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2017 CU Denver Master Plan

 What is a Master Plan?

A college or university master plan is done to create, through broad-based consensus, a long-term physical expression of an institution's strategic plan, mission, and vision. Change is inevitable, so a successful master plan should be flexible, to allow an institution to address real-time needs and innovations in short-term projects, while ensuring that each is consistent with its mission, long-term goals and priorities.



 Why is CU Denver writing a Master Plan?

 The 2017 Master Plan will be the first comprehensive master plan undertaken by the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). The planning effort, and resulting document will conform to the guidelines master planning guidelines of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), and meet the CDHE requirement that all colleges and universities in Colorado complete a master plan every ten years.

 How can I participate?

As a member of the CU Denver campus community (student, faculty, staff) the consultant team is seeking your thoughts on how to better shape the physical environment of the campus and strengthen student life and learning. This plan will be focused on CU Denver’s space needs so your thoughts on classrooms, laboratories, and student spaces (study rooms, academic advising spaces, and faculty consultation areas) are desired as they will help shape the plan’s recommendations. As our student body continues to grow, your suggestions on how to improve student life will help CU Denver identify where strategic improvements to the campus environment and student experience can be made. 

The consultant team is currently developing several growth scenarios that will be used to develop the plan. These scenarios will be presented at two open houses in February for your review.

  • Monday, February 13, 2017
    • Jerry Wartgow Welcome Center- ACAD 1300
    • 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • Tuesday, February, 14 2017
    • Jerry Wartgow Welcome Center- ACAD 1300
    • 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

You are encouraged to attend to provide your thoughts and input as the Plan takes shape. Your feedback to the consultant team to help ensure that the plan’s strategies address the most pressing issues on campus. In March the completed document will be presented at an open house presentation.

The project web page will also list student focus groups and other opportunities to contribute to the plan as they arise. Additional information regarding the plan is below.


 How will this Plan differ from past efforts?

The 150-acre Auraria Campus was created in the 1970’s as a shared campus for three distinct higher education institutions, the Community College of Denver (CCD), Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD), and CU Denver. A separate state entity, the Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC), was established to administer and manage the Auraria campus, including parking and circulation, security, facilities maintenance, and janitorial services. Given this complexity the three institutions were integrated in previous AHEC Master Plans, the last of which was completed in 2012.

However, over the last forty years, the success of CU Denver has led to significant growth at Colorado’s only public urban research university. Its programs and facilities have expanded beyond the Auraria Campus to Denver’s central arts and business district and recently to South Denver. CU Denver can no longer be adequately conveyed as a chapter in a multi-institutional plan but demands an institution-specific comprehensive master plan.

Although enrollment growth and space needs for CU Denver were identified in the 2012 AHEC Master Plan, that effort did not include an in-depth analysis of all CU Denver academic, administrative, and support units. The 2016 study will result in the first detailed, data-driven plan focused on CU Denver and its future needs, priorities, and goals. The process will lead to a master plan that will provide a framework for the future development of CU Denver, and CU South Denver, and enable both entities to realize their strategic goals. 4

 What will the Master Plan address?

The master plan will examine and propose strategies to address five institutional planning categories: education, facilities, IT, infrastructure, and campus environment planning. Based on CU Denver’ specific priorities, the study will undertake a more detailed examination of some categories than others, with an in-depth assessment of student and employee population growth; programmatic space needs; capital projects; campus development capacity; campus experience; public/private partnerships; and campus-downtown connectivity.

Growth in student, faculty, and staff populations on campus are the primary driver ofspace needs that drive future development. Population projections for all administrative, support and academic units, at the school/college and department levels will be reviewed and verified. Additionally, space inventory, functionality, and utilization data will be collected, validated, analyzed, and benchmarked to justify,size, and prioritize facility projects over the next decade. The plan will explore the future of the CU Denver neighborhood on the Auraria Campus, and identify opportunities for place-making, public/private partnerships, and meaningful connections to the Downtown Denver community. The importance of student life, housing, and success to a vibrant urban university will be examined, and the plan will develop implementation strategies to improve the CU Denver student experience.

This planning effort will not include in-depth design solutions for circulation, open space, and utility/infrastructure improvements, which fall under the purview of AHEC. However, AHEC is updating its master plan concurrent to the CU Denver effort, and the CU Denver campus community will have the opportunity to participate in that process and shortly provide meaningful input on these topics.


 When will the Master Plan be complete?

The consultant team will deliver the 2016 Draft CU Denver Master Plan Draft in mid-March 2017. They will deliver the Final document by mid-April 2017.


 Who will review and approve the Plan?

There are four committees comprised of CU Denver staff, faculty, and administrators who will review the plan to ensure that meets campus needs and complies with applicable regulations prior to approval by CU Denver. CU master plans must also be submitted to and approved by the CU Design Review Board and CU Board of Regents (BOR), as well as the CDHE for review and information.


For further information please contact Erik Balsley at 303-724-0612 or

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