In 1899, 23 years after the University of Colorado Boulder was established, a Greek professor began his career at the university.
After three decades of service, 22 of which were as CU president, the school was forever changed.
George Norlin became president of CU in 1917. During his tenure, he oversaw the implementation of Charles Klauder’s iconic architectural designs for the campus, watched the student population triple and completed a $4 million building program despite the troubles of the Great Depression, according to the CU Heritage Center.
CU was thriving as one of the best universities in the nation.
But it was Norlin’s dedication to humanity that established his greatest legacy.
In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan demanded Norlin fire all Catholic and Jewish faculty. If he complied, he would receive the legislative support he needed from the state of Colorado.
“We can, perhaps, afford to play politics with many things, but not with education,” he said.
His commitment to the betterment of the people who comprised CU helped contribute to the long-term successes of the university today.
At the June 1935 commencement ceremony, Norlin told the graduates: “Wherever you go, the university goes with you. Wherever you are at work, there is the university at work.”
The words were part of a written charge now read to the graduating class each year. Each spring they serve as a reminder that CU is more than a fleeting experience; instead, it is who we are.