CU President Bruce Benson and his wife, Marcy, address the crowd for the donor dinner

A festive mood filled the Seawell Ballroom Thursday night as leaders of the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Foundation honored the many contributors to the foundation’s Creating Futures campaign.

Invited guests filled the room for the Fifth Annual Donor Recognition Dinner at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

The evening’s emcees, Foundation President and CEO Wayne Hutchens and Board Chairwoman Mary Lee Beauregard, were upbeat about the campaign’s success in moving toward the $1.5 billion goal.

“Every year we attract new donors and new opportunities,” Beauregard said. “You are truly the engine that drives the CU System.”

The event also honored several donors whose contributions, in Hutchens’ words, “are making a transformative difference” at the university.

Before the honorees were introduced, each prefaced by a compelling video presentation, university leadership delivered remarks, starting with CU President Bruce Benson and his wife, Marcy. They are co-chairs of the Creating Futures campaign.

Benson thanked donors for their generosity and loyalty to the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Our university is a place that changes lives through education, research and clinical activities,” he said. “Your involvement is a key part of the success and it adds value to all of our endeavors.”

He pointed out several members of the CU Board of Regents in the audience: Chairman Kyle Hybl, Vice Chair Mike Carrigan, Sue Sharkey, Steve Bosley and Irene Griego.

In introducing the leadership of the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, Beauregard told a story about how she earned her master’s degree in the School of Public Affairs in the early 1980s.

“Now the downtown campus has over 15,000 students and awards more graduate degrees than any other CU campus,” Beauregard said. “And CU’s health programs have flourished at the Anschutz Medical Campus.”

Chancellor Jerry Wartgow expounded on the Denver campus transformation. He highlighted initiatives on serving veteran students and the “P-20” education pipeline as well as the ground-breaking research occurring throughout the campus’s schools and colleges. He said the new Business School on Lawrence Street will serve as “the crossroads of business and higher education, a hub of discovery and innovation.”

“In an environment that’s characterized by a downward spiral of public funding for higher education,” Wartgow said, “your generosity helps us not only mitigate the negative impact of this reality, but indeed to make new, life-changing opportunities in education, research and community outreach.”

Lilly Marks, vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus, said the Anschutz Medical Campus is the primary source for training Colorado’s health care professionals. After a “remarkable decade” of growth, the campus is a nationally recognized – and envied – health care city.

“Again, through your generosity, commitment and loyalty, you are holding up the sky for all of us and bringing hope and creating a legacy of health to so many people,” Marks told the donors.

Special honorees at the dinner were:

  • Peter and Linda deLeon: Establishing the Linda and Peter deLeon Fund for the Enhancement of the Study of Public Affairs, the deLeons will enhance the quality of education by supporting students and faculty who have an interest in the public sector. Their fund will provide opportunities for research projects, presentations and propitious events at the school, and will focus on the PhD students to whom the deLeons devoted much of their careers. Both deLeons have been on the faculty of the School of Public Affairs for more than 20 years. Peter, who will retire this year, recently received the University of Colorado Distinguished Professor award.
  • Fred and Jane Hamilton. In 2000, after receiving thyroid treatment from Chip Ridgway, MD, Fred Hamilton started the first endowment in the Division of Endocrinology in the School of Medicine. The support provided a platform for Ridgway to spend more time taking a leading role in the design of the Anschutz Medical Campus. Fred also started several other funds in 2010 to support research in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer and macular degeneration.
  • George and Betsy Wiegers. In 2007, George Wiegers read an article that called for a national network of depression centers. He began an investment in this area at the University of Michigan and, in 2008, the Wiegers Family Foundation founded the University of Colorado Depression Center with a $4.5 million gift. Included in the gift is a $1 million challenge grant that George is matching dollar for dollar. There is now a network of 21 depression centers around the country.
  • Pinnacol Assurance. Pinnacol, a statewide leader in workers’ compensation insurance, has partnered with the University of Colorado Denver Business School to create the Risk Management and Insurance Program. It is the first in Colorado to offer both undergraduate and graduate business degrees with an emphasis in insurance and risk.

Hutchens said the past five years represent the most successful fundraising period in the foundation’s history.

He credited the university’s leadership for that success and said, “That’s why we’re where we are and why we’re celebrating.”

(Photo: University of Colorado President Bruce Benson welcomes the invited guests to the annual Donor Recognition Dinner as his wife, Marcy, and Mary Lee Beauregard, chairwoman of the University of Colorado Foundation Board of Directors, look on.)

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