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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.

University of Denver Raises nearly $490 Million in its ASCEND Fundraising Campaign

DENVER— July 24, 2014 – Eight years after launching the most successful fundraising effort in its 150-year history, the University of Denver marked the end of ASCEND: The Campaign for the University of Denver on June 30, 2014. Each year of the campaign was among the University’s top ten fundraising years, with the final year of ASCEND surpassing all previous annual fundraising totals.

During the record-breaking campaign, more than 47,000 alumni and friends of the University gave nearly $490 million in support of priorities across campus that will enhance the educational experience and strengthen the University for the long term. Alumni from 41 countries and all 50 states invested in the future of the University during ASCEND.

“The ASCEND campaign has made an impact on the very core of the University,” said Scott Lumpkin, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement. “By strengthening the student experience through scholarships, programs, and key facilities while more than doubling the University’s endowment to over $460 million, the campaign has laid the foundation for our University to capitalize on the opportunities that the coming decades will bring.”

Support for scholarships was a hallmark of the ASCEND campaign. Donors’ generosity created nearly 600 new scholarships and nearly doubled the number of endowed scholarships that had been established in the University’s previous 142 years. Increased support broadens the University’s ability to recruit the brightest students regardless of socioeconomic background. It also helps to narrow the need gap of the average student, making a DU education more attainable for many.

A significant catalyst in the effort to establish scholarships was a matching program created by the University in 2010. The scholarship matching program was met with great enthusiasm by alumni and friends of the University, resulting in more than $100 million in new scholarship support for deserving students of DU.

Other highlights of ASCEND include: • The University raised more than $80 million in the final year of the campaign, the most successful fundraising year in University history. • Participation increased among alumni and friends, including more than 25,000 new donors. • Nearly 69,000 gifts of less than $100 each were received during the campaign, for a total of $3.6 million. • The University received more than 100 gifts of $1 million or greater during ASCEND, which is more million-dollar gifts than had been received in University history. • Bequest distributions and other planned gifts accounted for one-third of the campaign total, reflecting the foresight and planning of many alumni and friends. • The Faculty and Staff Campaign was re-established in 2012 and garnered an average 30% participation. • The Annual Fund’s highest fundraising year during ASCEND was 2014, with more than $6.3 million raised and more than 12,500 donors.

Anderson Academic Commons captured the attention of the University community, and it has become the hub of intellectual and social life on campus. Gifts of all sizes from more than 5,000 people made possible the innovative new library that offers extended learning opportunities and collaborations that are not typically associated with a traditional library. Read more about last year’s opening of the facility.

Anderson Academic Commons was one of the latest examples in the continued transformation of the University campus. During the campaign, new and updated facilities provided a varsity training center and practice fields for student athletes, a new home for Morgridge College of Education, student art studios, and a LEED Gold-rated residence hall, to name just a few. The University’s next several years will bring a new international relations complex for the Josef Korbel School of International Studies as well as a new home for the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Throughout its eight-year run, the ASCEND campaign reached all facets of the University. While scholarships and Anderson Academic Commons were among the highest priorities, gifts during the campaign also benefited programs, endowed faculty funds, and numerous other priorities. Support for endowed chairs and professorships has helped the University recruit and retain top minds who will partner with students in the educational journey. Programmatic funding has enhanced the academic and research landscape for students, including innovative centers in international studies and in law, professorships in painting and in Italian culture, faculty and programs in education, programs in pre-med research and in finance, and numerous others.

“The campaign was about securing the resources to transform the lives of our students so they can be the leaders of tomorrow,” said Doug Scrivner, chair of the ASCEND campaign and chair of the Board of Trustees. “By all measures, we have succeeded, fostering an environment in which students can create lives of accomplishment, meaning and purpose.”

The University’s endowment more than doubled to exceed $460 million during ASCEND, a noteworthy milestone within the eight-year campaign. The endowment’s increase is due both to the generous gifts of donors and the careful stewardship of the University’s assets. Along with increasing alumni participation – evidence of community support of the University’s mission – a strong endowment indicates significant stability as the University anticipates the opportunities of the coming decades.

In reflecting on the ASCEND campaign, Chancellor Robert Coombe said, “This campaign represents a huge step forward for the University, establishing the foundation on which the University will build in the coming years – in research, scholarship, and creativity.”

To learn more about how ASCEND is transforming the University’s future, please visit the

Ritchie's $1 million gift to Lamont is matched by DU

A $1 million commitment to the University of Denver from Chancellor Emeritus Daniel Ritchie will be matched by the University to provide a total of $2 million in scholarship support for graduate students in the Lamont School of Music.

The Jessie Dee Ritchie Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund for Music is named in honor of Ritchie’s mother. “My mother was a singer before she met my father,” Ritchie says. “She introduced me to opera and instilled in me a love of music. I’m pleased that I can extend this appreciation to others and support promising young students.”

The gift will create scholarship funding for exceptionally talented graduate students studying in a variety of disciplines. Lamont is a performance-focused school, committed to providing excellent, innovative musical training, as well as the skills and experiences necessary for a successful career as a musician in a changing environment.

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.

“We are thrilled to receive this gift from Mr. Ritchie,” says Nancy Cochran, director of the Lamont School of Music. “Increased graduate scholarship funding will enable Lamont to be more competitive on the national and international stage while elevating it to be one of the leading and most forward-thinking music schools.”

Ritchie’s vision and love for the arts helped to establish the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Denver campus. This paved the way for the Lamont School of Music to return to campus in 2002 from its Park Hill location. In 2013, Ritchie made the largest single donation in the University’s history to name the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science in honor of his father. Daniel Ritchie served as the University’s chancellor between 1989 and 2005 and as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2007.

Support for scholarships was a hallmark of the recently completed $480 million ASCEND campaign, which resulted in 576 new scholarships. Many gifts to scholarships were matched dollar-for-dollar through a scholarship matching program and a separate performing arts matching program.

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