Dear students, faculty and staff,
We just announced some exciting news at today’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, which I’m delighted to share with you. CU Denver has reached a significant milestone: the first named building on our campus. The Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center will be the new heartbeat of our vibrant urban campus, enhancing community, connection and campus life. We are grateful to the Salazars for their $10 million gift.
Self-made business success stories, the Salazars attended Denver Public Schools — and, in Lola’s case, CU Denver for a master’s degree — and are committed to providing opportunities to Denver’s diverse student populations. Here at the most diverse research university in the state, CU Denver students’ work ethic and determination echo Lola and Rob’s personal story of working hard to achieve their dreams. Nothing illustrates this better than how the wellness center came to be.
Back in 2013, student government leaders, having identified a need for a greater sense of community on campus, asked university administration to evaluate the feasibility of a new student wellness center, to be funded by student fees. The feasibility study was conducted in fall 2014. In focus groups and surveys, students indicated a strong preference for a CU Denver-specific facility to build school spirit and community, provide a haven for students between classes, and offer fitness opportunities including a lap pool and a gymnasium. In spring 2015, SGA prepared a student referendum and engineered a “get out the vote” campaign. Students voted in record-turnout numbers in favor of a center, and to increase student fees to cover the costs. They’ve been contributing to its design, construction and planning ever since.
With amenities like a climbing wall, three-court gymnasium, six-lane pool, weight room, fitness studios, reflection rooms and outdoor adventure center, the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center will support our students’ success beyond the classroom. In fact, programs are being designed to encapsulate the seven dimensions of wellness: social, physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, environmental and creative.
The Salazar gift will provide both short- and long-term benefits to the wellness center and to our students. In the short term, $2 million will ensure that the center incorporates features to complete the vision of the original design conceptualized by the students. The remaining $8 million will establish an endowment to manage future expenses, with a goal of keeping student fees at their current rate.
In addition to thanking the Salazars for their vision and generosity, I’d like to acknowledge our student leaders and the work they have put in over the past four years to envision, plan, promote and execute their idea. Their grit and determination – like that of Lola and Rob Salazar – demonstrate how CU Denver students are fully equipped to turn their dreams into reality.