On a visit to the campus for homecoming ceremonies in 1955, when Mr. Frederic A. Wardenburg received an Alumni Recognition Award, he and his wife expressed a desire to show their appreciation to the university. They presented the university with a gift of $1,000,000 intended to enlarge the student health facilities. At that time it was the largest individual gift ever made to CU.
Wardenburg Health Center was named after Frederic and his wife, Effie Seely Wardenburg, both graduates of CU (1900 and 1902, respectively). Frederic Wardenburg was an early graduate of CU – even for his generation. Entering the university at age 14, he graduated with an engineering degree at 18.
He met his wife, Effie Barbara Seely, when they were both students. Seely taught grade school in Leadville before marrying Wardenburg in 1903. She was a member of the group that petitioned for organization of a Chi Omega sorority chapter at CU, and was initiated following her graduation. Fred Wardenburg became a noted engineer and leading figure in the Du Pont Chemical Company of Wilmington, Delaware. Effie was active in social work, particularly with the Wilmington Memorial Hospital.
On October 17, 1959, Fred and Effie Wardenburg attended the dedication of the student health center named in their honor. "You might say this is just in appreciation of what we feel the university did in preparing us for a profession and bringing us together in a marriage that has lasted 55 years," was Fred Wardenburg’s comment at the cornerstone laying ceremonies.
The new center included an outpatient clinic, a 53-bed modern hospital, an emergency room, x-ray technology, a physical therapy department, and offices and exam rooms for eight physicians. It provided students with every medical service except major surgery, which was performed in Boulder hospitals. A pharmacy, the Apothecary, was part of the UCHSC School of Pharmacy, and it provided prescription-filling services for students. A cafeteria on the first floor was popular with employees and other members of the university until it closed in the 1980s.
As the campus grew in numbers of students, services, and buildings, so did Wardenburg Health Center. In the 1980s the health center kept up with technological advancements by introducing a computer system to help with direct student billing. In the early 1990s, the health center changed from a 24-hour care center with overnight and emergency room services to a combined care center, which no longer provided overnight care. Also a this time, construction was completed that enlarged the physical therapy department and the pharmacy.
According to the program from the cornerstone laying ceremony dated October 25, 1958, and as the name on the building reads, the original name of the center was "The Wardenburg Student Health Center." In the 1990s the Health Board voted to delete the word "Student," and today it is known as Wardenburg Health Center (WHC).
In 1991-92 part of the third floor of the building was converted into a women’s health clinic, a dental clinic was added, and the psychiatry department on the first floor was upgraded and additional treatment space was added. The second floor areas of medical records, the laboratory, and the main lobby were renovated. In 1996 the Gold & Silver Clinic was established to service university faculty and staff.
In 2007, Wardenburg underwent several large changes including the implementation of electronic medical records (EMR) and major remodeling on the second floor with minor remodeling in women's health and sports medicine. The Community Health Education department was moved to the University Memorial Center (UMC), a prime location for student outreach and education. The dental clinic and occupational health clinics were closed.
Today, just past our fifty-year anniversary, Wardenburg Health Center has roughly 65,000 patient visits per year and employs over 150 staff and students.