Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Chancellor welcomes new students at first-year dinners

Chancellor Robert Coombe recalled one man’s history Oct. 22.

John Evans came to Denver in the 1860s with a dream of bringing civilization to the city, which was then “a vast, empty space.”

“For him, that meant two things: religion and education,” Coombe said. 

But Coombe told a group of first-year students that Evans, the man who founded DU in 1864, wasn’t the only keeper of DU’s history.

“It’s your history now,” he told them at one of the 15 formal first-year dinners the University will hold in the Ritchie Center’s Gottesfeld Room this fall. So far, 462 students have attended the first nine dinners.

The dinner program, now in its fourth year, is held to give DU’s newest students the chance to meet the chancellor and learn about the University, says Assistant to the Chancellor Claire Brownell. Students also get to meet alumni, faculty and staff that also attend the dinners. 

The chancellor begins the evening by recounting DU’s history, explaining that the University has been around as long as Denver has and that DU’s legal title is the Colorado Seminary. After dinner, carillonneur Julanna Gilbert — a chemistry professor, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the chancellor’s wife — gives students a tour of the Williams Carillon. 

For students, the evening is an opportunity to learn about the University and meet important DU figures — all while enjoying good food.

“There is a lot of history to this place that I didn’t know about,” said Sean Chapin, a real estate and construction management major from Minneapolis.

“I had no idea that the school has been here as long as Denver,” added psychology major Hannah Hoffer.

Students agree that the experience is a rare one.

“It’s nice to have personal interaction with the chancellor and other faculty,” said Denver native Crystal Simon, an international studies major. “It’s not something we can have at other universities.”

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