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Bucksbaums’ $2.5 Million Gift Accelerates Adventure at Kennedy Mountain Campus

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Sarah Satterwhite

Senior Editor, Strategic Content and Storytelling

Announcement  •
KMC Ropes Course

James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus

Just say yes to adventure. You never know what might happen.

Through the generosity of John (BA ’78) and Jacolyn Bucksbaum, students at the University of Denver will have the setting, equipment, and training to say yes to adventure at the University of Denver’s James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus.

The Bucksbaums’ $2.5 million gift establishes and equips the John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum Family Outdoor Gateway at the Kennedy Mountain Campus. The hub of all equipment check-out and entry point to trails and other activities, the Bucksbaum Outdoor Gateway opens the door to adventure for all students.

At the Bucksbaum Outdoor Gateway, students will learn how to use equipment required for their adventures. Clothing and supplies for the 8,000-foot altitude will equip them to navigate the Kennedy Mountain Campus in all seasons. No matter what level of skill or resources they bring, students will step out of their comfort zone to explore and learn. From their KMC experience, they will gain knowledge and skills to tackle challenges successfully.

“John and Jackie Bucksbaum, through their visionary commitment to the Kennedy Mountain Campus, are clearing the way for all students to access the opportunities of the outdoors,” says Chancellor Jeremy Haefner. “Their leadership serves as an inspiration and a catalyst for our students to thrive in outdoor leadership.”

James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus
James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus

For the Bucksbaums, spending time outdoors and gaining a lifelong education from those experiences are invaluable opportunities. From childhood summer camps to taking their sons on ski trips, they have long valued the lessons learned in the outdoors. This gift to the Kennedy Mountain Campus unites their passion for the outdoors and their passion for DU.

“The Kennedy Mountain Campus opens the door for students, faculty, and staff to experience something different from the norm,” says Jackie. “Being outdoors gets you out of your day-to-day and improves mental health. And when you do something that takes you outside your comfort zone, you build character.”

The physical space of the Bucksbaum Outdoor Gateway provides a basecamp for adventure, with equipment and programs that will scale up over time. Students will interact with experts – adding to the constellation of mentors of their DU journey – learning technical skills as well as interpersonal leadership skills. Courses in wilderness first aid, skill-building in backpacking and hiking, and outdoor leadership programming are some of the many options that students can pursue. Certifications and trainings will be available in the months and years to come, expanding the range of adventure options for students.

“A student’s DU experience is not just in the classroom,” says Matt Jensen, director of outdoor experience and programs at the Kennedy Mountain Campus. “Often what students do outside the classroom is equally important to their development and pathway towards a career. At KMC, students navigate challenges together, work towards a common goal, and complete the task despite challenges. This gift from the Bucksbaums enhances that experience, giving students more opportunities to build a well-rounded skill set for the future.”

John and Jacolyn Bucksbaums
John and Jacolyn Bucksbaum

John is a 1978 DU graduate and member of DU’s Board of Trustees, and he and Jackie served on the Parents Leadership Council, chairing the Council for several years, when their son Eli was a DU student. The couple’s positive experiences in leadership and as DU parents, along with the opportunity to expand the Kennedy Mountain Campus experience to more students in more ways, inspired their gift.

“Most college campuses don’t offer a retreat-like experience where students can bond, go on high ropes for the first time, and share that space in nature,” says John. “Being in nature in this way shifts a person’s perspective, enhances the educational experience, and helps build leadership skills. DU students will learn skills there that they will take to their careers, helping to lead others.”

With DU’s vibrant urban campus complemented by the Kennedy Mountain Campus, the Bucksbaums hope that their gift will help set DU apart from other schools. In the adventures that follow from the Bucksbaum Outdoor Gateway, students will build grit, tenacity, and resilience. Because of the Bucksbaums’ generosity, students from all walks of life will extend their learning through all that the Kennedy Mountain Campus has to offer in adventure and leadership training – experiences that will prepare them for life and leadership. 

To make a gift in support of outdoor leadership at the Kennedy Mountain Campus, contact Amanda Stewart at