by Amy Vaerewyck
Today in downtown Denver, J.P. Morgan and the University of Colorado Denver announced the opening of the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, a first-of-its-kind partnership in the academic world. Supported by J.P. Morgan’s $5.5 million gift to the University of Colorado Denver Business School, the Center will provide innovative courses and research in commodity finance, economics and policy.
“No academic program matches what the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities will provide,” said Don Elliman, chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver.
The Center offers innovative courses and research on commodity markets, sustainable development, regulations, investing and trading, risk management and ethics.
“We were thrilled to support the University of Colorado Denver as they expand academic and public understanding of the commodities industry,” said Blythe Masters, head of J.P. Morgan Global Commodities and a member of the JPMorgan Chase Executive Committee.
“J.P. Morgan will partner with the CU Denver Business School to create that vital intersection for commodities education and the industry,” Elliman said.
When Business School Dean Sueann Ambron arrived at CU Denver in 2000, her first question was: “Where’s the business school?”
She learned that the school was scattered among 15 locations across the city of Denver—and a vision started to form. Ambron immediately started meeting with business and university leaders to set the wheels in motion for a new building campaign.
Straight from the high-energy streets of downtown Denver, you step into the Business School’s CoBank Commons. Here, students study with classmates, work on team projects and network with colleagues. Once the headquarters of a French energy company, this sustainably-designed building is bright with natural light and feels professional and business-like—just like the environments to which these aspiring managers and executives are headed.
You’re intrigued by a room with three transparent glass walls, which allow you to see everything going on inside, and one opaque "writable" wall. This is the Cordillera Board Room, where students meet with business contacts and companies—an invaluable step on their path from classroom to boardroom.
Just off the lobby is the only-of-its-kind Center for Commodities, which educates students in the fields of energy, agriculture and minerals for global commodities like oil, corn, and silver. A feasibility study done by the university determined that there is no other university program in the U.S. that prepares business leaders for working with diverse commodities. The Center is designed to combine actual commodity trading with academic study and research in new and exciting ways.
“This is where the commodities world intersects with higher education,” said George Solich, CEO of Cordillera Energy Partners, a major university supporter and a proud alumnus.
From the lobby, you start up a glowing green staircase surrounded by windows on two sides. Each day, more than 3,000 Business School students, faculty and staff will climb this “Corporate Ladder” staircase on their way to careers in sports and entertainment management, decision sciences, entrepreneurship and much more.
On the second floor, classrooms are strategically equipped for high-powered teaching, versatile learning and diverse coursework. Professors of risk management and finance teach in stadium-seating classrooms, using digital and live projectors to deliver information efficiently. MBA and accounting students collaborate together, aided by retractable classroom walls and mobile, rolling desks that interlock to form group circles.
There’s a break-out room designated for students in the 11-month MBA program, furnished with everything they need to feel comfortable while attending 6-7 hours of class a day. MBA student Christopher Affrunti sits at a table in the room, working on his laptop. With a newborn baby at home, he appreciates the quiet space to study or relax.
“Having a nice, new, high-profile building speaks to how well the school is doing and to its part in the downtown business community,” Affrunti said.
He and his classmates can look forward to studying on the expansive sixth-floor decks with views of Larimer Square below and the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
Scheduled to be completed later this year, the 120,000-square-foot Business School facility has already hosted receptions for the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Urban Leadership Symposium and for the Denver Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” honorees.
Thanks to many generous partners, the building will also be home to:
“[In our new Business School building,] you don’t just sit in a classroom; you’re part of a business community from the beginning,” Dean Ambron said. “It’s going to be an amazing experience for students and the community.”