Ascend: The Campaign for the University of Denver

The University of Denver has launched the public phase of a capital campaign: Ascend: The Campaign for the University of Denver.  The quiet phase began four years ago and it is set to conclude in 2014, the 150th anniversary of the University of Denver.

DU Today, the university’s news service had an article about the capital campaign:

During Convocation remarks to more than 650 faculty and staff members today, University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe publicly announced a multi-year campaign to position the University for the 21st century.

Ascend: The Campaign for the University of Denver will culminate in 2014 when the University celebrates its sesquicentennial.

“Today, I’m announcing the public phase of our campaign,” Coombe said. “We will focus on additional financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students; support for faculty chairs and professorships as well as research and scholarship; the visual and performing arts; and important improvements and additions to our facilities.”

The campaign has been in a quiet phase for four years, raising more than $250 million to date. Of that, Coombe said $100 million is providing direct support to students and faculty.

Coombe noted that the new class of first-year undergraduate students is the best in DU history in terms of academic credentials, which include GPA, test scores, class rank and the number of Boettcher Scholars. The class also is DU’s most diverse; more than 19 percent are students of color, more than 16 percent are receiving Pell Grants, and more than 7 percent are international students. Also, more than 60 percent of the class comes from outside of Colorado.

Although the campaign’s emphasis is on raising funds to support DU’s “human infrastructure,” according to the Ascend website, the initiative also will fund a “desperately needed new building” to house the School of Engineering and Computer Science, which has a projected price tag of $55 million, most of which has yet to be raised.

Also planned is a transformation of Penrose Library into an “academic commons.”

“The renovation will change the building’s functionality from book storage space to technology-rich people space,” Coombe said. The University has raised $25 million of the $30 million needed for the project.

“I believe all of this is possible. We can be that great private university dedicated to the public good. We can be that university that has a lasting and powerful impact on the human condition. We can ascend to that higher place together,” Coombe said.

The campaign has a video which describes its aims and goals.  You will see a number of friends of mine featured and you can see me as part of a mini-class about microfinance highlighting a class that was featured by Forbes as one of the 10 Most Innovative Business School classes –

On the website, I have been included as one of the “profiled” students.  It’s the same “One to Watch” story that appeared in the DU Magazine.  If you are interested, you can read it on the Ascend website.

I know Chancellor Coombe has been working hard on this campaign and I hope that it is successful in meeting each of its goals.  The University of Denver has a lot of potential and a great future ahead of it.  This campaign should position it well for the future.  Before too long, I hope to be able to contribute to future growth needs of the university.

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DU’s and Denver’s Reaction to Recent Suicides

The recent string of suicides of young gay males has not gone unnoticed at the University of Denver or in the Denver community.  Today, Thomas Walker, Associate Director of the Center for Multicultural Excellence and LGBTIQA and Social Justice Initiatives Coordinator was interviewed by 9news, Denver’s NBC affiliate.

Check out Thomas’ video and the associated story:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

DENVER – The recent suicides of five gay teens has brought national attention to the issue of harassment and bullying of gay students on many campuses.

An estimated one-third of all suicides among younger populations involve people in the gay community.

“We are seeing shocking numbers of suicides and suicidal thoughts,” says Hope Wisneski, Denver Executive Director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Organization.

Just in the last month, 5 young men, as young as 13 years old, have taken their own lives.

The most recent was 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University Student.

Prosecutors say his roommate and another student streamed live images of Clementi having intimate relations with another man. Clementi jumped off a bridge three days later.

“I felt bad that he thought that was his only option,” says Dr. Thomas Walker, Associate Director of GLBT Services at the University of Denver.

But, he says, these numbers are nothing new.

“Unfortunately, students, young people, even older folks, hurting themselves or taking their own lives is something that happens more often than we’d like for it to,” says Walker.

“We know in Colorado that we have recently surveyed 300 participants, 40 percent of which said they have seriously considered suicide,” says Wisneski.

Wisneski also says that 70 percent of teenagers have reported feeling unsafe at school.

“There are resources that are available. If you’re struggling, it can get better. It can be better,” says Walker. “Here on our own campus I have a number of people contact me asking how they can help and what they can do to help people who are hurting,” says Walker.

“People are starting to realize and really honor and acknowledge how hard the world can be for some people and how hard our society makes it for people to be who they are. And when we learn about the lack of acceptance out there and learn about people being bullied to the point they take their own lives, I hope that it allows people to take a second and stand back and really understand how much it impacts us,” says Wisneski.

For those seeking more information or help, visit http://www.glbtcolorado.org, or contact the Colorado Anti-Violence Program at 303-852-5094.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

As well, the University of Denver sent the following email out to the DU community today:

To the DU Community:

As has been reported in the national and local press, there have a spate of youth suicides in the past few weeks by people targeted with specific or ongoing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.  A just released national survey report in which DU students, staff and faculty participated (www.campuspride.org) sadly documents that the exclusion, intimidation, and devaluation of LGBTIQ classmates and colleagues is not occasional or uncommon at campuses across the United States.

The University of Denver is fully committed to an active engagement of all of our community members. Our diversity of perspectives, experiences, and identities is not just tolerated at DU, it is celebrated as creating the intellectual vibrancy that is fundamental to the University’s mission (see www.du.edu/chancellor/diversityStatement.html). There is no place at DU for words or actions that disrespect, discriminate, harass, or otherwise diminish or endanger others. We therefore call on our entire campus community – DU students, faculty, staff, and administrators – to refrain from behavior that excludes or intimidates others whatever their identities, and to intervene to prevent such behavior if it threatens to occur.

We do have resources at the University that are available for you or someone you know who needs support in the face of recent events, and we encourage you to use them. They include:

•    The Center for Multicultural Excellence (CME) supports broad equity and LGBTIQ & Ally specific programs and campus organizations, including Queer & Ally (Q&A) trainings. Multicultural Center (Asbury & University), (303)871-4614; www.du.edu/lgbtiqa.

•    DU’s Health & Counseling Center offers group and one-on-one counseling to address specific issues and/or improve the overall academic experience. Ritchie Center 3rd Fl North, (303)871-3853; www.du.edu/duhealth/counseling.

•    GVESS provides prevention and response training and resources for those affected by interpersonal violence, including sexual assault. Nelson Hall 103, (303)871-2220,www.du.edu/studentlife/Sexual_Assault.

•    The Office of the Chaplain is available to the entire DU community regardless of faith affiliation, or no affiliation at all. Driscoll South 29, (303)871-4488;www.du.edu/studentlife/religiouslife.

•    Campus Safety partners with campus constituents to prevent and respond to situations that put the campus community at risk.  In emergencies, dial 911 and then (303)841-3000. General inquiries (303)871-2334; www.du.edu/campussafety.

As the new academic year continues, we invite you to take advantage of these resources and the wide array of campus programs and activities to learn about the rich diversity of our University of Denver community.

Sincerely,

Robert Coombe    Gregg Kvistad

Chancellor            Provost

Hopefully, the situation for everyone will improve – we can all strive to be more understanding, welcoming, accepting, inclusive.

The 2010 University of Denver Pioneer Awards

The University of Denver Pioneer Awards Ceremony 2010 was held last night, Tuesday, May 18, 2010.  I was nominated for two awards and was also there to support my friends receiving other awards.

Outstanding Student Awards

Students, advisers, and student organizations are nominated based on their contributions to academic excellence, the campus and university, and community involvement.

18 Seniors were nominated for Outstanding Senior.  A few (3 or 4) were chosen as Distinguished Seniors.  One was chosen as Outstanding Senior.  This year, that person was me.

My certificate reads:

A University is a community of leaders and scholars.
A leader is one that raises the bar for their peers and works to better their institution.

The University of Denver
would like to recognize
Joel Portman
Outstanding Senior Student
2009-2010

This award is present to you in recognition of your excellence in the areas of leadership, scholarship, citizenship, and service to the University of Denver community.

I was not expecting to receive this award.  While I have been active, I did not think that I was as involved this year.  Apparently other people recognize my involvement more significantly than I did.  Either way, I am very appreciative to everyone.

Two years ago, I also received the award for Outstanding Sophomore Student.

Pioneer Awards

The Pioneer Award is the most prestigious award given to a University of Denver student.

From the award ceremony booklet:

The year was 1926 and the Parsons of the Colorado Seminary became the Pioneers of the University of Denver.
That same year the Kynewisbok [University of Denver yearbook, now defunct] began one of the University’s most lasting traditions – the naming of “The Pioneers” – individuals whose dedication to our University and its students is beyond measure.
This year’s Pioneer Award nomination came from all over campus and represent the finest ambassadors of the University of Denver both on campus and in the community.
The 10 students, 1 faculty member, 1 staff member, and 1 student organization selected by the committee were chosen for their exemplary dedication and contributions to, and on behalf of, the University.
While their personal goals and ideals differ, they are bound by their visions of a better DU.  Their work toward a goal does not make them unique, but rather the creativity, passion, and spirit with which they pursue this vision does.  Each of these people and organizations have made a difference.

The 1930 Kynewisbok urged its winners,
“Go forth: great battles are yet to be won.”
We urge the same.
The battles they have fought at DU may seem small in comparison to the battles of life but the fight our Pioneers have given show us what is best in ourselves.

We salute their bold imagination, their fiery determination, their collective sense of compassion, and most of all, their Pioneer spirit.

Twenty-six students were nominated to the Pioneer Award.  Ten received it.  I, along with several of my friends, received the award.

I received a poster/certificate/plaque (it is rather large) that has a picture of former University of Denver Chancellor Henry Buchtel and the recognition text.  Henry Buchtel was Governor of Colorado from 1907-1909 and was Chancellor of the University of Denver 1900-1920.  He moved the University of Denver out of debt and began many lasting traditions.

The text on my award reads:

Pioneer.  One who sets themselves apart.
One who chooses a direction and then blazes a path for others to follow.  A pioneer is an innovator, a person who uses his creative talents and unique perspective to positively impact hiss community.

A University of Denver Pioneer is a scholar, a leader and a person with a compassionate spirit and strong character.

We honor
Joel Portman
for his Pioneer Spirit and commitment
to the University of Denver.

/x/ Chancellor Robert D. Coombe

This was certainly a very nice recognition of my four years of hard work and involvement at the University of Denver.

I am appreciative to have been recognized with these awards for my work at DU – but really it is because of everyone who has been there with me and who has supported me that I have been successful. Additionally, I could not have asked for a better group of people with whom to receive the Pioneer Award.

Joel Portman, Tuyen Trisa Bui, and Javier Ogaz, Pioneer Award Recipients, with Provost Gregg Kvistad