Published: Feb. 11, 2021

The University of Colorado Board of Regents today approved resolutions to rename two campus buildings––one after pioneering alumna and lifelong educator Lucile Berkeley Buchanan and another after Professor Emeritus Albert Ramírez and Vera, his late wife, who for many years provided support, mentorship and guidance to first-generation and other underrepresented students.

The regents voted unanimously to approve a resolution introduced by Chancellor Philip DiStefano to rename the education building the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Building; they voted 8-1 to approve a resolution by the chancellor to rename Temporary Building 1 or “TB1” the Albert and Vera Ramírez Temporary Building 1.

In introducing the resolutions before the regents voted, both the chancellor and CU President Mark Kennedy said the plan to rename the education building after Buchanan was a fitting tribute, given her lifetime dedication to teaching.

In a statement, DiStefano said of the buildings’ new namesakes, “All three embody a quality we call ‘inclusive excellence.’ Each left an indelible mark on CU and the communities they served, contributing to our collective history in unique ways.”

Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Building

Lucile Berkeley Buchanan (from the Buchanan Archives)

Lucile Berkeley Buchanan (from the Buchanan Archives)

DiStefano said the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Building would be the home of the Miramontes Arts & Sciences Program, an inclusive academic community within the university’s largest college dedicated to academic excellence, and the Student Academic Success Center, a multicultural academic learning community that serves low-income and first-generation college students.

“It’s fitting that we are naming the building the Buchanan Building, which will house these important programs for students,” the chancellor told the regents.

In a statement, Kennedy said of Buchanan, “Her passion and her calling was teaching, particularly teaching those who desperately wanted and needed an education, and by all accounts, she was a remarkable teacher.”

Born in Denver, Buchanan was the eldest daughter of emancipated slaves from Virginia who came to Colorado in pursuit of a new life near the Rocky Mountain foothills. She graduated from CU Boulder in 1918 with a degree in German as World War I neared its end, and the 1918 Flu Pandemic ravaged the lives of millions of people around the globe.

In one of the most shameful chapters of campus history, her photo was not included in the yearbook and university administrators denied Buchanan––the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder––the opportunity to walk across the Macky Auditorium stage to receive her degree alongside her classmates. On that spring day, she was accompanied by her mother, two sisters and a niece who were there to celebrate her achievement.

CU Boulder media studies Associate Professor Polly Bugros McLean chronicled Buchanan’s life for the first time in her 2018 book, “Remembering Lucile: A Virginia Family’s Rise from Slavery and a Legacy Forged a Mile High.”

A synopsis of her book includes the following: “Lucile refused to be defined by the racist and sexist climate of her times, settling on a career path in teaching that required great courage in the face of pernicious Jim Crow laws. Embracing her sister’s dream for higher education and W. E. B. Du Bois’s ideology, she placed education and intelligence at the forefront of her life, teaching in places where she could most benefit African American students.”

In 2018, on the 100-year anniversary of Buchanan’s graduation, McLean crossed the Macky stage to honor her and later delivered the inaugural Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Lecture at Old Main.

Buchanan’s life work as an educator “enabled thousands of students of color to lift themselves out of poverty, overcome oppression and realize their dreams,” DiStefano said in a statement. “She embodies the truest meaning of our university motto as it is inscribed on our seal––to ‘let your light shine.’ Renaming our education building in her honor is perhaps the best way to ensure that her academic achievements and lifetime legacy will live on.”

Albert and Vera Ramírez Temporary Building 1

Professor Emeritus Albert Ramírez and his late wife, Vera.

Professor Emeritus Albert Ramírez and his late wife, Vera.

Built in 1898 as a teaching hospital, TB1 was also the site of Chicano and Chicana rights demonstrations in the 1970s that raised awareness for the need for academic programs and support services for underrepresented students.

Because of the historical significance of TB1 as a teaching hospital, Boulder’s first community hospital and the site of historic student activism, the chancellor said the decision to unite the building’s longtime name with the Ramírezes’ name was made to honor their legacy as role models and leaders who supported academic excellence, inclusivity and student success. The building is one of the oldest buildings on the CU Boulder campus.

Ramírez, who lives in Boulder, said he was one of a small group of Chicano faculty to witness the events of the spring of 1974 “and it forever changed my life.” He and his late wife became well-known for their support of Mexican American and other underrepresented students who were acclimating to college life and did not often feel welcome on campus.

The Ramírezes welcomed students to weekly Sunday gatherings at their home they called “Domingo en Casa” or “Sunday at home,” offering guidance, encouragement and home-cooked meals to students, many of them first-generation scholars, DiStefano said.

Professor Ramírez was one of the first faculty members from an underrepresented group to achieve tenure as a full professor and he served as an associate dean of the Graduate School and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

In these roles, he advocated for the creation of the Center for the Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America and the ethnic studies department and founded and hosted the Equity and Excellence Awards Ceremony for many years.

Grateful for the regents’ approval of the resolutions, Ramírez said he looked forward to working with the campus to make TB1 “a living recognition and symbol of 50 years of dedication and commitment on the part of students, faculty and staff in working toward our common goal: achieving equity and excellence in each and every fabric of our university.”