Academics and Research

$1.3 million gift creates new opportunities in arts, humanities and social sciences

The late Robert Clemens (BA ’81) bestowed $1.3 million of his estate to liberal arts academics at the University of Denver. A world traveler and a lover of fine art and languages, Clemens dedicated his career to teaching English as a second language (ESL) classes internationally. He founded and managed an ESL school in Santiago, Mexico.

“Bob devoted his life to teaching. He always wanted to give back, and our family is not surprised that he found a way to give back even after his passing,” says Dennis Clemens (BSBA ’85), Robert Clemens’ younger brother. “Bob loved his time at DU. In fact, I visited him while he was a student and saw firsthand why he loved DU. It was because of my visit to see my older brother that I chose to attend DU, too.”

Per his and his family’s wishes, Clemens’ estate gift has been divided evenly among three departments in the Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: the history department, the English department and the School of Art and Art History.

Clemens’ gift will allow the history department to provide internship support for students and to establish an endowed faculty research fund. As a DU student, Clemens studied under history Professor Allen Breck. “Professor Breck was not just an adviser, but also a mentor for Bob. Bob credits Professor Breck for giving him a lot of guidance, so our family is pleased to see his gift support the history department,” Dennis Clemens says.

The English department has created the Robert L. Clemens Endowed Fellowship, which will be awarded to a fourth-year PhD candidate, preferably a student from Mexico or a student who has experience working with racial minorities.

The Robert L. Clemens Endowed Studio Art Fund will fund instructional costs in studio art for the School of Art and Art History, and the Robert L. Clemens Endowed Creative Production Award will be given to two faculty members per year. The faculty recipients will be called Clemens Artists.

Clemens began his travel adventures by moving from Iowa to the Rockies to attend college. Upon graduating from DU, he moved to Mexico for six months to become fluent in Spanish. He then lived in California, New York, Hawaii, Mexico and Guatemala, while regularly traveling internationally to other parts of the world. While living in California, he received his master’s degree in comparative religion from the Franciscan School of Theology.

Clemens dedicated his life to teaching ESL. Shortly before his death in June 2012, Clemens received an advanced certificate from the Kent School in England to teach ESL to teachers.

“Mr. Clemens lived the liberal arts lifestyle. He was a big reader, he loved to travel, he embraced education, he was bilingual, he bridged cultures and so much more,” says AHSS Dean Anne McCall. “It is only fitting that his generosity makes possible the enhancement of liberal arts studies at his alma mater. He has surely left a significant legacy here.”


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