CU Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow, right, talks about partnerships at leadership forum

Invigorating the economy and the urban environment through partnerships.

That was the theme of Chancellor Jerry Wartgow’s presentation as part of the Rocky Mountain West Urban Leadership Symposium at the Ritz-Carlton downtown today. Wartgow spoke as part of a panel on “Engines of Innovation: Universities and Urban Economic Development.”

The day-long symposium, hosted by the Downtown Denver Partnership, attracted hundreds of elected officials, business executives and civic leaders from across the Rocky Mountain West. They discussed key issues and opportunities facing the urban centers of the West.

Sueann Ambron, dean of the University of Colorado Denver Business School, helped lead a breakout session on “Innovation in the Rocky Mountain West.”

During his panel discussion, Wartgow said partnerships between the university, business and government are critical to CU Denver’s goal to lead in educating the workforce that businesses need. For example, he noted, the university partnered with Encana Corp. to create a program in Global Energy Management and teamed with Pinnacol Assurance to launch the Risk Management and Insurance program. CU Denver has played a key role in helping Denver Mayor Michael Hancock develop his education compact.

Physically, the university is expanding its “education corridor” with the opening of the new Business School on Lawrence Street and the English as a Second Language Academy on the 16th Street Mall.

Wartgow, who served as executive director of the Auraria Higher Education Center, reflected on the changes of the downtown campus since the early 1980s.

“I was here at the inception of the Auraria campus,” he said. “It has grown and now we are reaching across into downtown. We are an anchor right in the middle of downtown with our new Business School, and everything we do we do in partnership with our business partners.”

Other speakers included Gov. John Hickenlooper, Mayor Hancock and Harvard University Professor Edward Glaeser, author of the book “Triumph of the City.”

Carol Coletta, director of ArtPlace, complimented Wartgow’s ideas on education during her speech on “The Young and the Restless: America’s Talent and Urban Trends.”

The chancellor said he spoke with Coletta at the symposium reception on Tuesday evening. “I was talking about the importance of viewing this as a whole system of education, and the transition between high school and college and how money could be better spent.”

(Photo: CU Denver Chancellor Jerry Wartgow, right, speaks during a panel presentation today at the Ritz-Carlton. At left is panelist Ted McAleer, executive director of Utah-based USTAR, and in the center is Wellington Reiter, senior vice president of the Arizona State University Foundation.)

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