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Ascend - The Campaign for the University of Denver

News & Stories

We see ASCEND's impact in both the numbers and the people. The numbers show the grand scale of this most successful fundraising campaign in University history. In the people, we see how gifts of all sizes make a difference in everyday lives, and, in turn, in the future of our University.

More than 5,000 donors built a catalyst for campus connection
Adrian Miller

Students gather in Anderson Academic Commons to learn collaboratively

Since its opening in the spring of 2013, Anderson Academic Commons has become the hub of intellectual life at the University of Denver. The University spent 10 years conducting surveys and planning this replacement for Penrose Library, and the new building directly reflects current trends in learning and education. Rather than functioning solely as a quiet place to study or as the backdrop to office hours, it offers the possibility for extended learning opportunities and collaborations that are not typically associated with a traditional library.

Anderson Academic Commons—commonly known as the AAC—has 2,000 outlets (about one per seat) and 32 group study rooms equipped with white boards and flat screens that connect to computers, tablets, and smart phones. However, technology is not the AAC’s most impressive feature. Richly integrated educational experiences are made logistically possible by the new space and facilitated by staff members like Andrea Howland. As the Community Relations Manager, Howland promotes speakers and coordinates events with different departments across campus.

Anderson Academic Commons recently hosted an event with Adrian Miller, a culinary historian who had used the DU library’s Husted Cookery Collection to research his recent book about soul food. Attendees listened to Miller speak as they enjoyed authentic cuisine and music performed by DU students. Fusions of academia, food, and entertainment were not possible in the previous Penrose Library. But, thanks to the generosity of more than 5,000 donors during ASCEND: The Campaign for the University of Denver, the AAC has been able to host these types of interdisciplinary events. By offering this gathering and many others like it, Anderson Academic Commons makes such events more accessible to students, staff, faculty, and the greater Denver community.

Howland says she “loves that the library has an impact on everybody at the University.” Users might come in to pick up a book or eat lunch at the Front Porch Café and notice an exhibit or an upcoming guest speaker. The Anderson Academic Commons is a valuable resource that enriches academic life at the University of Denver. As the intellectual hub of campus, it truly helps build community.

Outpouring of support opens the door to first generation student
Cameron Simmons

First-generation student Cameron Simmons tells his story at sesquicentennial Founders Day

As Cameron Simmons dedicates himself to his studies, his community, and his future, scholarships are paving the way.

He worked tirelessly to prepare himself in the years prior to attending the University of Denver, learning about both the opportunities and the challenges of the college experience. Chief among those challenges was the cost. He knew that his educational future depended on scholarships.

Among the schools to which Cameron applied, DU was the only one that reached out to demonstrate sincere interest in him. Current DU parents called his parents, and students reached out to him. They walked his family through the financial aid process and answered questions about all aspects of the University.

Cameron received the Daniels Fund Scholarship, and he was also named Colorado State Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club, which provided him additional scholarship funds. As the first in his family to go to college, these scholarships helped him realize his boyhood dream.

“Without scholarships, I wouldn’t have been able to come to DU at all,” said Cameron. “They allow me to contribute to the campus experience rather than working 60 hours a week to pay a bill.”

As president of the Black Student Alliance and an active member of the Pioneer Leadership Program, through which he mentors high school students, Cameron invests his time in the community around him. He has his sights set on an MBA at DU, working for the Boys and Girls Club, and eventually returning to Denver for a law degree and a political career. He wants to make a larger impact on society, perhaps even one day becoming the chancellor of his alma mater.

“I would be able to relate to the students,” he said. “I can tell them that I came here and got my degree; let me show you the way.”

Global support from DU community for ASCEND campaign
Alumni from all 50 states and 41 countries have invested in the future of DU during ASCEND.
Chair of Modern Learning supports innovations in legal education
Roberto Corrada

Sturm College of Law students prepare for lives and careers of impact

What is the value of a law degree? In recent years, that question has been top of mind for every aspiring attorney. A gift made to Ascend: The Campaign for the University of Denver is ensuring that students at Sturm College of Law are earning a degree that will give them not only legal knowledge, but also the practical skills and ethical foundation to become an effective, practicing attorney upon graduation. And in turn, they will be stronger job candidates.

When James “Jim” Mulligan JD ’74 earned his law degree at DU, he worked for the general counsel of a real estate company and balanced his part-time work schedule with law classes. Jim considered this informal apprenticeship to be the key to his success as an attorney. Fulfilling a desire for other students to benefit from a similar experience, Jim and his wife, Joan Burleson JD ’85, made a lead gift that created the Mulligan Burleson Chair of Modern Learning, the first of its kind in the nation. Alumnus and trustee Doug Scrivner JD ’77 and his wife, Mary, also supported the endowed chair.

Held by distinguished Professor Roberto Corrada, the chair ensures that law students at the University have access to experiential learning that integrates three fundamental apprenticeships of legal education: analytical skills (how lawyers think), professional skills (what lawyers do), and professional formation (ethical considerations lawyers face). By combining robust courses that include innovative simulation methods with clinical courses and an extensive externship program, all Sturm College of Law students can spend one full year of law school in a hands-on, experiential learning environment. Sturm College of Law is one of only 16 law schools in the United States to offer this innovative curriculum.

“We are bridging the gap between a traditional academic degree and professional experience,” said Professor Corrada. “We are taking bold steps to ensure that, by the time they graduate, our students will know exactly what is expected of them when they step into a courtroom or join the legal team at a firm.”

New Computer Science wing educates students about innovators in their field
Pukstas scholars poses for the camera

Computer Science students lead the way in innovation

In 2002, with their naming donation to The Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Robert and Judi Newman engaged the heart of the university, bringing together DU student musicians and performers with the larger Denver community.

Now, with their new gift—one bolstering the computer science program—the Newmans are hoping to further engage the minds and talents of University of Denver students.

Their generous gift helps fund the construction of the computer science floor in the new home of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Though well-known as art lovers, the Newmans are just as passionate about computer science, having both worked in the field for many years. “We were both computer programmers and systems designers as well as managers of various technical groups,” says Robert Newman, a DU trustee and co-founder of J.D. Edwards & Co., a large Denver software company that is now part of Oracle Corporation.

“Computer science has been good for us, and we have seen immense progress in the field during our careers,” he says.

Their gift specifically will fund the department chair’s office, a visiting faculty suite, and 12 DU faculty offices on the new floor.

“The computer science floor helps satisfy a critical need for more lab and facility space for the rapidly expanding department,” says Judi Newman.

The Newmans will name the rooms after innovators in the field, “recognizing key contributors to the evolution of computing with a short biographical plaque at each office and study space.”

The hope, the Newmans say, is that the biographies will motivate students— in the sense that they will have role models in their field of study.

The Newmans say they admire DU’s hands-on, collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to engineering education and hope their gift helps the Ritchie School advance to a new level, establishing itself as a leader in some emerging area of information science.

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Ascend — The Campaign for the University of Denver