Quigg & Virginia Newton

Quigg and Virginia Newton (Courtesy of the CU Heritage Center)

The center was born out of a critical need to meet the chancellor's imperative of shaping tomorrow's leaders. The center has housed both operations and leadership to allow for extensive attention to be paid to both initiatives. The Center for Leadership came to fruition from the programming, research and collaboration made possible by the Newton Chair in Leadership, established by the Newtons, CU Boulder and the Boettcher Foundation to pay tribute to Quigg Newton's extraordinary leadership throughout the region and specifically at CU Boulder.

The Boettcher Foundation Trustees approved a $500,000 grant in August 2001, along with funding from CU, to endow the chair in honor of Quigg and Virginia Newton’s dedication to CU. Since then, the El Pomar Foundation and other individuals have joined in support.

James “Quigg” Newton Jr. was one of the three early supporters of the Boettcher Foundation. Quigg Newton served on the Boettcher Foundation Board of Trustees from 1937 to 1955 and was secretary of the board for his entire tenure. During that period, he participated in the granting of more than $4 million to roughly 140 Colorado organizations.

Newton served as mayor of Denver from 1947 to 1955. He was the youngest mayor of Denver and the first Denver mayor born in Colorado. His interest in education and his proven leadership ability led him to become the University of Colorado's eighth president from 1956 to 1963.

William E. Davis describes the Newton presidency in his book, Glory Colorado: A History of the University of Colorado:

"History will record that this era marked a pivotal point in the colorful narrative of this distinguished institution, for it was during this period that the University changed dramatically forever. It emerged from being a first-rate teaching and graduate institution to become one of the handful of the nation's most prestigious research universities."

Newton's leadership was instrumental for CU and resulted in the establishment of many important laboratories and institutes, including the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), the Nuclear Physics Laboratory, the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, the High Altitude Observatory, and the Institute for Computing Science.

Newton's presidency marked a period of great physical and academic growth. He was proud of the CU Boulder’s advancements in interdisciplinary work, such as the Institute of Behavioral Science. International education was also a high priority for Newton, who helped bring greater emphasis to international activities at CU. President Newton died in 2003.

Virginia Shafroth Newton, wife of Quigg Newton, is a third-generation Colorado native. "Ginny" Newton received an AB from Vassar College, an MA from the University of Colorado and a PhD from New York University. She taught piano part time for 18 years, worked as a counselor and as a consultant in inner-city schools in New York, and later as a research consultant to the Rockefeller National Commission on Humanities at Stanford University. She served as a trustee at Vassar College and as director on the boards of the National Camp Fire Girls and the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities.