A tribute to the Bensons’ leadership for the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado BoulderBruce and Marcy Benson

In the best of worlds, each generation inspires the next. The world-renowned Department of Geological Sciences at CU Boulder has long held this tradition. Our highly accomplished faculty and alumni have educated undergraduate and graduate students for decades, setting them up for success in many diverse fields of geology. Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64), and his wife, Marcy Benson, stand out as two of our most inspirational leaders.

A Decade of Leadership

Now in their 11th year of leadership, Bruce and Marcy Benson are the longest tenured president and first lady of the University of Colorado in the past 65 years. Since taking the helm of his alma mater, President Benson has enhanced CU’s standing as one of the nation’s leading public universities. During his tenure, CU’s research funding has reached record levels, supporting the university’s research strengths in biotechnology, health care, energy and aerospace engineering, among others. Annual philanthropic support for CU has increased from $135 million to $440 million. Marcy Benson has volunteered for the University of Colorado in several capacities, including co-chairing (with her husband) two fundraising campaigns of $1 billion and $1.5 billion respectively, and continues to work with the university on a variety of fundraising and other initiatives. Since the early 1990s, she has been an active community volunteer, serving on the Board of Directors of Children’s Hospital Colorado, chairing the Children’s Hospital Foundation, co-chairing the campaign that was a major driving force to build the new hospital on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and assuming many other leadership roles in the state.

Over 20 years ago, the Bensons made a transformational gift that provided a new home for the Department of Geological Sciences. The Benson Earth Sciences building has given the department the opportunity to flourish. The students and faculty inside these classrooms and research labs have propelled the department into top rankings internationally over the past two decades.

In recognition of the Bensons’ distinguished professional careers, personal generosity and lifelong commitment to expanding access to higher education, the Geological Sciences Advisory Board, in coordination with the Geological Sciences Department and CU Advancement, is pleased to announce the creation of the Marcy and Bruce Benson Fellowship Fund for Excellence. This fund responds to the department’s acute need for endowed graduate fellowships, increasing the department’s ability to recruit, retain and graduate the world’s best geoscience students. As an endowed fellowship, it will return enough money annually to support a graduate student position in perpetuity. These students will embody the commitment and talent required to push themselves, this department, the university and the entire field of geology to the highest levels of success.

Why Graduate Student Fellowships?

  • Compete for Top Talent: While the University of Colorado Boulder was recently named the world’s second-best University for Geosciences, the department’s graduate program is ninth in the country. With private resources to offer fellowships, the University can compete with peer institutions to attract and train the very best students, while reducing our dependence on variable Federal funding.
  • Ground-Breaking Research: Graduate students play a critical role in the innovative research conducted on the Boulder campus. Guided by faculty, graduate students drive many of our research projects, ultimately leading to their advanced degrees, publications, and continued personal and departmental success.
  • Undergraduate Education: Graduate students are integral to our undergraduate education experience. They serve a unique role in mentoring, engaging undergraduate students in the field and research labs, and assisting in classrooms.

Our Vision

At least 20 named graduate fellowships established though $1 million endowments each. This will generate funds to fully support the annual tuition and stipend for 20 graduate students, approximately 30% of our graduate student population.

Additional Impacts Your Donation Can Make

Fellowship funds can be named for the donor(s) or as a tribute to another person. Beyond just naming a fund, a Graduate Fellowship can aim to have specific impact on:

  • A particular field of geology like geoenergy - geobiology and geochemistry – paleoclimate – hydrology – or - geophysics, geomorphology, and geodesy.
  • Discovery research in support of seed-funding to pursue new ideas that are considered high-risk and high-reward.
  • Scientific communication outreach so that students can share their research to broader audiences through popular-science writing, filming, or multimedia.
  • Enhanced diversity so the department attracts and retains students from underrepresented groups such as minorities, veterans, women, or first-generation graduate students.

To Learn More:

Please contact us if you have questions regarding this ambitious initiative and how you can help make it a reality.

Department of Geological Sciences
Chair and Professor Shemin Ge
University of Colorado Boulder
Campus Box 399
Boulder, CO 80309

Office of Advancement
Jazmin Brooks, Associate Director of Development
College of Arts and Sciences
1305 University Ave., 461 UCB
Boulder, CO  80302