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In the Middle of It All

“Now which way do we go?” – Dorothy
“Pardon me. This way is a very nice way.” – Scarecrow

I was never much on mingling when I went to a party, but then again, I didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun. That’s why I hung out in the kitchen. Sooner or later, everyone made their way into the kitchen to get something to eat or drink. It didn’t take me long to figure out if the party was good. If the foot traffic was slow, it was time to cut my losses and go elsewhere. On the other hand, if the party was good, it usually came to me without much effort.

Sitting in the Middle, but Not Stuck in the Middle

This, of course, brings me to Denver, Colorado.

Denver, Colorado

Denver has the enviable position of being in the middle of it all. Located 360 miles east of the geographic center of the continental United States, Denver offers excellent business and career opportunities in a variety of fields tied to our industry, including energy, mining, agriculture and financial services.

Energy: Colorado ranks ninth in crude oil production, fifth in natural gas production and 11th in coal production.1 A 2010 Colorado Oil & Gas Association study stated that the oil and gas industry supports more than 107,000 jobs and contributes almost $32 billion to the economy.2 It also ranks fifth nationwide in the amount of solar power generated by photovoltaic panels.3 The American Wind Energy Association places Colorado 12th in the nation in wind energy.

Mining: According to the Colorado Mining Association’s most recent statistics, sales related to mining in 2008 were $3 billion.4

Agriculture: The 2012 Executive Summary on the economic contribution of Colorado’s agricultural industry showed sales at $24 billion, with direct employment of 77,140 jobs. If indirect employment is considered, that number jumps to 172,921.5

Financial Services: MetroDenver.org describes Denver as the “Wall Street of the West,” stating that the Denver/Northern Colorado region has a financial services industry comprised of 13,020 companies that employ 87,750 employees.

Location, Location, Location

This brings us to the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), which is highly engaged with the TT University Program. Located in downtown Denver, CU Denver’s business school officially opened its new location in August of 2012, but the plans to create an environment within the Denver business community had been in the works for quite some time. The vision was not to build the business school in the Denver business community, but to make the school part of the Denver business community.

The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver)

That vision is something Dean Sueann Ambron takes very seriously. Dr Ambron has been the dean since 2000 and brings with her some rather impressive credentials. She began her career on the faculty of Stanford University. While working at Paramount and Viacom, she pioneered work in multimedia. She was the general manager of the multimedia division at Motorola, and she founded the Apple Multimedia lab that developed the first motion-picture and music prototypes integrating digital media. Add to this her participation on the steering committee for the Denver Area Plan to create a 20-year vision for the city, and you have a powerful driving force behind the business school’s expansion.

The expansion took a leap forward when the university purchased property in the form of a building and land, which is now the home of the business school facilities. CU Denver acquired a centrally located building just steps away from the 16th Street Mall and down the block from Denver’s business center in 2008. The mission was to consolidate the many aspects of the business school in a location that serves the business community and benefits from those relationships.

Students gain experience using TT’s X_TRADER®
software at CU Denver’s Center for Commodities

My initial experience was walking through the building as it was under construction in the summer of 2011. As I was led through a tour of what “would be,” I couldn’t help but think that this was going to be a long process. To my surprise, the construction was completed only six months later, and the building opened in August of 2012. The 120,000 square feet are enough for 20 classrooms, a common area, board rooms and a commodities center complete with an impressive trading lab. TT is proud to be a technology provider for the commodities center.

Driving Success Through Corporate Collaboration

As part of the “education corridor” in Denver, CU Denver’s facilities encourage integration of the university and its students into Denver’s businesses. The university has developed partnerships with numerous companies that span multiple industries. The business school has a Board of Advisors that is instrumental in directing the school in general, plus there are five advisory boards that focus on the specific needs of particular programs. I am pleased to serve on the Advisory Board for the Center for Commodities, which has representatives from banking, energy, mining, agriculture, trading and insurance.

CU Denver’s central locale makes these diverse industries readily accessible to curriculum development, student employment and business school growth. It’s important to point out that location works both ways, as it helps position the various facets of CU Denver’s business school for easy transmission into the business community. An urban setting may not conjure up the traditional image of college life, but when it comes to a business school, it gives the students a front row seat to where they want to be after graduation.

The business school’s Mission Statement emphasizes research, teaching, experience and a strong collaborative relationship with the community. These characteristics reflect the faculty of the school. As you examine staff CVs, you see PhDs from prestigious schools like Yale, Harvard, MIT and Stanford. You’ll also find a number of them bring industry experience from a variety of well-known companies. In addition, many are actively involved on committees and boards in the community at large.

Universities like CU Denver “get it.” Between the demands of industry, the cost of education and the challenge of job placement, they know it takes a strong commitment to academics as well as industry to prepare students for the workplace and to serve the workplace at large. Of course if you’re located in Denver with its energy, mining, ag and finance industries, you’re in the middle of it all.

1 EIA State Profile and Energy Estimates, July 2012.
2 COGA, “Fueling Economic Growth: The Impact of Colorado’s Oil and Gas Industry.”
3 EIA State Profile and Energy Estimates, July 2012.
4 “Colorado Geological Survey, Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities Report” and “CMA Annual Survey of Coal and Mineral Producers.”
5 “The Contribution of Agriculture to Colorado’s Economy: An Executive Summary 2012,” Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University.

Posted by: Leo Murphy, TT CampusConnect™ Program Manager

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