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Denver Pioneer Perspectives

DU sesquicentennial

Oct. 24, 2013

Chancellor CoombeTo the University of Denver Campus Community:

This week, we will welcome many of you to our Homecoming and Family Weekend and to our Alumni Symposium. These combined events provide the University community with great opportunities to gather together and feel the essence of the Pioneer spirit. Of special note this year will be the start of our University's sesquicentennial celebration, the 150th anniversary of our founding back in 1864.

Over the coming year, we will look back and take stock of 150 years of vision, determination and hard work that produced the very special institution that we are today. We will honor and remember our heroes, and celebrate their courage and unwavering belief in a bright future, even in dark times. We will recognize their consistent, deep commitment to absolute quality in education and to the notion of the University as a powerful engine of positive change.

Today, the quality of our academic enterprise and the depth of our intellectual culture are greater than at any time in the past 150 years. We have students who are more able, engaged and diverse in many dimensions than ever before. Most of them come from places other than Colorado, and 12 percent from places other than the United States. Common to all is that they've come to DU because of our commitment to quality and the value of the distinctive DU educational experience. Recently, Kiplinger's ranked DU 41st among all private universities for value, defined as the quality of the student academic experience relative to its cost. Our faculty and staff are the real drivers behind that quality and value, and today we have 777 appointed full-time faculty members and just under 600 part-time faculty members, for an overall student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1 across all our programs, undergraduate and graduate.

We believe that our intellectual culture is also defined by community and by place. Over the past 20 years, we've invested more than $500 million in our campus home. Most recently, we opened the Anderson Academic Commons, a wonderful building that provides a common focal point for our intellectual and social cultures. We are working hard on a major renovation to the Margery Reed building, home to the undergraduate programs in the Daniels College of Business. In March, we will break ground on a new 130,000-square-foot building for the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, which will also include lab space for 10 new research groups in the Knoebel Center for the Study of Aging.

Our University is financially more stable today than ever before. We have operated in the black for 24 years in a row. Our endowment has grown beyond the $400 million mark, in spite of the substantial downturn in the markets during the recent recession. Our ASCEND campaign, which will run through June 2014, stands at $436 million in gifts and commitments since the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Major change is surely coming to higher education, and after 150 years we find ourselves at yet another turning point. This is a time to be proud of all that we've accomplished together, a time to be open-minded, forward-looking, and embracing of the changes that are afoot. It is a time of extraordinary opportunity precisely because of all that has been accomplished, because of the strong platform based on quality that we've built together. It's a time for optimism, energy, ideas, and a fair bit of courage, and if you think about it those are precisely the traits that we've developed over the past 150 years, deeply imbedded in our institutional character, and that we celebrate this year of our sesquicentennial.

That celebration begins this weekend. Be a proud Denver Pioneer! Please join us for the many Homecoming events, for Parents Weekend, or for the Alumni Symposium. We will continue to share information with you about our plans and hope to see you on campus soon. To learn more about sesquicentennial events through the year, please visit

Best regards,

Robert Coombe signature

Robert Coombe