Auraria Campus Vigil for People of Ukraine

Chancellor Marks addresses the AHEC community, as they come together in support of one another, and for peace in Ukraine

May 2, 2022

Good afternoon — it’s an honor to join my fellow leaders and so many students from our three institutions at this important event.

What painful but necessary words we just heard.

I want to echo all of what has been said already.

And I want to thank you — again — for being here and showing your support.

My heart — our hearts — go out to everyone affected by the tragedy in Ukraine.

It’s deeply unsettling to witness the magnitude of this military activity in the context of our world history over the past century.

I also know it’s easy to feel very far away and quite helpless when it comes to supporting people and communities on the other side of the world.

But as a community of higher education — and as a tri-institutional campus — the work that we do here to share knowledge, promote diplomacy, and build inclusive communities — it does make a real difference.

Today proves that.

I want to tell you a quick story about how this vigil came to be.

Because it’s a testament to the power that our students at CU Denver, MSU, and CCD have — and the change that they can bring to so many lives when they commit themselves to that purpose.

So here it is: This semester, a small group of 6 CU Denver graduate students were taking Dr. Peter Kopp’s History@Work course, which is the foundation of CU Denver’s Public History Program.

The course offers hands-on work in the community that draws upon best practices in the profession.

The students decided to focus their work on the Golda Meir House Museum.

They catalogued collections, developed a docent-led tour where they shared their knowledge in informal, interactive sessions; and they proposed new exhibits for the museum.

Through their experiences, they became inspired by Golda's Ukrainian immigrant and social justice story.

We heard that story from Lena Fishman already — thank you, Lena.

We heard how Golda’s commitment to social justice given the circumstances of her own background and her perseverance, ideals, and dedication to changing the world led her to becoming Israel’s first (and so far only) female prime minister, among many other achievements.

I can see why this remarkable story spoke to our students and inspired them.

Because I see this story living right here on our campus, through the work and impact of so many of you and your peers.

There’s a real kinship in this dedication and purpose to push through life’s challenges and change the world.

And that connection erases any historical or geographical boundaries.

Leaning into that connection, being guided by it, the students in Dr. Kopp’s course worked together and even brought in one of their other peers to conceive of this event, and they approached Lena to help make it a reality.

So here we are.

We’re gathered together more than 5,400 miles away from Kyiv to stand in solidary with the Ukrainian people’s fight and to acknowledge that, yes, what our students do here does make a difference.

It reaches far beyond our campus.

And it can change the world.

I’m so, so proud because I have the opportunity to be a part of that change.

It’s a remarkable privilege.

And it’s the reason that I have dedicated my life to higher education and the reason that I wanted to continue that work here at CU Denver.

I want to take this chance to personally thank our CU Denver graduate students who made this event possible:

  • Lee Bishop
  • Grace Foster
  • Summer Carper
  • Caleb Hintze 
  • Elizabeth Fresquez
  • Kathryn Leonard
  • And Teresa Donahue

What an honor it is to work with you and see the impact you make.

I know that you’ll also be providing a tour of the Golda Meir House Museum for anyone who is interested after this event.

So I hope all of us here take this incredible opportunity to join these students, hear their words, and learn more about how Golda’s remarkable story continues to strengthen the impact our Lynx make.

I also want to take this chance to thank our representatives from our CU Denver, MSU, and CCD Student Government Associations who helped support and promote this event.

CU Denver in particular has 5 students as part of our campus community who self-identify with Ukraine.

I can’t imagine the hurt that they must be feeling, the anxiety, and the anger.

But today we can stand with them — and in spirit with their families, friends, and loved ones.

In full support.

And we stand with all people everywhere as we collectively work to find more ways to support a country and a global community that is suffering a great deal.

This tragedy drags on.

Every day I watch in horror at what we’re learning.

And while it’s easy to feel helpless, just know that this event — and everything all of you are doing in your own way — is significant.

So thank you again to our students for your compassion and commitment.

And thank you for letting me speak today.

Remarks by:

Michelle Marks
CU Denver Chancellor