Campus & Community

University hands out honors during Founder’s Day Gala

The University of Denver recognized the achievements and contributions of six individuals during the annual Founder’s Day celebration March 14. The event marked the University’s 144 years in Denver, making it the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region.

Donald Sturm received the Evans Award, which is named after John Evans, the principal founder of the University. Sturm (LLB ’58) owns the Sturm Realty Group and the Sturm Financial Group, which includes American National Bank and Premier Bank.

Sturm has served on DU’s Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Susan, have donated $29 million to the University, including $20 million to the law school.

Joy Burns
received the Distinguished Service to the University Award. As a volunteer, Chair of the Board of Trustees and president of Pioneers Sportswoman, Burns has spent the last 35 years working with the University to improve both the school and the community.

“I’m really convinced that this is a wonderful University, and it serves a tremendously good purpose in the community,” Burns said. “It’s been extremely rewarding to be a part of it.”

Burns was the first woman to become chair of the DU board, serving that post for most of the past 18 years. The Joy Burns Arena at the Ritchie Center and the Joy Burns Plaza in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts were made possible by her generosity. In addition, the Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management is named after her late husband, a graduate of DU.

Hao Jiang Tian (MA ’87) received the Professional Achievement Award. Tian has been a regular performer at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City since 1991 and has traveled to grand venues around the world and sung with some of the greatest opera singers in history.

DU honored Terry Chase (MA ’90) with the Community Service Award for her work as the patient and family education coordinator at Craig Hospital. Chase, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 1988, has dedicated her life to making those with similar injuries whole again.

“My whole higher education pathway has been learning about physical health, mental health and spiritual health,” Chase said.

Dan (BSBA ’71) and Marty (BA’71) Benson were awarded the Randolph P. McDonough Award for Service to Alumni for their work building the Boston-area alumni chapter.

“We’ve been able to connect young alumni who just moved here with people who are already successful in their careers,” Marty Benson said.

Freelance photographer Aaron Huey (BFA ’99) received the Ammi Hyde Award for Young Alumni Achievement. Huey’s photographs have been published in prominent publications including National GeographicHarper’sTime andNewsweek, and he was named one of the top 30 young photographers by Photo District News.

About 800 people attended the gala which included dinner, an awards ceremony and entertainment by Michael Israel. The artist splashed paint on spinning canvases to reveal images of famous people and landmarks, including Muhammad Ali, John Lennon and the Statue of Liberty. In closing, he smashed a glass frame unveiling a portrait of DU that will be on display at the University for one year.

View videos of each Founder’s Day award recipient: SturmBurnsTianChase, the Bensons and Huey.

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