The University of Denver's Chester M Alter Arboretum was created in 1999 under the leadership of then-Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie to honor the legacy of the institution's 12th chancellor.
Today, the arboretum testifies to Alter's role in laying the foundation for the campus to come. Serving as chancellor from 1953 to 1967, Alter spearheaded a building boom and helped the campus grow from 75 acres to 125.
The Chester M Alter Arboretum is home to about 2,150 trees representing more than 240 species and varieties, as well as dozens of shrub species that provide the landscape with year-round interest. In addition to some historically significant mature trees, the arboretum includes ten state champions, the largest specimens of a particular species growing in Colorado. University Park, the neighborhood to the east of campus, is home to several more state champions.
The arboretum aims to delight and instruct. It also aims to establish a regional identity for the campus based on collections of trees, shrubs and woody groundcovers that enhance the University's aesthetic, educational and scientific goals. In time, the arboretum's collection will include all native Colorado species capable of flourishing on the Front Range, as well as ecologically adapted specimens from around the world.
The University's trees preside over a site once covered in high prairie grasses. They highlight the continuing changes to our landscape and environment. They also testify to the enduring human impulse to improve and beautify.
The Edna Biggs Kurtz Chair in Biological Sciences was established by William C. "Bill" Kurtz Jr. and Alma Kurtz to support the director of the Chester M Alter Arboretum.