Denver Businessman, CU-Boulder Alumnus Donates $1 Million To University

Published: July 15, 1999

Nick Petry, whose company Petry Construction Co. built many commercial and public buildings on the Front Range, and his wife, Nancy, have donated $1 million to CU Boulder’s Construction Engineering and Management Program. Their gift establishes an endowment which will support hands-on learning for undergraduate and graduate students in construction engineering and construction project management.

"I want CU to have one of the best programs in the region that prepares students to become leaders in the construction industry," said Nick Petry.

Petry graduated from the University of Colorado in 1940 with a degree in economics. He served as a Lieutenant in the Civil Engineering Corps of the United States Navy during WWII, supervising construction of airplane manufacturing plants.

He has remained active with the university, serving as chairman of the board of the CU Foundation, and has been honored with numerous awards including the Alumni Recognition Award (1958), the George Norlin Award (1981), the CU Athletic Hall of Honor Award (1984) and inclusion in the CU Golf Hall of Fame (1991).

The Construction Engineering and Management Program, housed in Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, has been a leader in introducing women to the construction business. In addition to traditional studies, the program allows students to apply lessons of the classroom to actual construction projects, such as the Friends (Quaker) Meeting House in Boulder.

Petry and his wife are generous donors to the University of Colorado at Boulder and have supported renovation of Old Main, the Colorado Art Collection, ongoing scholarships in economics and athletics, and the Petry Auditorium in the Dal Ward Athletic Center. In addition, they have contributed to cancer research and scholarships at the CU-Health Sciences Center in Denver.

"The university is very gratified by this gift from the Petrys," said CU President John C. Buechner. "This show of support for the Total Learning Environment by one of the university’s most accomplished alumni means a great deal to all of us at CU now and in the future."

Petry also has been active in the Denver community, serving as president of Denver Rotary Club (1959-60), president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners, and president and chairman of the board of the National Western Stock Show. He also was honored as the Citizen of the West (1986) and inducted in the Denver Chamber of Commerce’s and Junior Achievement Colorado Business Hall of Fame (1994).

CU-Boulder Chancellor Richard Byyny said, "Nick and Nancy are great supporters of the university, and we greatly appreciate their generous gift to the College of Engineering.

"This gift will clearly move the Construction Engineering and Management program to the next level of excellence. It will enhance our engineering students’ learning experiences through interaction with faculty and industry professionals. CU is indeed fortunate to have such devoted and generous friends, and I personally want to thank them."

Petry’s construction company was responsible for building many structures in Denver including the Petroleum Club Building at 16th and Broadway, the Brown Palace West, Capitol Life Center, the Colorado State Bank Building, the Denver U.S. Bank Building, Denver National Bank, the Colorado National Bank Building, Larimer Place Condominiums, Mellon Financial Center, and additions to Presbyterian Medical Center.

The University of Colorado’s fundraising campaign for the Total Learning Environment has targeted projects and programs that exemplify innovations in learning, responsiveness to students and other constituents, effective use of technology, and development of a strong infrastructure for CU.