Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Boettcher Foundation gift to DU honors retiring board member

Within the Morgridge College of Education’s future home, Ruffatto Hall, there will be a very special conference room dedicated to creating a safe, neutral space where education leaders can grapple with some of society’s most fundamental questions.

The Claudia Boettcher Merthan Community Boardroom was made possible by a $500,000 capstone gift from the Boettcher Foundation at the end of the college’s $35 million campaign. To those involved, the room is both a symbolic expression of gratitude as well as a practical space for community involvement.

Katie Kramer, vice president of the Boettcher Foundation, says that the foundation’s gift to the boardroom “seemed like a perfect match” because it allowed Boettcher to support education, to provide space to a college it knows well, and to honor a retiring Boettcher board member, Claudia Boettcher Merthan.

“This is a space where quality conversations will take place among community members, DU faculty and students, and those who are leaders and practitioners in the field,” says Kramer. “It’s not a lecture hall; it’s a community space where we can push thinking.”

Ginger Maloney, former dean of the college and currently director of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, agrees.

“This room will enable us to host high-level meetings,” she says. “It gives us a space to convene area superintendents and policy makers. It includes high-tech video conferencing capabilities. We will be able to convene cross-disciplinary groups and talk and work through problems that educators face right now.”

The Boettcher Foundation is among the University’s largest donors, having made a total of $29.5 million in gifts — $12.7 million for scholarships and $16.8 million for capital projects, endowments and programs.

One of its most recent and successful programs is the Boettcher Teachers Program, which prepares teachers to succeed in urban schools with students who have been historically underserved.

Kramer says that when the foundation learned of the Morgridge College of Education’s campaign it had also just learned that one of their board members was retiring. And not just any board member — the last of the Boettcher family members to serve the foundation.

“When our board members retire, we like to do something in their honor,” says Kramer. “Naming this boardroom was perfect. Not only does it reconfirm our investment in DU, but it also shows our commitment to education and it will carry Claudia’s name.”

Claudia Boettcher Merthan served the foundation for 27 years and was chair of the board fro 1992 to 2007. During her term, the foundation’s assets grew from $92 million to more than $300 million.

The space that bears her name includes the 857-square-foot boardroom, which will be connected by a movable wall to a 2,508-square-foot commons area, enabling the college to have a significant private meeting space, as well as a large event space.

Maureen Silva, associate vice chancellor and campaign director for University Advancement, says the boardroom also will offer opportunities for graduate student involvement.

“Imagine education leaders from around the state convening to hash out these difficult problems,” says Silva. “And they’ll be able to attend virtually if they need to. There would be graduate students on hand, ready to do research right then and there if needed, keeping the dialogue moving forward. The Community Boardroom is going to be an incredibly dynamic place.”

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