The CU Board of Regents today approved the renaming of the Fleming Building to honor the lasting legacies and contributions of former CU Boulder School of Education faculty members Ofelia Miramontes and Leonard Baca.
With the unanimous approval of the regents, the campus will move forward with a recommendation to rename Fleming the Ofelia Miramontes and Leonard Baca Education Building, which is the new home of CU Boulder’s School of Education. The school shares the space with the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s mechanical engineering department and the Idea Forge, a collaborative design and innovation space.
Miramontes, who died in 2005, was a beloved and highly respected education professor and a pioneering bilingual education scholar who served as CU Boulder’s first associate vice chancellor for diversity and equity. She led the creation of the CU LEAD Alliance, a set of learning communities focused on inclusiveness and student success, and the Miramontes Arts and Sciences Program, a supportive academic community for first-generation students, many from communities of color.
Baca, who became known as “the father of bilingual special education,” was an assistant professor of education when he conceptualized and created the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education in 1975. During his tenure as director, the BUENO center generated more than $100 million to fund programs for educators and to provide education access to first-generation students, including students of color from minoritized communities seeking GEDs to PhDs.
Following the regents’ vote, Chancellor Philip DiStefano expressed gratitude to the regents and campus committee members who selected Miramontes and Baca as the namesakes of the school’s new home.
“I was fortunate to begin my career as a colleague of both Ofelia and Leonard in the School of Education, and they quickly emerged as leaders and visionaries in their fields and across the university,” DiStefano said. “Ofelia’s and Leonard’s contributions embody what it means to center equity, diversity and justice in education, and naming the building after them honors them as individuals and as important role models for the educators and students who follow in their footsteps.”
School of Education Dean Kathy Schultz said a committee of alumni, donors, students, staff and faculty from the School of Education and the College of Engineering and Applied Science selected the building’s new namesakes through a deliberative process that included reviewing a broad list of nominations.
The committee reviewed 40 submissions, using regent guidelines for honorary building naming and criteria unique to this project. The criteria included contributions by nominees who embodied the School of Education’s commitments to democracy, diversity, equity and justice; supported the education of informed educators, researchers, policymakers and community leaders; and transformed the field of education and educational practices in pre-K and K-12 schools and universities.
“We are indebted to the committee for their careful, collaborative and compassionate work to select a name that has so much meaning for the School of Education,” Schultz said. “As mentors, scholars, leaders, teachers and activists, Ofelia and Leonard opened doors for countless educators and students of color, modeling new ways of being scholars and activists that remain important to us all.”
The 64-year-old Miramontes Baca Building is undergoing renovations that include interactive classrooms, workspaces for doctoral students and community spaces for students, staff and faculty. The renovations are expected to be completed in fall 2023 through a capital fundraising campaign. Previously, the building housed the CU Boulder Law School, and its former namesake John D. Fleming was dean of the law school in the early 1900s.
The naming and renaming of buildings provides the campus with opportunities to share the stories of leaders who have made impactful, enduring contributions to the CU Boulder community. In 2021, the regents approved the renaming of two other campus buildings, making the education building the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Building and the Temporary Building 1 the Albert and Vera Ramírez Temporary Building 1.
Sara McDonald, senior director of operations in the School of Education and a member of the naming selection committee, “grew up” in the school where her mother worked for 30 years and is excited to share the legacies of Miramontes and Baca. The esteemed faculty members encouraged her as an undergraduate and influenced her decision to work for the school, she added.
“I, and others, consider them mentors, colleagues and family,” McDonald said. “When I see the Miramontes Baca name, I feel proud of what this representation means for our campus, and I hope students are inspired to carry out work that is compassionate, kind and focused on justice—just how I remember Ofelia and Leonard to be.”
Ofelia Miramontes, who died in 2005, was a beloved and highly respected professor in the School of Education and a pioneering bilingual education scholar across K-12 and higher education. She served as CU Boulder’s first associate vice chancellor for diversity—long before many other higher institutions had elevated such critical work.
As associate vice chancellor, Miramontes created the CU LEAD Alliance and established an undergraduate scholarship program for first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students in the College of Arts and Sciences that bears her name. After her passing, a fellowship program for education doctoral students researching educational equity and cultural diversity was established in her honor.
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Miramontes developed and implemented the city’s first federally funded bilingual education program. She was also instrumental in creating bilingual programs in the Boulder Valley School District and across the world.
Leonard Baca is a well-regarded researcher in a field he initiated: bilingual special education, which aims to address the overrepresentation of bilingual children in special education classes and a general misunderstanding of the differences between language and learning issues in bilingual and general education.
Baca, who grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, developed his work in the early 1980s and became known as “the father of bilingual special education.” He co-authored the seminal textbook The Bilingual Special Education Interface, which for decades has been touted as the central work at the nexus of bilingual and special education.
Hired as an assistant professor of education in 1974, Baca created the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education the following year, and it was the first center in the School of Education. During his tenure as director, the BUENO Center generated more than $100 million to fund programs for educators and to provide education access to first-generation students, including students of color from minoritized communities seeking GEDs to PhDs.