In many ways, CU is a far different place from when president Bruce D. Benson arrived more than 50 years ago. In other important ways, it hasn’t changed at all.
The University of Colorado will celebrate its sesquicentennial in a few years, which got me thinking — I’ve been associated with CU for a large part of my life and more than a third of the university’s.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as president these past 11 years. It will be bittersweet when I retire from the university in July. Like most of you, CU has made its mark on me, and I tried to return the favor.
In many ways, it’s a far different place from when I arrived more than 50 years ago. In other important ways, it hasn’t changed at all.
CU remains a place where opportunity abounds. It changes lives. And to borrow a marketing phrase from a few years back, in Boulder there are minds to match our mountains.
The campus obviously looks quite different from when I arrived in 1961 to study geology. It had just over 11,000 students then and has nearly 35,000 now. There are new buildings to meet the demands of more students. Technology is a huge change and will continue to be.
The campus also has a renewed commitment to free speech and the respectful debate and discussion of ideas. This ideal is exemplified in the Center for Western Civilization, Thought and Policy, which provides a forum to address some of the pressing issues of our time in an atmosphere of open, honest debate and discussion.
It’s a manifestation of our commitment to teach students how to think, not what to think. And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.
Despite the changes, the fundamental activities that have always made CU great remain firmly in place. Our faculty is first-rate. They are teachers, scholars and researchers, among the best in the world. People who taught me, like Bruce Curtis and Doc Thompson, passed the torch to people like Tom Cech and Patty Limerick and hundreds more like them.
Faculty still conduct research that changes lives and improves our society. CU is still a place that makes the world a better place. As I approach the end of my presidency and CU closes in on its 150th anniversary, I have every confidence that what makes us great remains the bedrock of our university.
Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci'04) became CU's president in 2008.