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Burwell Family Foundation gives $5M for Center for Career Achievement

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Sarah Satterwhite

Senior Editor, Strategic Content and Storytelling

New Center will house career and alumni programming

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Burwell Center

DENVER - Within the changing landscape of higher education and career trajectories, the University of Denver is re-imagining services that are oriented toward the career needs of current students and the requirements of contemporary work.

Today, DU took a bold step forward thanks to a $5 million gift from the Rodney and Barbara Burwell Family Foundation that will revolutionize the University’s career achievement activities for both students and alumni. The new building that will house career and alumni programming will be named the Burwell Center for Career Achievement in honor of the Foundation’s gift.

The Burwell Center is a key element of the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan, and it will serve as the center of career development at the University. Located at the former site of the Leo Block Alumni Center, it will provide innovative and flexible spaces for students, alumni and employers to build connections and explore opportunities for collaboration. Alumni returning to campus will find the Burwell Center the ideal place to connect with each other, with faculty, with students – and with DU’s history, which will be showcased through an interactive electronic display in the building.

"The Burwell Center will be a welcoming home for students, alumni, potential employers and everyone in the DU community as we support our global DU family in their careers and their lives of purpose," said Chancellor Rebecca Chopp.

Barbara Burwell, her late husband, Rod, and their three sons – Peter, Blake and Michael – have deep ties to DU thanks to the sons’ experiences as students here. With varied interests and choosing DU for different reasons – Peter earned his undergraduate degree at Daniels College of Business, Blake earned his undergraduate degree at the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science as well as an MBA from Daniels, and Michael earned his undergraduate degree and MBA at Daniels – all of the sons contributed to campus life through involvement in the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Rod was a guest speaker at Daniels, and Barbara served on parent councils in Advancement and in Campus Life throughout her sons’ time at DU.

“Being involved as a parent, I was able to get to know the heart and soul of DU,” said Barbara. “I see how much DU offers the students, both in the classroom and far beyond the campus. There are so many opportunities beyond Evans and University – and that is what DU is preparing students for. With the programs that will happen in the Burwell Center, DU will become an over-the-top resource to equip students for what the world needs.”  

The Burwell Center will showcase the University’s commitment to sustainability and to creating spaces that serve students’ needs, both now and well into the future. Among its numerous sustainability elements will be rooftop solar panels and native Colorado features in the landscape. The Burwell Center is aspiring to become the first LEED Platinum building on the DU campus and one of the first v4 LEED Platinum buildings in the state of Colorado. It will also be one of the first all mass timber buildings in Colorado.

“The University of Denver has great physical beauty,” said Barbara. “The campus itself, the mountains nearby – we are so fortunate to spend time in this stunning environment. But the most important thing is that it works. The magic is in the programs and initiatives that happen within these buildings. And it will only get better as we create new spaces to facilitate the learning and preparation that our students and their future employers demand.”

“DU is tremendously fortunate to have the Burwell family as vital partners in creating the future of career achievement,” said Armin Afsahi, vice chancellor for advancement. “We are grateful for their involvement and investment, which will open the doors for DU to be a national leader in this field and to make a lifelong difference for our students and alumni.”

Innovative place-based programming that complements the architecture and design will enhance the University’s strong track record of student engagement in career activities – a key factor in students’ satisfaction with their educational experience and their life-long alumni connections. Over the past few years, DU’s Career and Professional Development team has nearly doubled the estimated student engagement rate at other universities, reaching nearly 70% of undergraduate students and 40% of graduate students. The Burwell Center will position DU to attain the goal of engaging 90% of students annually and 100% of students by the time they graduate, solidifying our University as a national leader in the landscape of career and professional development.

The University of Denver: Founded in 1864, the University of Denver is committed to engaging with students in advancing scholarly inquiry, cultivating critical and creative thought, and generating knowledge. As part of our strategic vision, DU IMPACT 2025, the University strives to educate the 21st-century citizens and leaders needed in its organizations and communities all while maintaining our mission to be a great, private University dedicated to the public good. For additional information, visit the University’s newsroom or follow the University on Facebook and Twitter.