Campus & Community

University celebrates 150th anniversary with calendar of special events

It took many decades for the University of Denver to become the school it is today, but the institution has its roots in 1864, when the Colorado Seminary — as the University was chartered — was founded by John Evans and a group of prominent Denver citizens. Evans previously had founded Northwestern University in Chicago and wanted to create a college in Denver so future generations of students would not have to travel back east for their higher education.

Over the coming year, the University will celebrate its sesquicentennial with a variety of events and exhibits, including an expansive “Tradition and Legacy” exhibit at the Anderson Academic Commons and special versions of campus traditions such as Winter Carnival, Founders Day, Homecoming and Family Weekend and Alumni Symposium.

The celebration also is online: a new sesquicentennial website, launching Jan. 7, uses technology and databases to connect the entire University of Denver community — alumni, students, faculty, staff and parents — on a personal and professional level. The new site also lets users check out an interactive DU timeline and share their own stories; view and RSVP for the full list of sesquicentennial events; look at historic campus maps and photos; and enroll in the 1864 Service Challenge.

A schedule of major sesquicentennial events appears below; visit for a complete — and constantly updated — list of anniversary events including athletics games, concerts, speakers and more.


January 13–December 24

“TRADITION AND LEGACY,” ANDERSON ACADEMIC COMMONS — Mixing artifacts and video clips with text and archival photographs, this interactive exhibit shows how aspiration and vision came to animate the DU experience. Individual displays focus on everything from athletics and recreation to campus life, Homecoming festivities to Commencement traditions.


Beginning January 28

1864 SERVICE CHALLENGE — Whether working on a University-sanctioned service project or volunteering in their own communities, Pioneers will be asked to log their service hours as we aim for a combined total of 186,400 hours in honor of the University’s founding in 1864.


January 31–February 2

WINTER CARNIVAL — This year, alumni, parents and friends are invited to join students, faculty and staff for the annual Winter Carnival at Keystone. Alumni Relations will host an après ski party and an alumni ice skating event. Discounted lift tickets and accommodations will be available. Register at


February 25

BRIDGES TO THE FUTURE: “AFTER THE GOLD RUSH,” NEWMAN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS — History Professor Susan Schulten will talk about the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1861 and it how it connects to the founding of the University of Denver. Register at


February 28–March 5

1864 WEEK — This year the University’s birthday celebration will encompass an entire week. Festivities will include special celebrations, speakers and academic events on campus for students, faculty, staff and alumni.


March 5

FOUNDERS DAY GALA — This special celebration of the University’s 150th birthday will feature a multimedia presentation on our rich history and traditions. Honorees from previous years will be recognized for their impact on the University’s past, present and future. Register at


June 6–7

COMMENCEMENT WEEK — The annual Commencement ceremony will be expanded to include a senior barbecue and other events that celebrate the time that seniors and graduate students have spent on campus. The week also includes two days of activities for the Class of 1964’s 50th reunion.


Summer (dates TBA)

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES — A family-friendly, free concert series featuring a variety of musical styles will take place on campus in July and August.


September (date TBA)

DENVER 150 FESTIVAL AND CRIMSON CLASSIC — The inaugural Crimson Classic 5K on campus in September 2013 drew more than 200 participants. The race —which is open to alumni — will occur again in 2014 as a companion event to the Denver 150 Festival, an afternoon of music, food and fun on Driscoll Green.


October 30–November 2

HOMECOMING AND FAMILY WEEKEND, ALL-CLASS REUNION AND PIONEER SYMPOSIUM — The annual celebration will be enhanced for DU’s sesquicentennial year, with an all-class reunion, inductions into the Athletics Hall of Fame, lifelong learning opportunities, special guest speakers, parent sessions, Taste of DU, campus tours and Pioneers hockey games against powerhouse Boston College. Preregister at




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