University and state leaders joined with students and faculty this morning to celebrate the opening of the University of Colorado Denver’s new Business School, hailed as a center of innovation, entrepreneurship and world-class education.
Business School Dean Sueann Ambron said the LEED Gold-certified facility at 15th and Lawrence streets is far more than just a building. “We’ve really built a hub for the development of partnerships, the development of programs and the development of future leaders in Denver,” Ambron said. “… The students are here. The reason we’re doing this is for you. This is your building.”
The festive mood extended onto Lawrence Street, where a first-ever Block Party welcomed CU Denver students to the fall semester and the campus’s first building dedicated to a specific school.
Other speakers at the “We Are Open for Business” celebration included Gov. John Hickenlooper, Chancellor Don Elliman, University of Colorado President Bruce Benson and Michael Carrigan, chairman of the CU Board of Regents.
Hickenlooper called the Business School’s opening a “momentous occasion.” He recalled that Ambron approached him four years ago, when he was mayor of Denver, about assisting with the fund-raising campaign. Ambron and others in the university’s leadership had a vision “that the future was going to be more prosperous” than it was back then when the recession was deepening, he said.
The governor noted that the Business School is located in the center of a metropolitan area that generates $150 billion a year in commerce. “This is a perfect time to launch this building,” he said. “….Thank you from a grateful state. We look forward to working together with you to make this into the greatest business school that ever could be imagined.”
Elliman said the Business School is by far the largest graduate business school in the state. It capitalizes on its downtown location with business partnerships that have led to innovative programs such as Global Energy Management, Risk Management and Insurance and the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities.
“We see this building as a foundation for increasing and expanding upon our connection to the community,” Elliman said. “It couldn’t be better situated. It’s our connection to the urban market.”
Benson said the new building links CU Denver to the city and the state, providing a “face of entrepreneurship and innovative programs.” He thanked the many donors and said the school provides a critical service and education link to the community. “This is entrepreneurship and private-public partnerships, which are what we really need in this state,” Benson said.
Carrigan said the school is located at the heart of Colorado’s economy. University faculty are not just educating students, but are deeply integrated in the business community. “We are a cornerstone of the state’s economy,” Carrigan said. “We don’t want to be just a pipeline of students, but be part of the financial engine of the state.”
The six-story building, which features ample collaborative spaces and flexible classrooms, was designed by international design firm RNL and constructed by GH Phipps. The university bought the building for $24 million and invested $20 million in renovations.
Manuel Serapio, PhD, associate professor of international business, thanked Ambron for her unwavering leadership. “Dean Ambron fulfilled her vision to build and open this new Business School building,” he said. “Because of her hard work we are standing here today.”
Serapio said the Business School will also be the home of an artistic piece that reflects Ambron’s values of teamwork, collaboration, global perspectives and links between academic and business communities.
Ambron was noticeably touched by the gesture and then took the stage to join with the assembled dignitaries, who included U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Benson’s wife, Marcy Benson, for the ribbon cutting. She then told the large gathering to enjoy tours of the building and the Block Party.
“We’re open for business. Come back and see us. Thank you very much,” Ambron said.
(Photo: Business School Dean Sueann Ambron receives a ‘Thank You’ card from Associate Professor Manuel Serapio during the grand opening celebration of the new Business School.)