Jean and Joe Barban were among a group of honorees at CU Denver 7th Annual Donor Recogniton Dinner

By Chris Casey | University Communications

DENVER – “For Jean Barban, every day is a gift. Fifteen years ago her heart stopped.”

The annual Donor Recognition Dinner always highlights inspiring stories of generosity, passion and vision, but this year’s event chronicled a tale that went straight to the heart.

Jean Barban received a heart transplant performed by Dr. Fred Grover (Department of Surgery, School of Medicine), and not a day goes by that she’s not grateful. “In April I will be celebrating 15 years with my new heart,” she said. “…All of my heroes are here at Table 7. Thank you from the bottom of my donor’s heart.”

The experience with the University of Colorado medical team at the Anschutz Medical Campus prompted Jean and Joe Barban, of Omaha, Neb., to make a gift of an endowed chair that allows the university to recognize top faculty’s talents, hard work and achievements. Seated at Table 7 were the physicians — Dr. Grover, Dr. Joseph Cleveland, Dr. Gene Wolfel and Dr. JoAnn Lindenfeld — and two of the nurses — Nancy Ireland and Karin Keller — who cared for Jean Barban.

Scenes from the Donor Recognition Dinner:

The Barbans’ contribution was one of several that were celebrated in a full Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Thursday. Leaders of the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus honored the many contributors to the university and its successful Creating Futures campaign, which in November reached its goal of raising $1.5 billion.

The 7th Annual Donor Recognition Dinner celebrated the Barbans as well as Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, The Colorado Trust, J.P. Morgan and Douglas Tashiro. As usual, the evening’s highlight were the touching and inspiring videos showing how the vision and passion of donors transformed the lives of students and patients at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. The videos can be viewed here.

University’s work on display

During the cocktail reception the more than 500 guests enjoyed the music of the Claim Jumpers (a CU Denver jazz band) and strolled past exhibits showing research and innovations at CU Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus. Displays included the unique TeleMedicine platform being used by the Depression Center; Dr. Richard Weir’s Biomechatronics Development Laboratory; the Digital Animation Center’s motion capture stage; and Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-PAWW), which featured Waffle, a canine therapist for veterans.

Channel 7 News anchor Mike Landess served as emcee of the event, which began with welcoming remarks by Chancellor Don Elliman as well as CU President Bruce Benson and his wife, Marcy.

Elliman gave an overview of the CU Denver campus, highlighting new “timely and relevant” degree programs as well as the 1,000 More initiative to provide scholarships to an additional 1,000 students annually by 2020. “It’s no wonder, then, that more students than ever are coming to CU Denver,” he said. “We are the largest producer of master’s degrees of any public institution in the state, and our overall enrollment has grown from 12,000 students in 2005 to more than 14,000 today.”

He also highlighted the “beautifully renovated” Business School at 15th and Lawrence streets and the new Academic Building being constructed at Speer Boulevard and Larimer Street. “We’re thinking there’s someone in this room whose name would look really good on that building!”

Vice President for Health Affairs and Executive Vice Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus Lilly Marks said the Anschutz Medical Campus is the primary source for training Colorado’s professional healthcare workforce, with nearly 4,000 degree-seeking students in medicine, nursing, dental medicine, pharmacy, public health and graduate studies. She noted that the campus is home for two of the best hospitals in America (University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado), while the School of Medicine ranks in the top 10 among public medical schools for total NIH funding and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ranks third.

“Many of you here tonight have been personally touched by our clinical services or research and have become generous supporters and advocates of our programs,” Marks said. “You have allowed us to recruit and retain the best faculty and develop pioneering clinical programs. Through your generosity, commitment and loyalty you are bringing hope and creating a legacy of health for so many people.”

Providing hope

Providing hope — in the form of mentorship and scholarships for students — or creating a legacy of health and service — in the form of endowments and research funding — were the themes of the evening as Elliman and Marks recognized this year’s honorees:

  • Marks said this of Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, who serves as chair, president and trustee of the Anschutz Family Foundation: “Sue is known throughout Denver and beyond for her committed philanthropic work. Her support for the programming at the Anschutz Medical Campus — particularly the Department of Ophthalmology — will leverage that commitment into more sight for generations to come.”
  • Elliman said this of J.P. Morgan (accepting on behalf of J.P. Morgan was Blythe Masters, the company’s head of Global Commodities): “Thanks to J.P. Morgan the CU Denver Business School was able to establish the first U.S. university center in the field of commodity finance, economics and policy. We fully expect that the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities will be transformational to the future of commodities training, and we’re proud to partner with J.P. Morgan to provide such valuable and innovative programming.”
  • Marks said this of The Colorado Trust (accepting on behalf of The Colorado Trust was Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO): “The Colorado Trust has supported numerous aspects of the university’s work enriching the well-being and sustainability of Colorado communities in every corner of the state. Tonight we honor The Colorado Trust, particularly for its support of rural Colorado communities, ensuring both quality health care today and a pipeline of talent for generations to come.”
  • Elliman said this of Doug Tashiro, who thanked his wife, Sandy, for being a key partner in all of his efforts: “Doug Tashiro has opened a number of doors, particularly for engineering students. His own experiences as an engineering student inspired a gift to the CU Denver College of Engineering and Applied Science that supports programming as innovative and creative as the students themselves.”
  • Marks said this of Jean and Joe Barban, whose lives changed forever, thanks to the the surgical team at Anschutz Medical Campus, just before the turn of the millennium: “Joe and Jean Barban were so moved by the care they received at the Anschutz Medical Campus that they were inspired to give back so that others may benefit as well.”

Helping guests find their tables and performing other services during the course of the evening were many students who are U.S. military veterans. Elliman made sure the student veterans also received their proper due: “You may have met a few of them as you were coming into the ballroom,” he told the huge audience. “We have over 1,000 veteran students on our Denver campus. We’re grateful for their service to our country.”

(Photo at top: Jean and Joe Barban were among the honorees at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus 7th Annual Donor Recognition Dinner at Seawell Ballroom on Feb. 13.)


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