Bensons Donate $3 Million For Endowed Chair

Published: Nov. 4, 1997

A new endowed chair in petroleum geology has been established at the University of Colorado at Boulder, funded by a gift of $3 million from Bruce and Marcy Benson, according to Chancellor Richard L. Byyny.

Byyny made the surprise announcement during the dedication ceremony for the Benson Earth Sciences Building Oct. 30 on the Boulder campus.

“Marcy and Bruce Benson have left a lasting mark on this campus,” Byyny said. He noted that to be named to an endowed chair is one of the highest honors in the university setting and that it can help retain and recruit renowned faculty members.

Gifford Miller, chairman of the geology department, said that this first endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences is a strong endorsement of the geological sciences program. “It is a bold statement about the maturity and quality of the program here at CU,” Miller said. “And it’s particularly gratifying that this endorsement is coming from the private sector.”

President John Buechner said, “This campaign gift establishes the importance of the Total Learning Environment initiative at CU. We will be forever indebted to the Bensons for their generosity and support.”

Bruce Benson, a 1964 graduate of CU-Boulder, majored in petroleum geology. He now is owner and president of Benson Mineral Group Inc. and president, CEO and chairman of the board of United States Exploration Inc., a public company. Benson was Republican nominee for governor of Colorado in 1994 and former chair of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

Currently, he is president of the Denver Zoological Foundation and is an active volunteer and major donor at the University of Colorado. The Benson Earth Sciences Building on the Boulder campus was named for Benson in honor of his gift to the project, as well as his leadership in raising funds for the building.

Benson and his wife, Marcy, have agreed to chair a mjaor fund-raising campaign for the University of Colorado that is focused on the Total Learning Environment initiative.

The Benson Chair is the fourth currently funded chair on the Boulder campus. Others include the Glen Murphy Chair in Engineering, James and Catherine Patten Chair in Chemical Engineering, and the Rothgerber Chair in Law. An endowed chair requires minimum funding of $1.5 million or more, depending on the particular discipline.

An endowed gift is invested by the University of Colorado Foundation Inc. and a portion of the earnings is expended each year for the chair, program or scholarship established by the donor. The remaining earnings are reinvested in the fund so that it retains its full value over time.