area.

Adding residence and dining halls, a student recreation center and other amenities really increased the sense of campus as community. Growth is more than adding buildings; it is fostering a sense of place.

Likewise, CU’s Denver extension became an official campus 45 years ago, and its growth reflects the growth and vibrancy of the burgeoning city. CU Denver is one of the premier urban universities in the country. Yet it was students who added to the sense of campus community in recent years by doing things such as selecting a mascot and adding cheerleaders. They also approved a fee to build a student wellness center that will open next year to complement the relatively new Campus Commons building that acts as a town hall.

The CU School of Medicine’s roots reach back more than a century to Boulder, before it moved to Denver to serve more patients and train more health care professionals. Since moving from Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard in Denver, it has become a lynchpin of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

And as we expand that campus, we are keenly aware of ensuring the sense of community that has been a hallmark of CU for nearly a century and a half. Having clinical care, research and education on one campus is a bonus for CU and Coloradans, but we are cognizant of the need to build community.

We are partnering with Aimco and other developers to grow our community on the borders of the campus. While research towers and state-of-the-art hospitals are critical, so too are affordable student housing, hotels for people seeking treatment and their families, and robust retail and restaurants. Even something like a planned faculty club contributes to that sense of community.

And then there’s the broad sense of a health community that comes from partnerships among CU, Children’s Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado Hospital and the soon-to-open VA Hospital. It’s a health community different from any in the country.

We even look far beyond our campuses to foster communities. Our CU for Colorado program showcases the nearly 300 programs and services we offer to communities large and small across our state. From water quality testing to pre-collegiate prep programs to business development, CU is an engine that touches communities everywhere.

One of the great things about our university is that we have been part of the fabric of our state and its communities for more than 140 years. We’re here to stay, and even as we grow and expand, we are mindful of the sense of community that makes our campuses, as well as the cities they call home and the places we travel to, special places.

For feedback, contact 

Bruce D. Benson
Bruce Benson

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