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A gift of wellness


Happy new semester! I hope everyone enjoyed their winter break and had a little time to relax. I spent my holidays with family and friends in Arizona. It was the Cardenas’ version of the classic film “Christmas Vacation”. We all piled into the car and, as I took hold of the wheel and headed south, I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear. Sure, part of it was the anticipation of the holiday fun ahead, but I was also smiling with pride thinking about the generous donation the university had just received in support of our student wellness center.

Big gift, big announcement

As I expect all of you have heard by now, the Friday before final exam week, University of Colorado Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, PhD, and Vice Chancellor of Advancement, Andrea Wagner, announced to the Student Government Association (SGA) that the university had received a $10 million gift from successful community business owners Lola and Rob Salazar. They also told the students that, in gratitude, the center will be called the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center, making it the first named building in CU Denver history.

Validation of student effort

So, why did this news put me in such a jolly mood? I think it’s knowing that the gift is a perfect reflection of our student-centered university. The only reason that wellness center building is nearing completion on the corner of campus is because students dreamed it up, promoted it, supported it and made it happen. That’s why “student” is right there in the name. It’s a building by students, for students, and the Salazars’ donation was given in recognition of the special things our student body brings to our urban campus community and the City of Denver. It was our students who laid the foundation for the center, so I see this gift as another validation of their efforts.

Persistent, gritty, 

My office window gives me a perfect view of the wellness center construction site. I’ve watched it rise from the dirt. Every time I look at it, I think of the student blood, sweat and tears that went into making it a reality. In their efforts and persistence, those students remind me of the gritty relentlessness of all our students.

What I’ve learned through it all is that we should never underestimate our students and their dreams. My advice to you is to never doubt them. From the wellness center to our club sports program, to our mascot, Milo the Lynx, CU Denver students continue to directly shape our campus. They are an example of who we are, what we can be and what’s still left to be achieved.

Believing in student dreams

In the case of the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center, let’s face it, $10 million is a whole lot of money. The Salazars are devoting a substantial amount of resources to our campus in an effort to support the dreams of our students and, personally, I can’t thank them enough.

We’re so glad to welcome Lola and Rob Salazar to our CU Denver community. If you think about it, they’re a lot like all of us who are devoted to CU Denver Student Affairs. They believe in our students and our campus and they believe in who we are. Just like we do.


I wish them, and all of you, a very Happy New Year!  


Raul Cardenas, PhD, Vice Chancellor, CU Denver | Anschutz Division of Student Affairs

Please contact Bonnie Hixson to schedule a time to meet

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