Published: Sept. 1, 2013 By

bruce bensonThe state of Colorado and the University of Colorado were founded in the same year, 1876, and our fortunes have been intertwined ever since.

Coloradans recognized the value of higher education 137 years ago for reasons that remain compelling today. We educate our citizens. We innovate. We are a critical driver of the state’s economy. We advance knowledge. We enhance Colorado’s quality of life.

At CU our public mission is a big part of who we are. From the beginning, that mission has extended beyond the borders of campus. Today, faculty and students carry the university’s ideals to communities across our state. We are proud of how they represent the university and serve Colorado.

The depth and breadth of these activities is truly impressive. That’s why we have gathered them under the umbrella CU For Colorado. ( We want to demonstrate how we are engaged in projects and programs throughout the state that provide public service, science resources, health care, culture, community and social enhancements to communities large and small, urban and rural.

Consider a few examples. Our law school’s Colorado Law Constitution Day Project brings Colorado law students, alumni, faculty and local attorneys to high school classrooms across the state to deliver interactive lessons on the Constitution. The related Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project places upper-level law students in underserved high schools to join teachers to teach a class about the Constitution.

The Western Water Assessment research program addresses societal vulnerabilities related to climate, particularly in the area crucial to Colorado and water resources. Researchers in multiple disciplines — climatology, hydrology, ecology, social sciences and law — work with stakeholders in northeast and eastern Colorado to improve preparedness for climate variability and change.

Our Colorado Shakespeare Festival in the Schools troupe tours schools throughout Colorado. Performances introduce students to the arts and artistry of Shakespeare and conclude with classroom workshops about bullying and violence prevention.

These are only a few of the nearly 250 programs that are part of CU For Colorado. Our efforts are as diverse as our state and reflect the university’s key areas of focus: learning and teaching; discovery and innovation; health and wellness; and community and culture. Yet they also have a common thread — they make Colorado a better place. And that is precisely what the founders of our state and our university had in mind in 1876.

Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci ’04) is president of the University of Colorado. Please contact him at 303-860-5600 or