CU Denver launches CityCenter

New “front door” to the community increases access to the university and advances solutions to urban challenges

October 10, 2018

The University of Colorado Denver is launching an ambitious, new effort designed to offer greater access and partnership opportunities with Colorado’s only public urban research university. CityCenter at CU Denver is the new “front door” to the university and provides a portal – physical as well as virtual – for public, private and nonprofit sectors to access the faculty, staff and resources of CU Denver.

With a street-level, retail-like presence at the southwest corner of 14th & Lawrence Streets, CityCenter features floor-to-ceiling windows that underscore the transparent and welcoming relationship it will foster with the thriving regional community. Staffed during business hours, it’s open to community members who would like to tap the university’s knowledgeable faculty, innovative student population and research capabilities.

“At CityCenter, we’ll match our faculty expertise and student ingenuity with civic and business leaders looking for ideas and solutions,” said CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell. “We envision it as a place where partnerships are formed, talent and knowledge are shared, and innovative solutions to urban challenges are advanced.”

Denver and its research university, a powerful collaboration

Modeled after partnerships between urban research universities and leading international cities such as New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, CityCenter at CU Denver was created in collaboration with the City of Denver, with the direct involvement of Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.  “Most of the top international cities across the globe boast partnerships that leverage the academic power of their hometown urban research university,” said Mayor Hancock. “CityCenter will ensure we harness the power of CU Denver’s urban scholarship to propel our region forward.”

The partnership with the City of Denver is a working model for relationships with other municipalities throughout the Front Range.  From commissioned research on urban issues such as affordable housing, safety and security, gentrification and public health to events such as exhibitions, panel discussions and lectures related to urban-focused work, CityCenter will serve as the matchmaker between CU Denver’s capabilities and the community.

CityCenter will be overseen by Nolbert Chavez, CU Denver’s chief of external initiatives and former state legislator. “It’s not always easy to know how to interact with a university or access its resources,” said Chavez.  “We hope CityCenter can make doing so much more seamless, blurring boundaries between campus and community.”

Imagine a Great Region

Imagine a Great Region, a growth planning research project, is CityCenter’s first initiative

CityCenter is tackling regional urban issues around growth as its first initiative entitled Imagine a Great Region. This effort will bring together various community partners to foster cross-sector, regional conversations on growth while producing research to inform these conversations.   Led by faculty experts working hand-in-hand with students from across the CU Denver campus, research will address topics such as mobility and transportation, housing access and affordability, natural resources, access to amenities and education.

The multi-year initiative will bring together forward-thinking community partners across the Front Range to convene regional dialogues, advance knowledge and disseminate findings about managing urban growth in deliberate, sustainable and equitable ways.

CityCenter will also recognize the work of CU Denver faculty in urban-related research and scholarship.  Each year, the new TIAA Chancellor’s Urban Engagement Scholars program will honor one faculty member for excellence in urban-related studies in each of the university’s seven schools and colleges.  Scholars will collaborate on community research projects through either new or ongoing scholarship that pertains to urban issues. Scholars will receive a $5,000 stipend to further encourage their work, thanks to a sponsorship by TIAA, the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields.

Come and knock on our door

Other specific examples of ways in which the business and civic communities can tap CityCenter include:

  • Faculty expertise: CU Denver faculty work across eight schools and colleges and in more than 40 research centers to explore a variety of issues related to urban living. CityCenter will build a bridge between cutting-edge research and community need.
  • Student expertise: At the most diverse research university in Colorado, CU Denver students working side-by-side with top-notch faculty bring fresh perspectives and energy to projects and partnerships. CityCenter will help connect the community with students via internships and student-focused projects.
  • Evaluation services: With a team of experts from across the university, CityCenter will help organizations, companies and communities by analyzing data and measuring program impact and outcomes.
  • Convening conversations: As a neutral third party with academic standing, CityCenter will facilitate community meetings and generate constructive dialogue between various audiences to increase understanding around challenging issues.
  • Leadership development: Through customized trainings, executive education opportunities and industry-specific certificates, CityCenter will offer programing for civic and community leaders to enhance their skills and propel their careers forward.