Published: Oct. 29, 2018 By

Beginning Jan. 1, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano will serve as the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership.

Phil DiStefano

Chancellor Phil DiStefano

The prestigious role was created in 2006 to honor former CU President and Denver Mayor Quigg Newton and his wife Virginia, and has been filled for the past seven years by former CU President Alexander “Sandy” Bracken. The transition of the high-profile post to the CU Boulder chancellor comes as Bracken announces his retirement from the university, effective Dec. 31, 2018.

“Sandy is an extraordinary leader in his own right who has brought remarkable energy and ideas to this post, and I thank him for his dedicated service,” said DiStefano. “We both agree that building the Newton chair into the campus’s leadership structure will ensure continued support for campus leadership initiatives for years to come.”

Among other things, Bracken was instrumental in creating the popular Leadership Studies Minor and the prestigious Leo Hill Distinguished Leadership Speaker Series that has brought former Secretary of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency Director Robert Gates and the first woman of color in space, astronaut Mae Jemison, to campus.

In addition, the Newton chair serves as a clearinghouse for campuswide leadership programs and supports the activities of several other marquee leadership programs, including the Presidents Leadership Class, INVST Community Leadership Program, CU Gold, CU Engage, Leeds Scholars Program, Business Leadership Certificate Program, CU Athletics Leadership Development Program, and the Engineering Leadership Program.

This March, the leadership speaker series under the Newton chair is bringing Abigail Posner, head of strategy for Google’s Brand Unit, to CU Boulder.

Sandy Bracken

Newton Leadership Chair and former CU President Alexander 'Sandy' Bracken

“It has been an honor to serve as the Newton Leadership Chair and help create programs that engage all undergraduates in developing tomorrow’s leaders, which is one of CU Boulder’s three strategic imperatives,” Bracken said. “Exposing our students to leadership opportunities is critical for a public university of this caliber, and will remain a priority under the chancellor’s direction.”

The chair also helps to bring experienced leaders from government, business, higher education, the military and the public sector to campus to interact with students and faculty and advise students on leadership paths.

Under the new structure, Aaron Roof, director of the President’s Leadership Class, will handle day-to-day operations of the chair.

Transforming CU into academic powerhouse

Newton, who served as CU president from Dec. 15, 1956, through June 30, 1963, was instrumental in revitalizing the honors program, and supporting education, music, history, economics, psychology and English.

Newton's leadership was instrumental during this period 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. International education was also a high priority for Newton, who helped bring greater emphasis to international activities at CU.

Quigg and Virginia Newton

Quigg and Virginia Newton

Virginia “Ginny” Shafroth Newton was a third-generation Coloradan who received an A.B. from Vassar College, an M.A. from CU and a Ph.D. from New York University. She taught piano part-time for 18 years and worked as a counselor and consultant in inner-city schools in New York City. 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.

In March 2003, the Newtons, CU Boulder and the Boettcher Foundation established the endowed chair in leadership. Quigg Newton died in 2003 at the age of 91; Ginny died in 2010 at the age of 90. Since their deaths, the El Pomar Foundation and other individuals have joined in support of the chair.

Former CU President and U.S. Sen. Hank Brown held the inaugural chair from 2008 to 2010. Bracken, who served as the 19th president of CU in 2000, was then named to the post. Prior to filling the Newton chair, Bracken was executive director of the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver’s School of Business from 2001-07 and spent 19 years as vice president for public affairs with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Learn more about campus leadership programs.