The new school year started with a bang and a block party—the second annual CU Denver Block Party on Aug. 22.

Bell bottoms, disco music and pet rocks were all the rage at this event in celebration of the university’s official establishment in 1973. Students, faculty, staff and community members came out to wish CU Denver a happy 40th Anniversary!


In 40 years, CU Denver has grown from a few classrooms in an old tram car barn to a complete and dynamic urban campus. With the beginning of each school year have come new programs, course offerings and opportunities for learning and research—and this year is no different.

Keep reading for this year’s exciting developments in our eight schools and colleges.

Training for the best job in the nation

College of Engineering and Applied ScienceWhat’s the best job in America? According to CNNMoney, it’s biomedical engineer—the same field in which the university has a brand-new undergraduate degree.

The first of its kind in Colorado, our new undergraduate bioengineering program trains students to create health care solutions using engineering concepts. The CU Board of Regents approved the program in September 2012, and students are being admitted for fall 2013 in this interdisciplinary program, which spans the Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campuses.

Other exciting developments at the College of Engineering and Applied Science include:

  • A new “motorsports” program in undergraduate mechanical engineering,
  • An additional 4,100 square feet of student work and lab space in the renovated 5th Street Hub, and
  • An Engineering Student Services Center in the North Classroom, offering advising, scholarship guidance, internship info and student organization meeting space.

Illustrating their skills

College of Arts & MediaWe’ve got good news for students dreaming of jobs like graphic novelist, children’s book author or video game character developer. Our new Illustration Emphasis in the College of Arts & Media (CAM) Visual Arts Department teaches the art of communicating ideas through both digital and traditional visual art media. Courses in this new emphasis will begin in fall 2013.

“In developing our curriculum, we looked at programs nationwide and consulted with visual arts faculty who have worked professionally as illustrators, as well as other illustrators in the field,” said Lanny DeVuono, associate professor of painting and drawing. “We are very much looking forward to the next few years!”

In other CAM news, the search is nearly complete for a new college dean, and the folks at CAM hope to welcome their new dean this summer.

Honoring our history

College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) is celebrating CU Denver’s 40th Anniversary in a big way. In March, the college hosted a lively panel event titled “The Road to Independence and Beyond”, which brought together faculty and administrators who helped the university achieve its independence in 1973.

CLAS is also developing a 40th Anniversary website, which will be available this year, featuring a carefully researched history of the university by history master’s student Jarett Zuboy.

“[This history] chronicles events from the Denver Extension’s birth in 1912 to CU Denver’s creation in 1973,” Zuboy wrote in the document’s overture. “[The 1960s and 1970s] were times of rapid, tumultuous change in higher education—in Denver, Colorado and the nation. When they had passed … a new, distinct institution took its first tenuous steps into the future.”

Taking learning online

School of Public AffairsThe School of Public Affairs (SPA) will launch an online Bachelor of Criminal Justice (PDF) program in fall 2013. One of the first undergraduate degrees at the university to be offered both completely online or completely on campus, the online Bachelor of Criminal Justice (BACJ) allows students to attend class whenever it’s convenient for them.

“A high percentage of BACJ students are also holding down internships, full-time or part-time jobs,” said Brendan Hardy, director of Student Recruitment & Career Services for SPA. “The online option will allow them to gain this experience while completing their major degree requirements online.”

Both new freshmen and transfer students can pursue this online degree, which will prepare them for careers in areas, such as law enforcement, government, victim services and the non-profit sector. Registration for the online BAJC has already begun, and Hardy estimates about 60 students will enroll for the first semester.

Offering the state’s one and only

College of Architecture and Planning“We’re delivering, for the first time ever, an undergraduate degree in architecture in Denver,” said Mark Gelernter, PhD, dean of the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP).

CAP began offering undergraduate architecture classes to transfer students last year and will welcome its first freshman class this fall 2013. Administrators anticipate about 125 newly enrolled undergrads for the first semester and expect the program to continue to grow from there.

The new Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BS Arch) gives CAP the distinction of being the only institution in Colorado to offer a full range of degrees in architecture and related disciplines, from pre-professional undergraduate to accredited professional master’s to doctorate.

Going global in business

Business SchoolAfter a year in its new building, the Business School has maintained its momentum, with its J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities becoming a leader in the field.

As the school’s innovative course offerings continue to expand, international opportunities abound. Business students now have the opportunity to study business in Chile, where the local diversified, free-market economy shares many characteristics with Colorado’s economy.

Meanwhile, students from the Executive MBA Health Administration program are trying to help Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. Led by Professor of Management and Health Administration Blair Gifford, PhD, students are traveling to Haiti and writing a business plan to aid economic development and health stability in the nation.

Advancing education for all people

School of Education and Human Development

The School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) opened a new Office of Diversity and Inclusion in September 2012, and the office is already active in its efforts to foster inclusion on campus and reach out to underserved populations in the city.

The office’s initiatives include K-12 outreach, community engagement and SEHD retention. In their first months of work, the staff have been busy:

  • Welcoming high school visitors to campus,
  • Planning an on-campus summer program for middle school students,
  • Launching the Black Youth & Family Community Initiative,
  • Hosting a Denver Public Schools parent symposium—and much more.

“The work we all have committed to is valuable, critical and, at times, ‘tough,’” wrote Aswad Allen, assistant dean of Diversity and Inclusion, in the office’s inaugural newsletter in April. “Sometimes it is not visible—like air—but [nevertheless, it is] quite necessary.”

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