Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Historic ties noted at first-year dinner with chancellor

The University’s Denver roots go deeper than those of the various trees that adorn campus, Chancellor Robert Coombe told students, faculty, staff and alumni at a recent first-year student dinner.

“For as long as there has been any Denver at all,” Coombe said, “the University of Denver has been here.”

By mid-October, 335 first-year students have attended six of 14 formal dinners, which are intended to better acquaint fall’s new arrivals with their alma mater. Faculty, alumni and staff also attend the dinners as representatives of the DU community.

In recounting the University’s history, Coombe sought to impress upon first-year students that DU’s history “is your history as well and your deep roots.”

Coombe’s words resonated with international studies major Gloriz Vazirabadi.

“The history of the University gives you something to connect to,” Vazirabadi said. “I doubt that at public universities you have this close connection.”

For five years, the chancellor’s first-year dinner program has been giving new students the opportunity to foster a connection to the University early on. At each dinner, Coombe recounts the early history of the University and explains that DU’s official name is still the Colorado Seminary because officially changing it would require an amendment to the Colorado Constitution.

After each dinner Julanna Gilbert — a chemistry professor, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and the chancellor’s wife — invites student to ascend the 98 steps of the Williams Tower for a chance to enjoy the view and play the Williams Carillon.

Aside from free food, first-year students also enjoy the opportunities for socializing afforded by the event.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere and getting to know people from around the campus and having the opportunity to meet the chancellor,” said Ernest Villanueva, an economics and finance major.

English major Mary Kate DeGraw agreed. “As an incoming first-year you hear all these names, and it’s good to put faces to names.

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