Dear Alumni and Friends,
The University of Colorado first offered classes in Colorado Springs in the 1920s, but it wasn't until 1965 that the dream of a permanent campus became a reality.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs is in the midst of a yearlong celebration of its 50th birthday with events, academic activities and community outreach. It has come a long way in a half-century, transitioning from one building at a bankrupt tuberculosis sanitarium to commuter campus to fast-growing regional research university with a national reputation, focused on southern Colorado. And today, under the energetic leadership of Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, UCCS is coming of age.
Tuberculosis sufferers in the 19th and early 20th centuries were urged to go west, where the clear mountain air helped relieve symptoms. But when the disease began to fade as a health concern in the mid-20th century, George Dwire sold the Cragmor Sanitarium that rested on Austin Bluffs to CU for the tidy sum of $1. Around that time, the community was clamoring for more CU offerings. One of the more vocal proponents was Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard, who urged then Gov. John Love to bring CU to Colorado Springs so his company would have the highly skilled workforce it needed.
CU's second campus opened for business in the fall of 1965, and constants have pervaded UCCS's history since: community and growth.
UCCS initially was a commuter campus for working adults. It still serves them, but also has become a robust residential university. It is the designated growth campus for the CU system, where 11,132 students work toward any of 37 bachelor's, 19 master's or five doctoral degrees.
The physical campus is growing to keep pace with the student body. Groundbreakings and building dedications seem as frequent as commencement ceremonies. In terms of acreage (about 500), UCCS is CU's largest campus. In the past two years it has seen the opening of the Lane Center, a new administrative building and two new residence halls with nearly 200 beds. Another two residence halls (serving 300 students) will open this fall, along with a new dining hall. More than 1,400 students live on campus.
UCCS had one of only two CU construction projects funded this year by the Colorado General Assembly, the Ent Center for the Arts, a $60 million facility scheduled to open in January 2018. In recent years, the campus was a catalyst for the redevelopment of North Nevada Avenue, helping turn the previously seedy strip into a thriving development. It not only offers retail and restaurants, it creates jobs for our students.
Ties to the community are the hallmark of UCCS. They run deep and wide. The campus is not only a substantial economic driver in the Pikes Peak region, but faculty, staff and students are engaged in a variety of ways, from internships and service projects to community events and public-private partnerships. The campus has one of the four pillars of Colorado Springs' City for Champions project, a sports and wellness center to be built on North Nevada. The Lane Center is home to the Peak Vista Community Health Centers clinic, which provides health services to the community. It also is home of the recently opened branch of the CU School of Medicine, which will increase our capacity to prepare physicians.
UCCS has particularly strong ties with the military, which has a significant presence in Colorado Springs. It is one of the top universities nationally for serving veterans. Additionally, it recently joined a national consortium of universities, corporations and the U.S. military to launch a program to address pressing needs in cybersecurity.
Yet UCCS extends community beyond Colorado Springs. It is focused on southern Colorado and was the leader in developing the Southern Colorado Higher Education Consortium, which leverages educational opportunities across 10 colleges and universities.
The future is bright for UCCS. It is a key part of the CU system and its prominence continues to grow. I hope you can take in some of the many activities scheduled for the celebration. If you can't, you might do what the freshman class will do this year: get a copy of Discovering Place , a campus history from the Cretaceous age to the present, with contributions from faculty, staff and students. It's a coming of age story.
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