Dear CU Denver Community,One of the most beautiful spots on the Auraria Campus is the 9th Street historic park, a tree-lined, block-long pedestrian park that contains the oldest restored residences in the city. But what many people don’t realize is that the history of this block—and indeed, of much of our campus—is one of displacement and hardship.When the Auraria Campus was built in the 1970s, a well-established, close-knit, largely Hispanic community of more than 300 households was displaced in the name of urban renewal. As part of their relocation, these residents were compensated for their homes and promised free education for years to come. The Displaced Aurarian Scholarship program, which began in the 1990s, was designed to provide funds for tuition and fees for former residents of the Auraria neighborhood, their children, and grandchildren.
But we need to do more. This afternoon we took one step further toward a long-term effort to honor and support the displaced Aurarians and the long-term impacts the taking of their homes has had on them, their families, and their livelihoods. At 4 p.m., the CU Board of Regents acknowledged our promise to expand the Displaced Aurarian Scholarship program to any direct descendant, in perpetuity. We held a celebration on the 9th Street Park immediately following, during which we heard moving stories from the community who lost their homes and from their descendants who’ve received scholarships.The scholarship expansion becomes effective in the Spring 2022 semester and also removes previous limits on the number of semesters and classes that students may receive support for. Our fellow Auraria campus institutions have joined in this commitment and expanded their scholarship programs as well. I want to thank CU Regent Nolbert Chavez for his leadership in this work and for the entire Board of Regents for their support.Supporting the education of displaced Aurarians and their families, now and into the future, is a concrete step toward the implementation of our strategic plan to make education work for all, and two of the plan’s goals in particular. First, investing in the future of our surrounding neighborhoods and particularly serving Hispanic communities bolsters our Goal 1: to become an equity-serving institution. And second, expanding eligibility for the scholarship across generations and throughout lifetimes truly fortifies our position as a “university for life” (Goal 2).
In addition, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias will convene a team of community and faculty historians, staff, and Auraria legacy students to support these students by simplifying how to authenticate their families’ Aurarian residency. I expect this work will expand our ability to identify all who are eligible for the scholarships.
The establishment of this unique, innovative, tri-institutional campus, while carrying a difficult history, has made it possible for so many people to improve their own lives through an affordable, high-quality education. Through the scholarship expansion, we will forever honor the displaced Aurarians and their families. We are pleased to be taking this next important step in collaboration with our communities and in service of our students.