Sometimes the most innovative creations are inspired by the most simple and mundane acts, like taking a walk from one building to another.
In 1967, two years after Frank C. Abbott became the first executive director of the newly created Colorado Commission on Higher Education, he came up with the idea to consolidate the Community College of Denver, University of Colorado Denver (then the CU Boulder Extension Center) and Metro State on the Auraria Campus, which eventually opened its doors to all three in 1977.
He reputedly had a flash of inspiration while walking downtown from a UCD building to a Metro State building. At that time, the quickly expanding Metro State, often referred to as an “invisible campus,” was housed in various buildings downtown, and was in growing need of a centralized location. State budget issues prevented all three schools from having new and individual campuses, according to a 1987 Metropolitan Magazine article, “Soul of a New College,” written by Carson Reed.
The innovative but necessary compromise resulted in a unique campus that now educates more than 40,000 students a year among the three institutions.
In 1999, Abbott published “The Auraria Higher Education Center: How it Came to Be.” The book is an important historical reference about Auraria’s creation, and details the “innovative development, spirited controversy, intermittent provincialism and evolution” involved in the campus’s conception.
Abbott’s book is currently available at the Auraria Campus Bookstore, the Auraria and Denver Public libraries and may be ordered online from various websites.Today, Abbott is often referred to as the “Father of Auraria” for his efforts in establishing a combined campus. In 2007, a year after Abbott’s death, his legacy was honored with an outdoor reception near Ninth Street Park.
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