Schematic drawing of the Academic Building One to be built at CU Denver

University staff got the chance to learn from each other as well as hear about the University of Colorado Denver’s new academic building during the Second Student Affairs Conference today at the Tivoli Student Union.

Raul Cardenas, PhD, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, said the day-long conference’s objective is for university staff to share their expertise and build relationships with an overall mission of bettering services to students. The first Student Affairs Conference took place in January.

Provost Roderick Nairn, PhD, thanked the more than 100 attendees for their service to students — the core of the university. “What we do is help them to become better, whether that’s to be better educated, get a better job, to enjoy life more … all of it is about getting better. And that’s what you do,” Nairn said. “That’s why what you do is so important.”

Cary Weatherford, senior institutional planner, Office of Institutional Planning, and architect David Pfeifer gave a summary of Academic Building One. The building recently received Board of Regents approval and will be built at the corner of Larimer Street and Speer Boulevard on the site of Parking Lot R. The 128,000-square-foot structure will be owned by the university and include offices for student affairs, student financial services, admissions, registrar and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as classroom space.

“This building is going to be the front door of the university,” Weatherford said. “This is an incredible opportunity for us to put a very prominent building right down in the center of our institutional neighborhood.”

The project includes renovation and backfill to the spaces being vacated when faculty and staff move into the new building, which is targeted to open by fall semester 2014. Backfill projects should be completed by fall 2015, Weatherford said.

He said the new building will be the heart of CU Denver’s neighborhood, which includes plans for future buildings and parking. Academic Building One will be L-shaped — five stories tall along Larimer Street and two stories along Speer.

“I’ve been here 12 years and I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from students that they don’t know where to go, they go back and forth across Speer, it’s frustrating for them,” Weatherford said. “No more. We’re going to get you all in the same building. If someone’s coming here for the first time … this building is where we want them to go.”

It will also consolidate departments within CLAS, specifically history, political science, communications, master of humanities and master of sciences. The two-story academic wing along Speer will house four lecture halls, including a 350-seat auditorium. The Larimer Street crossing at Speer will be made safer and more pedestrian friendly.

Pfeifer, of AndersonMasonDale Architects, said the university’s various affected departments and offices have been “extremely collaborative in helping us come up with the design of the building.” He said part of the plan is to make Academic Building One feel more like the urban fabric of lower downtown. “We couldn’t ask for a better address for this building,” he said. “If you’re trying to advance student services … we couldn’t ask for a better site.”

A student asked about plans to make up for the Lot R spaces being lost, since parking is at a premium on the campus. Weatherford said the university has plans to build a garage on a site just to the south toward the Tivoli. “We’re hoping to do some kind of public-private partnership and get the garage sooner than it would typically take to get the project through and funded,” he said.

Another conference participant asked about the CU Denver student government’s work toward naming a mascot.

Nairn said the process is in its late stages, but still requires a few steps. “There are identity issues, I think, for students, faculty and staff with the fact that Metro (State) and CCD (Community College of Denver) share the campus with us,” he said. “I think the mascot goes some ways toward helping with that.”

He added that the new academic building and the growth of the university neighborhood will also contribute to a clearer identity for CU Denver.

The Student Affairs Conference included breakout sessions on alternative break programs, serving students with disabilities, emergency preparedness, cultural understanding, outreach models and advising for study abroad.

Service certificates were awarded to staff members who have reached milestone anniversaries. They were:

  • Five-year service: John Patsey (Academic Success and Advising Center), Teresa DeHerrera (TRiO Student Support Services Program), Larry Loften (Center for Student Advocacy), Leticia Aguirre (Pre-Collegiate and Academic Outreach Programs)
  • Ten-year service: Nimol Hen (Academic Success and Advising Center), Mary Francavilla (Scholarship Resource Office), Cheryl Kaas (Learning Resources Center)
  • Fifteen-year service: Quynh Nhu Hoang (Admissions Office), Khushnur Dadabhoy (Office of Student Life – Student Activities)
  • Thirty-five-year service: Betty Phelps, (Registrar’s Office).
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