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Building a Remarkable History

The University of Colorado Boulder's history is one of vision and determination—useful traits for pioneers dreaming of educational opportunities in the days of the Colorado Territory. Indeed, a state university was envisioned before Colorado became a state, when the territorial legislature passed an act in 1861 providing for a "University at Boulder."

In America's centennial year of 1876, both the university and the state of Colorado were formally established. Forty-four students formed the first class, taught by three instructors, including President Joseph A. Sewall. Situated on a "barren and wind-swept plain," Old Main Building housed not only the first classrooms, but the president's home, the library, and the janitor's quarters.

Thus, the stage was set for a remarkable future. Over the next 130 years, the university has blossomed in size and quality—attracting superb faculty, staff, and students to a breathtaking campus set against the Flatirons. Throughout the 1900s, CU-Boulder has built strong academic programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines. Over the years, the university has claimed a number of Nobel laureates, "genius grant" MacArthur Fellows, and elected members of prestigious national organizations and academies.

Early on, the university recognized the potential benefits of interdisciplinary work and collaborative learning in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The rich interplay of ideas across academic boundaries has fostered a spirit of innovation and discovery, from space science to the American West to biotechnology.

At the heart of this effort is the drive to create a "new flagship university" as the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century. With Flagship 2030, we have a unique opportunity to serve Colorado and enhance the well-being of humankind through excellence in teaching, research, creative work, and service.