Man behind SaveLIFE foundation a 'modern Gandhi,' says CU Denver filmmaker
DENVER – As of July 2006, University of Colorado health sciences programs looked longingly toward an Aurora campus they did not fully inhabit and could not fully afford. A renowned former CU educator was driving biotech discoveries—2,000 miles away. A Denver business school had big hopes, but small quarters. And many of UCCS’s 7,500 students faced barriers to affording higher education.
With more than 200,000 gifts to the university since, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is now the nation’s fastest-growing academic health sciences campus, and Tom Cech has returned to lead the Biofrontiers Institute at CU-Boulder—where he won a Nobel Prize in 1989. The CU Denver Business School will soon debut a new home, and has new programs in niches from energy management to commodity trading. Colorado Springs students have help affording college—yet now there are 9,300 of them, and many new scholarships making UCCS more attainable for veterans, transfer students, and first-generation students alike.
Individual, corporate, and foundation gifts and grants toward Creating Futures have now exceeded $1 billion—surpassing a major milestone in CU’s most ambitious fundraising campaign ever, the $1.5 billion Creating Futures.
“We are energized by the generosity of the individuals, foundations, and corporations who have invested in excellence at the University of Colorado,” said CU President Bruce D. Benson, who chairs the Creating Futures campaign along with his wife, Marcy. “Our faculty, students, and campuses are the direct beneficiaries of that investment, but the people of Colorado also benefit through CU’s contributions to our state’s economic, social, and cultural health.”
Since the campaign began in July 2006, more than $530 million in private gifts and grants have come through the CU Foundation, the university’s fundraising and investment-management partner. Most of the remaining private support has been faculty-generated grants and private gifts that are channeled directly to the university.
“Reaching the $1 billion mark is a significant milestone that is testament to the confidence donors have in CU and the great work of its faculty, staff, and students,” says Marcy Benson. “We’re thrilled with the progress we have made, which provides inspiration to help us continue to work to meet our goal.”
Despite a difficult economy, CU donors have responded in record numbers and with record amounts these past five years to support initiatives in CU’s primary areas of focus:
- Learning and Teaching, including UCCS scholarship gifts by hundreds of individuals (and $5.5 million, UCCS’s largest cash gift to date, given anonymously), and by foundations such as the Kane Family Foundation and the Daniels Foundation
- Discovery and Innovation, including $5 million from Pinnacol Assurance to establish a new Risk Management and Insurance program at CU Denver
- Culture and Community, including $5 million from Mort and Alice Mortenson and builder M.A. Mortenson Company to establish an Engineering for Developing Communities program at CU-Boulder—supporting sustainable development in marginalized communities worldwide
- Health and Wellness, including more than $100 million in gifts ($44 million this campaign) from The Anschutz Foundation toward CU’s new health sciences campus, and new donor-driven centers working toward Down syndrome and stem cell discoveries
President Bruce Benson reinforces that while private philanthropy can provide relief to CU’s budget in targeted areas, it does not replace the need for operational funds squeezed by declining public funding, as 98 percent of gifts are earmarked by donors for specific purposes. Given CU’s diminished state support (from more than 30 percent of CU’s budget 30 years ago to approximately 5 percent today), private support will continue to take on added importance.
Gifts to Creating Futures will expand access to higher education, provide needed health services, generate groundbreaking research and ideas, and drive the region’s economy. CU’s annual economic impact exceeds $7 billion, and CU researchers annually garner more than $800 million in public grant awards for research (not included in the campaign, which is oriented toward private support).
Priority fundraising areas for the remainder of Creating Futures include scholarships, endowed chairs, and professorships; research programs; buildings and infrastructure; and academic support on all four CU campuses.
In chairing the Creating Futures campaign for the CU System, the Bensons work closely with volunteer leaders for each campus including Jean (’64) and Jack (’64,’70) Thompson at CU-Boulder, Nan (’87) and Carl (’67, ’71) Eklund at the Anschutz Medical Campus, Laura (’94) and Dave (’82) Baker at CU Denver, and Mary and Ed Osborne at UCCS.
About the CU System
The University of Colorado is a premier public research university with four campuses: the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Some 60,000 students are pursuing CU academic degrees. Academic prestige is marked by the university’s four Nobel laureates, seven MacArthur “genius” Fellows, 18 alumni astronauts and 19 Rhodes Scholars. For more information about the entire CU system, and to access campus resources, go to www.cu.edu.
About the CU Foundation
Founded in 1967, the nonprofit CU Foundation partners with the University of Colorado to raise, manage, and invest private support for the university’s benefit. Our donors help the university transform lives through education, research, clinical care, and community engagement. Visit www.cufund.org for more information.