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Did You Know?

Think you know MSU Denver? Think again. These fun facts will test your Roadrunner knowledge.

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In October 1994, there was a hail storm so severe that it caused major flooding to the Auraria bookstore. No texts were harmed in the incident.

In 1971, English faculty made the first push for expulsion of a student who was openly running a term paper writing business, which had become a customary service at the time.

In spring 1968, MSU Denver conferred a total of 53 associate degrees in arts and sciences to graduates. The University awarded its first bachelor’s degrees the following year.

In 1972, MSU Denver students could go to grocery and clothing stores across Denver on certain days to register for classes.

On April 18, 1977, civil rights revolutionary Stokley Carmichael spoke at an open forum on the Auraria Campus.

AHEC, the Auraria Higher Education Center, was originally known as the Auraria Higher Education Complex.

Joe Fuentes was a respected local news man who was among the first group of people to enroll at MSU Denver. He later came back to teach journalism.

On April 25, 1991, jazz legend Wynton Marsalis performed at Denver’s Paramount Theater with the MSU Denver symphony orchestra and jazz ensemble in a concert put on by the University.

By the early 1980s, schools such as University of North Carolina, University of Michigan and University of Texas started looking into MSU Denver’s urban-college model, which was really the first of its kind, to see what they might learn from it.

Virginia Castro, often overshadowed by the work of her husband Richard, was recognized for her own impressive community work as the 1992 Plain and Fancy Ball “Person of the Year.”

The transformation of the Tivoli into a student center began with a referendum in April 1991. MSU Denver student fees, which increased from $19 to $22, covered the cost of the new amenities.

In fall of 1980, Shanghai Normal University in China and MSU Denver exchanged three instructors. The Chinese faculty came to learn hospitality and teach cultural dynamics. The Roadrunners taught American culture and studied computer technology.

On Oct. 13, 1987, feminist activist and author Sonia Johnson gave a talk at the Metaphysics of Liberation conference at the student center. Nearly half a dozen women’s rights organizations at MSU Denver co-sponsored the event.

In 1968, the Masquerade Ball at MSU Denver featured music by the MSC Players and 10-cent crystal ball readings from Esmeralda the Mysterious. It was held at the first Student Center, downtown on Bannock Street.

In the late-1970s, Oxford Hotel advertised a “room with bath $77.50 per month, near campus” in the school newspaper as an option to MSU Denver students for housing. The Oxford is also a Denver landmark known for being haunted.

Ninth Street Park on the Auraria Campus was largely restored in 1977 by Historic Denver, Inc. for about $950,000. The strip of historic buildings comprises the oldest residential city block left intact in Denver.

In the early-1990s, MSU Denver students could take a political assassination class with History Professor Frank Nation, who encouraged a healthy debate around conspiracy theories.

On June 6, 1977, the student newspaper published a review of the first-ever Star Wars movie, which proclaimed that the “splendid special effects” were worth the $3.50 admission.

In January 1994 Assistant Professor Josafat Curti took students to study ancient Mayan culture in Chiapas, Mexico, a region locked in a violent dispute between the Mexican government and the Zapatista National Liberation Army. The trip was a success due largely to Curti’s creative negotiations with fighters from both sides of the conflict.

Prior to being Colorado State Representative from 1982-89, Robert Bowen was elected MSU Denver student body president in 1969 and mobilized a grassroots campaign that contributed to the establishment of the tri-institutional Auraria Campus.

An MSU Denver organization called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan helped facilitate a rally of more than 1,000 Latino Denver Public School students and their supporters at the Auraria Campus on Sept. 14, 1994, to protest the treatment of Hispanic youth in the primary education system.

Rand McNally Jr., Ph.D., was a nuclear physicist who worked on the the first atomic bomb. He spoke at an MSU Denver lecture series on Nov. 12, 1986, just prior to the release of a movie based on his experiences called “State of Emergency,” starring Martin Sheen.

On Oct. 12, 1977, former Sen. John Carroll, who served in U.S. Congress from 1947-50, presented his academic papers at a reception and announced the establishment of a Western political history institute at MSU Denver.

Nearly $600,000 had already been collected for an MSU Denver-only student center by 1972 when the Auraria Board of Directors began leaning toward a tri-institutional facility instead.

MSU Denver was created by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado in House Bill 349 on May 5, 1963, at 11:56 a.m. It was based on a 99-page plan known as the “Green Report,” named for the color of folder in which it was delivered.

Former professor of sociology, the late Rachel B. Noel, was the first African-American to be elected to the Denver Public School Board, a landmark event that occurred in 1965. A visiting distinguished professorship was created in Noel’s honor and continues at MSU Denver today.

MSU Denver was the first college in Colorado to offer certification-level training in wine, a unique opportunity made possible through a partnership with the International Sommelier Guild that started in 2003.

A bust of Martin Luther King Jr. created by MSU Denver art student Ron Kessinger in 1969 was displayed at Denver’s Manual High School for 45 years until it went missing in May 2015. The sculpture was quickly found in the home of the artist, who had taken it to perform restoration.

Across the 1980s and 90s, MSU Denver’s biggest fundraiser was an annual party called the “Plain and Fancy Ball.” Members of the Broncos, Nuggets and local media personalities such as Peter Boyles regularly participated in the event.

On Oct. 19, 1968, Allan Cohen, Ph.D., who worked with Timothy Leary at U.C. Berkeley, shared his research on psychedelic drugs at the MSU Denver student center. He was joined by Harvard graduate Rich Chapman who spent a year in India comparing the effects of psychedelics to Eastern spiritual practices.

Veterans Upward Bound is one of the longest-running organizations at MSU Denver. It started in 1972 to provide academic assistance to soldiers returning from the Vietnam War and continues to help veterans acclimate to college today.

On one day in the 1970s, 18 students were cited for jaywalking in just 90 minutes at the intersection of 10th and Lawrence streets as they attempted to get to class on time. That location is now a footpath on the Auraria Campus.

On Sept. 27, 1996, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Oliver North debated a broad range of domestic policy issues, including race relations, citizens' rights and the proper role of government in U.S. society at a tri-institutional event supported by MSU Denver.

In nature, a group of roadrunners gathered together is referred to as either a “marathon” or “race.” In fall 2014, there were 21,179 Roadrunners enrolled in the MSU Denver marathon.

The first enrollees that flocked to MSU Denver in the late 1960s were referred to by local officials and the media as “the thundering herd from the lower third,” because anybody who graduated high school was admitted – an open-enrollment policy that continues today.

During Ken Phillips’ six-year tenure as MSU Denver’s first official president, enrollment increased more than sixfold from an initial 1,189 to more than 7,200.

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