“This is a story about beginnings.” So opens the new book commemorating CU Denver’s 40th anniversary, The Road to Independence and Beyond. But it is about much more than that.

While encompassing CU’s entire history in Denver, the book focuses on the tumultuous years surrounding CU Denver’s official creation and its early fights for survival. It recalls tremendous change over the past 40 years, to the university and the City of Denver. It also evokes the many meanings the institution has had for faculty, students, staff, and administrators—and the many hopes for the future.

The story begins in 1912, when CU first offered classes in Denver through its Extension Division. After decades of moving from one building to another, in 1956 the Denver Extension landed in the iconic Tramway Building (today’s Hotel Teatro at 14th and Arapahoe Streets). Here CU Denver’s champions built and defended the institution that gained independence in 1973, spread to the Auraria Campus in 1977, and struggled for existence in the thorny higher-education environment of the late 1970s before emerging as today’s vibrant urban university.

The idea for the book arose within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). A committed group of retired and current faculty, staff, and administrators propelled the project under the leadership of former CLAS Dean Dan Howard and his staff. These efforts were particularly energized by Dick Dillon, an emeritus English professor who also served terms as vice chancellor for academic affairs and CLAS associate dean.

This team brought on Jarett Zuboy, a master’s student in CU Denver’s History Department, to research and write the book. Zuboy interviewed the CLAS group and reviewed numerous documents about the university’s history. As interest in the project grew, he expanded his research to represent views from the colleges/schools of Engineering and Applied Science, Public Affairs, Architecture and Planning, Education and Human Development, Business, and Arts & Media.

Current faculty members who contributed include Political Science Professor Michael Cummings (who started at the Denver Extension in 1968), Chemistry Professor and Special Assistant to the Provost Bob Damrauer (1968), Criminal Justice Professor Mark Pogrebin (1976), Political Science Professor Jana Everett (1974), and History Senior Instructor Christine Sundberg (who earned her CU Denver master’s degree in 1989 and has taught here since 1997).

“Hearing from the people who actually lived and shaped the university’s history captures the amazing spirit of the times,” Zuboy said.

Copies of The Road to Independence and Beyond (pdf 16MB) were shared at the recent CU Denver 40th Anniversary celebration held in the Denver Performing Arts Complex’s Seawell Ballroom. In addition to the online version,free printed copies of the paperback book are available by contacting [email protected].

See more online about the 40th Anniversary at Honoring our history, celebrating our future.

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