President Bruce Benson's newsletter

February 2016

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The University of Colorado and our great state came into being together in 1876 and our fortunes have been intertwined ever since.

State universities such as ours have a particular obligation to serve our citizens. CU's four campuses offer myriad educational opportunities to Coloradans of all stripes. CU for Colorado features some 280 outreach programs in every corner of the state, where CU faculty offer educational programs, solve community problems or provide research and expertise to help decision makers. We also have more than 400 clinics affiliated with CU physicians and health care providers across the state. We're proud of our efforts and continually look for ways to serve Colorado.

We had another great example of CU's service when Gov. John Hickenlooper in January appointed CU-Boulder History Professor Patty Limerick to the post of Colorado State Historian. I have known Patty for many years and have long admired her abilities to present important contemporary issues in a historical context – everything from energy development to water issues in the West. In 2006, she asked me to serve on the board of the Center of the American West, which she leads as faculty director.

Although I resigned that board seat when I became CU president in 2008, I was impressed by the work of the center and continue to be. Patty and the Center of the American West have an uncanny ability not only to draw relevant parallels between current issues and historical perspectives, but also to foster balanced discussion and debate that furthers issues in productive ways.

Her skills will serve the state and the university well in her added role as state historian. It's a natural extension of what she has been doing for years – advocating for the value of history and the humanities. She'll have a bigger platform for her efforts, and our state's efforts in history will benefit substantially from her expertise.

Patty also was recently appointed to the National Council on the Humanities, a prestigious national group of 26 citizens who advise the National Endowment for the Humanities on the $120 million-130 million in grants it awards annually.

The demise of the humanities has been greatly exaggerated, and Patty and some of her colleagues are demonstrating just how relevant the field can be in our society. Certainly we have placed increasing focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines as a university and a society, but that doesn't come at the expense of the humanities. Patty and others are leaders in taking the humanities into society and addressing pressing issues. Faculty are finding new markets, creating markets and being more entrepreneurial in engaging our state and beyond. We're preparing our students for those opportunities.

Patty lauds her many colleagues who are working at the intersection of the university and society. For instance, Professors Nan Goodman and David Shneer in Jewish Studies are exploring the Jewish experience and its relevance to current discussions about ethnicity and race.

Philosophy Professor Bob Pasnau leads our Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy, which elevates research, discussion and debate on the role of Western civilization on American ideas, ideals and institutions. It uses esteemed guest lecturers, classes, discussion and debate to get ideas on the table, letting students make up their own minds. English Professor Adam Bradley takes an interdisciplinary approach at the confluence of race and popular culture, examining it through the lens of hip-hop, which attracts students to the field. Plenty more faculty are extending the reach of the humanities.

CU has been a part of our state, not apart from it, for 140 years. As we continually re-imagine our role in Colorado's past, present and future, one thing won't change – we'll remain an integral part of our state, as we have been since 1876.

For feedback, contact


Bruce Benson


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February, History and humanities


  • December, Enriching diversity
  • November, Veterans: Impact and opportunity
  • October, Tackling mental health
  • September, Marketing a great university
  • August, Coming of Age
  • June, Sunny futures
  • May, Vision to see the future
  • April, Momentum in Denver
  • March, Public higher education's changing face
  • February, Health and medicine: modest beginnings, lofty aspirations 


  • November, Leadership lessons
  • October, Learning how to learn
  • September, CU's largest real estate gift
  • August, What for, not how much
  • July, The bogeyman in the basement
  • May, Private gain or public good?
  • April, Funding outlook: sunny today, stormy tomorrow
  • March, Expertise and passion
  • February, Soaring in southern Colorado
  • January, It all starts with reputation



  • December, The threat from legal pot
  • November, Good news comes in threes
  • October, CU labs: a magnificent microcosm
  • September, Is college worth it?
  • August, A lasting legacy and a record set
  • July, Getting there from here
  • June, Serving those who served
  • May, Indelible impact
  • April, Bruce on Bruce
  • March, Perception and reality
  • February,Leading leaders


  • December, We're most proud of this CU uniform
  • November, From python hearts to Tebow's cleats
  • October, We want you
  • September, How to succeed at college and save $20,000
  • August, Reputation drives results
  • July, Teaching an old president new tricks
  • June, A message from the president
  • April, CU announces $1.5 billion Creating Futures campaign
  • February




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