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Celebrating 80 Years - 1970, University of Denver Campus Library

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

University of Denver campus library, today


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


The Penroses' support for education was clear in their philanthropic activity, as can be seen in the considerable support offered in scholarships throughout the state in the Foundation’s early years. Ever since, the Foundation has made it a priority to continue to support the higher education institutions that have promoted Colorado’s vibrant and competitive growth. The University of Denver is one of the pillars of Colorado’s higher education landscape and the Penrose Library on campus was the Foundation’s largest capital grant to date when it was provided in 1970.



Groundbreaking of the University Park campus, 1890

Grantee Spotlight:  University of Denver, Campus Library


Twelve years before Colorado became a state, the Colorado Seminary was founded in Denver by the governor of the Colorado Territory, John Evans, in 1864. The Methodist seminary was renamed the University of Denver in 1880, and grew alongside the city around it, with the first female and African American graduates in 1886 and 1900, respectively. The Daniels College of Business is the eighth-oldest business college in the country and the Graduate School of Social Work was the first west of the Mississippi River. Now more than 150 years from its founding, the University of Denver enrolls more than 11,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students annually and continues to “promote learning by engaging with students in advancing scholarly inquiry, cultivating critical and creative thought, and generating knowledge.”

In working toward this mission, the University has made considerable investment in its campus over the years. Historical buildings like University Hall (constructed in 1890) and Evans Chapel (built in the 1870s and relocated to the campus from downtown Denver in the 1960s) provide context and depth, while newer additions like the Morgridge College of Education (2010) and Anderson Academic Commons (2013) demonstrate the school’s commitment to contemporary technology and environmental sustainability.

Before Anderson Academic Commons was constructed, DU students studied for 41 years at the Penrose Library, funded by El Pomar Foundation in commitment to the important role of the University in Colorado’s landscape of higher education. Since 1947, El Pomar has provided more than 70 grants to the University, largely in scholarship and capital funding. The Foundation has also been lucky enough to draw from University of Denver alumni for the Fellowship, with 15 Pioneers passing through the program so far.


University of Denver campus, today

El Pomar in 1970:

Due to the $4.5 million granted toward the University of Denver library, Foundation giving reached an unprecedented level of $6.25 million granted in 1970. Other major capital projects supported by the Foundation included funding for the Denver Art Museum, St. Mary’s High School, a swimming pool for the City of Manitou Springs, Penrose Hospital, and the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City.

Health was a particularly large focus area for El Pomar in 1970, and in addition to Penrose Hospital, the Foundation granted to Craig Hospital Foundation in Englewood, La Junta Community Hospital, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Lutheran Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital in Denver.

El Pomar also provided funding for a sculpture for the Colorado Museum of Natural History and a car for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.


Images courtesy of the University of Denver 

Spotlight by Corey Baron