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University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor's Office records

Identifier: COU:2347


Papers contain the files, reports, correspondence, speeches, memoranda, and policies of the Chancellor's Office, University of Colorado at Boulder. The four campus system was created at the University of Colorado in 1972 and began operations in 1974. These records officially date from 1974 to 1989, but contain some files and documents dating from the late 1960s which were brought forward on an issue by issue basis. The four campuses, Boulder, Denver, Health Sciences Center, and Colorado Springs, were given chancellors for local administration. The tasks of academic affairs, student affairs, and administration were passed to the chancellors, with the President's Office initially holding back only external relations and budget and finance. The 1974-1989 papers reflects the attention given to affirmative action and minority affairs, CCHE, Program Review, faculty salaries, capital construction and campus development.


  • Creation: 1974 - 1989

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Historical Note

The University of Colorado was led and administered by its president for ninety eight years, until cumulative growth, political decisions, and bureaucratic problems forced a further delineation of university administration. In 1924, the University of Colorado Medical School and hospital had moved to Denver. To forestall the proliferation of competing universities on the Front Range, CU opened Centers in Denver and Colorado Springs in the early 1960s. At the same time, the administration of the university expanded exponentially. From 1960 to 1970 the number of vice presidents increased from two to seven, with vice presidents taking on student affairs, budget and planning, administration, academic affairs, health affairs, research, provost, the centers, and other duties. Vice presidents and deans from Boulder oversaw the operation, standards, and performance of distant centers during the 1960s and early 1970s. The president directly administered the Boulder campus, the Medical School, and the centers, while casting tie breaking votes with the six member Board of Regents.

The period between 1957 and 1974 was the period of greatest growth at CU: on Boulder Campus, at the Medical School, and at the centers. It was also a time of rapid growth in student enrollment, a time of transformation from a teaching to a recognized research institution, a time of increasing National Science Foundation grant research. These sixteen years made up the period of student rebellion: against the Vietnam War; against In Loco Parentis; for the broadening of the curriculum, for increasing minority hires and enrollment. The political balance on the Board of Regents forced the Presidents between 1957 and 1974 to cast an increasing number of tie breaking votes on publicly controversial issues. The politicizing of the presidency during the decade and a half of student unrest had severe repercussions in the press and in the state legislature.

A critical bench mark in the development of the president's office, university administration, and the creation of a multi-campus organization was the 1972 passage of an amendment to articles VIII and IX of the Constitution of the State of Colorado. In a trade with the state legislature, the legislature gained ultimate power over the University in return for an increase in the number of regents from six to nine (to preclude ties). Furthermore, the president was removed from ex officio membership on the board, ending the president's controversial role as the tie-breaking vote. The president's relationship with the board was defined as subordinate in the statement that the president "shall carry out the policies and programs established by the Board of Regents." Hence, while the Regents were placed on equal footing with other governing boards, subject to constitutional and statutory requirements, the president was placed more specifically under regent control. Amendment 4, on the same ballot, authorized the creation of branch campuses for the University, requiring a wholesale reorganization of university administration. The next year, President Thieme presented a plan for a new four campus system to the new nine member Board of Regents. The plan proposed the creation of four campuses under a central administration. The new central administration was to consolidate system wide administration under the president and a vice president, "ultimately to be located off the existing Boulder Campus." The president's office was to "centralize and guarantee" the performance of the University system.

The chief administrative officer of the University would maintain the title of President, while the Chief Officer of each campus would be designated as chancellor. It is further suggested that the central administrative unit be called the Office of the President and that its organization be carefully developed so as to maximize its unique role as policy, accounting and budgeting center as well as the integrating support agent of the entire University.

Campus status was conferred on Boulder and the Health Science Center, as well as to the Denver Center and the Colorado Springs Center, each with their own more autonomous chancellor to whom campus deans would report. To no small extent, the push for a multi-campus university stemmed from a recognition that the expanding centers of the University required more administrative attention than the traditional structure afforded. The president's time was divided between university wide issues and matters of local concern, with Boulder Campus requiring a disproportionate amount of presidential time. The Centers in Denver and Colorado Springs also desired more local autonomy from Boulder campus. A multi-campus organization addressed the problems of an overburdened administration while granting local control for campus administration to newly established chancellors.

Thieme proposed that it was becoming increasingly difficult for the President to fulfill his obligations to the entire University while the office was located on one campus of that university. This may have been of particular importance since the office of the President had evolved to multi-campus authority from being the chief officer of that campus. Other campus officers and students tended to feel "disassociated" from the central administration and suspected the president's loyalties while the President's Office remained on the "original" campus. In order for the University to "move forward as a unified whole" the Central Administration needed to avoid being too closely associated with one campus. Nevertheless, the removal of the University's chief executive and central administration from the Boulder Campus, while one of the plan's chief aims, was never enacted. In 1974, the offices of the Central Administration moved from Regent Hall to 914 Broadway in Boulder, cementing the decision to keep the President's Office on the Boulder Campus.

The proposal presented a severely diminished Office of the President from President Thieme's "administration of the vice presidents." From eight vice presidents in 1973, the office would include only three: an executive vice president, a vice president for administration, and a vice president for business affairs. Functions such as academic affairs, student affairs, and faculty affairs, as well as campus budget and administration, passed to the offices of the campus chancellors. The president, vice presidents, chancellors, affirmative action officer, university council, and executive assistants and assistants to the president constituted the Cabinet of the President.

One role that was not passed to all the campuses, but was divested from the President's Office, was that of the Graduate School. The Dean of the system wide graduate school reported to the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs on the Boulder Campus, a relationship that exemplified a central problem of the four campus system. University of Colorado diplomas do not mention the campus where the degree was earned, granting the imprimatur of the University on all diplomas. The Boulder Campus was leery of granting too much academic control to the Denver and Colorado Spring Campuses, as they feared that standards would be watered down. Boulder faculty and administrators feared that any lowering of standards at other campuses would reflect on the reputation of CU Boulder. The other campuses wanted autonomy from Boulder and resented accusations of lower standards. A compromise took eight years to achieve, nevertheless it was the only solution which was mutually agreeable - the recreation of a vice presidency of academic affairs and dean of the graduate school. Unfortunately, with the passage of time and institutional memory, the issue of redundancy has often brought forward the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs as a candidate for jettison, a step that would require intercampus parity in academic standards.

The first years of the Boulder Chancellorship were probably eased by the wholesale transfer of experienced personnel from the offices of the various vice presidents that were eliminated. Lawson Crowe, the first Boulder Campus Chancellor, had been the former Vice President for Research and Provost. J. Russell Nelson had been Vice President for Budget & Planning and Executive Vice President. Presidents Roland Rautenstraus and Arnold Weber (1975-1984) tended to become deeply involved in Boulder campus issues, demonstrating that expectations of the role of the President were slower to change than were institutional organization charts. This overlapping authority may have contributed to the short terms of three of the four first Chancellors. While Presidents often served five or more years, no Chancellor before 1985 served more than three, most only two.

E. Gordon Gee's presidency was the first of a new style of chief executive at the University of Colorado. Gee left the campuses to their own administration and spent much of his time raising funds for the University with corporations, alumni, the state legislature, and interest groups, while improving the University's image in the media. The President's Office began enforcing a chain of authority through specific Chancellor's Offices, refusing to interfere in campus issues without the approval of appropriate campus officials.

James N. Corbridge was appointed Chancellor of Boulder Campus in 1986. A veteran administrator, he had worked his way up through the offices of the Vice Presidency of Student Relations under Rautenstraus between 1968 and 1970, to become a long time VP of Student and Minority Affairs. He had held this post during a time of student demonstrations against the war, ethnic and racial disturbances, but most of all during the redefinition of students from "children" to adults. As Chancellor, Corbridge delegated to able Vice Chancellors, Assistant Vice Chancellors, and Associate Vice Chancellors, among whom were Bruce Ekstrand (VPAA), Stuart Takeuchi (VPA), Chris Zafiratos (AVC for Budget and Planning), Richard Harpel (Asst. to the Chancellor and Director of Planning), and Robert Sievers (Assoc. VC for Research). Three of these later became vice presidents at CU. One was elected to the Board of Regents. Kay Howe, another vice chancellor, would later be appointed President of Western State College at Gunnison. Through the cooperation between Gee and Corbridge, and with able administration of the Chancellors Office, plans were developed for a campus building boom that would move beyond the additions applied to existing structures in the 1980s. A new team house in Folsom Stadium, a new math building, a new engineering structure, new parking structures, and a new co-generation plant revitalized the campus. The Chancellor’s Office participated in creating the Research Park and renovating the Academy Building into a center for CU retirees, as well as successfully completing the long awaited renovation of Old Main and Hale Science. Despite the fact that the President oversaw the Athletic Department, the publicity surrounding three consecutive Big Eight Football Championships (1989, 1990, 1991) and National Championships in Football and Skiing brought luster to the reputation of Boulder Campus, as enrollment applications soared.

Chancellor Corbridge served from 1986 to 1994, but during the presidency of Gee's successor, Judith Albino (1991-1995), difficulties began to arise. The story of administrative events between 1993 and 1995 is not altogether clear, nor has any study been performed beyond the surface work of journalists. President Albino, neither a seasoned administrator nor someone with deep roots in the University administration, often dabbled in Boulder Campus affairs. Chief among these was her ending of a Boulder Campus student hunger strike by supporting the creation of departmental status for Ethnic Studies. These actions occurred despite her office's strictures not do so. Unable to follow her predecessor's success with the media, she constantly found herself besieged by the press and television, especially on matters that carried over from Gee's administration. But what Gee could often successfully explain to the press and state legislators, Albino sometimes could not. The President and the Boulder Campus came under continuous press scrutiny and criticism from 1992 to 1994.

In the face of this wave of media vitriol and perhaps in contrast to Gee so recent in their memories, Boulder Campus faculty and administrators revolted. In February of 1994, Vice Chancellor Ekstrand, along with the Deans of the Law School, the School of Journalism, the University Libraries, and Arts and Sciences issued an invitation to President Albino to a meeting, the purpose of which was a request for her resignation. When President Albino arrived with supporting members of the Board of Regents and members of the media, she caught the Boulder Campus Administrators by surprise. In the ensuing publicity war, the press, no friend of Albino, found itself on the President's side. Despite votes of no confidence from several of the University campuses, the Boulder Campus Deans never were able to state their case clearly or convincingly to the public. The long, drawn out controversy tarnished both the presidency and the Boulder Campus, until enough Regents shifted positions and the majority decided to offer President Albino an early release from her contract. The administrative shakeout did not end with Ms. Albino's departure in 1995, however. Chancellor Corbridge had retired in 1994, Bruce Ekstrand retired soon after, and within the next several years, the Deans of the Law, Journalism, and Arts and Sciences were replaced.

Roderick Park, from the University of California system, was named interim Chancellor amid the swirl of bad publicity, internecine wrangling, and faculty revolt in 1994. He criticized many aspects of University administration as Chancellor during his two year tenure. While Chancellor Park helped to dismantle what had been called an entrenched "old boys" network, a task made easier due to the involvement of so many deans in the action against President Albino, he was also credited with the initiation and development of a new Strategic Plan for the Boulder campus and the creation of an enrollment management plan that has reversed a slow downward trend in student enrollment. Unfortunately, like his own stay, his appointments to vice chancellor were not long standing.

Chancellors from 1974 to 1999: 1974-1976 Lawson Crowe 1976-1977 Mary Berry 1977/8 to 1980/1 J. Russell Nelson 1981/2 Milton E. Lipetz (acting) 1982/3 to 1984/5 Harrison Shull 1985/6 William H. Baughn (acting) 1986/7 to 1993/4 James N. Corbridge 1994/5 to 1996/7 Roderic B. Park 1996/7 to Present Richard Byyny


233 linear feet (465 boxes)

Language of Materials



The file are arranged using the filing system of the Chancellor's office. Please see the Scope and Content notes for an explanations of each section of the finding aid and numerical codes.

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Processing Information

The Chancellor's Office files were sent to the Archives in annual increments over a ten year period. Each annual accession was organized according to a numerical filing system which varied only occasionally from 1974-1989. The existence of repetitious, numerical systems meant that researchers were required to check the pertinent file number for each year. So time consuming was this process that the Chancellor's Office Papers were rarely used by researchers or staff.

In the Spring of 2000, for space-saving purposes, research convenience, and collection preservation, the Chancellor's Office Papers underwent complete reprocessing. The repetitive files were consolidated into one numerical filing system, conserving folders. The material was then transferred to acid-free folders and small Hollinger boxes, creating a small savings of space and serving to better preserve the papers.

Please see the Scope and Content notes for an explanations of each section of the finding aid and numerical codes.

Finding Aid encoded by Brooke Thieben, Siranush Mazmandyan, and Ashlyn Velte.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States