January 2015
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano Philip P. DiStefano

Dear Friends,

Fourth-generation Buff graduate

Zachary Wehner graduated Dec. 20 with a master's degree in civil engineering, becoming the fourth generation of his family to earn a CU-Boulder degree.

It was a good year to be a Buff in 2014. We sent an orbital explorer to Mars, prepared to open our first new college in 50 years, welcomed the smartest, most diverse freshman class in our history, celebrated a national championship, and trumpeted our 100th homecoming. Read all about our 2014 highlights at CU-Boulder here.

To top it all off, we honored 1,707 December graduates, including a fourth-generation Buff.

Colorado Daily/Boulder Daily Camera, Dec. 20: "CU-Boulder sends off winter grads; Boulder campus awards 1,707 degrees"

Athletics' 'Drive for $105 million' announced

New athletics faciilities

The "Drive for 105" will support new state-of-the-art athletics facilities and an endowment to support the athletics program and student-athletes in perpetuity.

Last Saturday, Athletic Director Rick George and I announced the  Drive For $105 Million, of which a record-breaking $72.4 million has already been raised privately through philanthropic gifts and corporate partnerships to support our new rising athletic facilities and an athletics endowment for student-athletes in perpetuity.

The target is to raise $85 million in facilities funding and $20 million in endowment funding. The facilities will enhance recruiting and training, support our student-athletes academically and improve the fan experience. I believe they will be among the best facilities in the country.

The Drive for $105 MIllion is the public phase of the Sustainable Excellence Initiative and we have enlisted two alumni with lifelong Boulder roots, Ariel and Kristen Solomon, to serve as co-chairs of the campaign. Ariel was an offensive lineman on our 1990 national championship football team.

[videoicon /] Watch Saturday's press conference annoucing the Drive For 105.

[videoicon /] Watch a tour of construction progress this week with Athletic Director Rick George.

Thank you to each and every donor that has supported the Sustainable Excellence Initiative to date.

Donate Today

Glenn Miller Ballroom reborn

Glenn Miller Ballroom rededication

We all have memories of the Glenn Miller Ballroom. The grand room was rededicated this week after an extensive renovation.

Besides the great academic experience of CU-Boulder, all of us have our memories of the Glenn Miller Ballroom. I know I do. It has hosted famous and infamous musical acts, visiting Supreme Court justices, lecturers who have defined their generation, career fairs, trivia bowls, laser tag competitions, dance contests, big and small moments in the university's history and far too many events to name. It has been the front porch of our university and deserved a little tender, loving care.

This week we celebrated the grand reopening of the granddaddy of all CU rooms with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It’s the great room's first major renovation since it opened in 1953 and it's stunning. With over 30 events already booked in the new Glenn Miller Ballroom, it's time to make new memories. I hope you will check it out next time you are on campus.

Dalai Lama will visit campus in October

Student leaders in partnership with the Tibetan Association of Colorado worked over the course of a year to secure the Dalai Lama's visit to campus in October. You can read about their behind-the-scenes effort here to personally engage this world leader of international renown. 

Our students often bring speakers to campus that represent diverse and cultural viewpoints. The Dalai Lama is an international ambassador of peace and goodwill and his talk, "Compassion in Action," will focus on incorporating the core values of compassion and ethics into daily life. 

The CU Student Government, the CU Cultural Events Board and the Tibetan Association of Colorado are hosting the Dalai Lama. His visit Oct. 20-21 is another example of our commitment to international education.

Boulder Daily Camera, Jan. 27: "Dalai Lama in Boulder: October dates confirmed for Tibetan spiritual leader's visit"

In CU-Boulder's Lego campus, Kenny is toast

CU-Boulder Lego Campus

Lego bricks were brought in from overseas to complete the Lego rendition of the CU-Boulder campus at the CU Heritage Center located in Old Main. Make sure you watch the time-lapse video below.

A half-million Legos have taken the shape of a whimsical CU-Boulder campus at our Heritage Center, a hidden gem of a museum on the third floor of Old Main. We're calling it "Hit the Bricks" and it’s been so popular we think it may double our 27,000 annual visitors to the Heritage Center and even increase rental use of the facility.

"Hit the Bricks" features iconic campus buildings like Old Main, Macky Auditorium, the Mary Rippon Theatre and Folsom Field. As an honor to our space legacy, Voyager and Apollo spacecrafts hang from above. The display features lots of action on campus with Ralphie and her handlers, a bear rescue that hopefully ends well and a dinosaur excavation. There's a tribute to South Park, in honor of our student/alumni duo who created the popular cartoon series, featuring Kyle, Stan and Cartman. And there's a Buffalo stampede that takes out Kenny.

The display uses rare Lego pieces that had to be obtained from around the world—appropriate given CU-Boulder's international influence. It's great fun, it's free and it's a long-standing exhibit at the Heritage Center. Plan to visit the Heritage Center next time you are on campus. In the meantime, enjoy this time lapse video of "Hit the Bricks."

Computers to Youth program transforms futures

Our Computers to Youth program takes obsolete campus computers, updates them and gives them to low-income youth so they have access to technology they would not otherwise have. That's exactly what happened to Basheer Mohamed, now a sophomore engineering major at CU. Basheer embodies why we do what we do at CU. Watch his story and see why it's important that the program has given away over 400 computers.

[videoicon /] 9News, Dec. 19: "Students rehab old computers for needy"

A gift hits a high note for music and economics

CU Music students

With tremendous help from donors, the College of Music is ranked No. 9 among public universities and 23rd among 650 accredited programs in the United States.

Did you know the College of Music is ranked No. 9 among all public university music programs? Or ranked 23rd out of 650 accredited music programs in the United States?

We are fortunate that some do know this. Just before Thanksgiving, CU-Boulder received its largest gift in seven years. The $6 million posthumous gift by alumnus Eugene D. Eaton Jr. endows a faculty chair in the College of Music and a chair in the Department of Economics, plus creates a travel sabbatical program for economics students. Mr. Eaton, a colorful, scholarly, well-traveled Renaissance man if there ever was one, truly leaves a legacy to his alma mater with his gift and we thank him and his family.

For the College of Music it was the fifth major gift in eight months, including three in the final months of 2014, and I want to thank all of our donors for these tremendous gifts that have helped make our highly ranked music school what it is today.

Denver Business Journal, Nov. 24: "$6 million donation to CU-Boulder is largest in 7 years"

CU-Boulder continues a proud and expanding aerospace legacy

New Horiizons spacecraft

New Horizons is 3 billion miles from Earth carrying CU-built instruments to explore Pluto. CU instruments have been to every planet in the solar system and Pluto.

Colorado has a robust and growing aerospace economy and CU-Boulder is a leader in supporting it as NASA's top-funded public university. The SpaceX launch to the International Space Station carrying CU-Boulder hardware and experiments was a success on Jan. 10.

Meanwhile, nearly 3 billion miles from Earth, New Horizons, carrying CU student-built instruments, is on a six-month flyby of Pluto following a nine-year journey to explore the dwarf planet and its moons. CU scientific instruments have now been flown to every planet in the solar system, plus Pluto (our favorite ex-planet). 

Last month, The New York Times featured MAVEN, our spacecraft studying the Martian atmosphere. You may recall that MAVEN entered Mars' orbit last September following a 10-month, 442-million-mile journey and a close brush with a comet.

New York Times, Dec. 8: "Looking to Mars to help understand changing climates"

CU in your neighborhood library

CU educational outreach faculty

CU-Boulder faculty member David Abbott holds an electronically charged bulb to show children the properties of light last month.

As a career educator and former high school teacher, I am particularly pleased to note that 56,000 K-12 students and 2,400 teachers from 72 school districts benefit annually from CU-Boulder faculty outreach. These are often hands-on projects and this was true recently at a public library in Broomfield, where young students 9 to 14 learned about the secrets of light in which they created light with mechanical, heat, electrical and chemical energy. Please enjoy this quick multimedia report in which you can witness education at work.

[videoicon /] Broomfield Enterprise, Dec. 29: "Youths, CU scientists light up Broomfield library with 'How Illuminating'"

Our community is grieving two losses

Beloved CU hurdler battles cancer

Despite his cancer Kyle MacIntosh continued to train hard. His goal was to qualify this spring for the Pac-12 400-meter hurdles finals for the second consecutive year.

Rob Miles, bassoonist

Robert Miles was a senior, double majoring in environmental engineering and bassoon performance, and was president of his engineering fraternity. 

As I write this, we are grieving the loss of two students, both outstanding members of our campus community.

 On Thursday we learned of the passing of track star Kyle MacIntosh to Ewing's sarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Kyle inspired us all in the way he battled for more than a year and in the way he lived his life. He was a friend to many. 

His teammates and the Buff community rallied around him  and his loss strikes at our hearts. Kyle was a proud Buff who was rarely seen without his Buff gear on. He continued to train until recently and despite his illness his goal was to qualify this spring for the Pac-12 400-meter hurdles finals for the second consecutive year. Kyle was a champion in competition and in life. You may donate to Kyle’s family fund here.

Boulder Daily Camera, Jan. 30: “CU runner Kyle MacIntosh's brave battle ends; Athlete inspired many with fight against cancer”

Last month we lost a quiet leader, a scholar and a talented musician to a ski accident. Robert Miles was a senior on full scholarship double majoring in bassoon performance and environmental engineering who lived life to the fullest. Robert was recently elected to his second term as president of the engineering fraternity, Theta Tau, and won numerous awards for his bassoon playing as a soloist and a member of various orchestras, bands, quintets, quartets and duets. A big sports fan, the CU Buffs were always No. 1 with him.

A memorial service  to celebrate Rob’s life is Monday at Grusin Music Hall. His family and friends have established the Robert A. Miles Bassoon Scholarship in celebration of Rob’s life. Please click here to donate.

Both of these young men led by example and inspired us in their unique ways. We are proud to call them Buffs and we are feeling their loss.


Philip P. DiStefano