University of Denver Winter 2024

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Winter 2024

DU Skiing Retrospective Global heritage and unrelenting drive weave through team’s success



Contents Winter 2024 FEATURES 18 DU Skiing Retrospective Global heritage and unrelenting drive weave through team’s success 24 AI for the Public Good Despite ethical landmines, innovations in artificial intelligence can be leveraged to address society’s problems 30 Climate Change—More Than Extreme Weather DU researchers on the less visible signs of climate change 303.871.2711 Volume 24, Issue 2

Co-Interim Vice Chancellor Shira Good Director of Communications Gretchen Pressley

Director of Creative & Brand Management Amy Miller

Managing Editor Joy Hamilton

Art Director Jeff Lukes

Senior Editor Heather Hein


Contributing Writers Emma Atkinson Janette Ballard Matt Meyer Connor Mokrzycki Designers Kari Burns Brooke Harman Production Designer Todd Fisher Photographer Wayne Armstrong

4 Campus Update 8 Academics 10 Research 12 Arts 14 Giving Back 16 Releases 33 Alumni Connections

Distribution Coordinator William Colner

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVES @ Don’t miss: DU DNA in a city near you Flip-flop-wearing Daniels professor Stephen Haag retires after 29 years Catching up with alumna Katie Hensien, DU’s first American alpine ski Olympian since 1972 5 questions with a DU employee tasked with fostering healthy masculinity

The University of Denver Magazine is published four times a year (fall, winter, spring and summer) by the University of Denver, Division of Marketing and Communications, 2199 S. University Blvd., Denver, CO 80208-4816. The University of Denver (Colorado Seminary) is an Equal Opportunity Institution.

Printed on 10% PCW recycled paper


Photo by Wayne Armstrong

A force for good in Denver and Colorado LETTER FROM THE CHANCELLOR By Jeremy Haefner

that will serve them on the snow and well beyond—much like our featured former skier, a successful entrepreneur and current member of the DU Board of Trustees. I also continually learn new ways DU makes an impact in Denver—particularly in the well-being space. In Colorado, 40% of mental health professionals received a DU education. Our psychology program has over 165 connections with community partners, and we are one of the largest Medicaid out-patient providers of well-being services in Colorado. The importance of these professionals has never been greater, as you can read about in our story on climate change and its invisible effects on people and their well-being. Across disciplines, our faculty conduct research in partnership with and, ultimately, in service of the Denver community. In this issue, we look at how one faculty member is studying and improving air quality in Denver and how another is using artificial intelligence to

Photo by Wayne Armstrong

foster better outcomes for young people experiencing substance abuse disorders. One DU faculty member is spearheading a mobile preschool initiative, while others collaborate with community partners to address critical infrastructure access, including safe drinking water, for Denver’s unhoused population. This is only a tiny fraction of the myriad ways DU is deeply committed to a strong future for Denver and Colorado. In fact, we were recently recognized again by the national Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of only 368 institutions with exceptional community engagement. We have held this recognition since 2007 and hope to continue proudly earning it for decades to come. It is an honor to be not only a destination for a high-quality, holistic education, but also a beacon of public good for our neighbors near and far.

Many of our students come from across the U.S.— across the world, even—not only for an exceptional DU education but also to enjoy all our location offers. The University of Denver is, in so many ways, Denver’s University. Our connection to Colorado through our community partnerships, economic impact, graduate pipeline and research output shape our current initiatives and future aspirations. This edition of DU Magazine delves into a signature part of Colorado culture: skiing. I am proud that DU’s Division I NCAA skiing program attracts elite skiers from around the world, who join fellow enthusiasts on the Rocky Mountain slopes. For both our student athletes and our weekend warriors, skiing is a source of community and connection. Through our program, DU’s student-athletes prove themselves in competition all while developing a robust education and set of skills



What DU Can Do

SAVE THE DATE Join us for the public launch of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the University of Denver’s history. This campaign will reimagine the promise of higher education, make transformation possible and raise everyone’s hopes for the future. Community Launch Celebration Friday, April 19, 2024 4:00 – 7:00 PM The Daniel L. Ritchie Center, Magness Arena Be part of the festivities as we come together to publicly launch DU’s most ambitious campaign in history! Join us for an immersive and engaging celebration that highlights the best of DU and brings our innovative and distinctive vision for the future to life.



Campus comes alive for Homecoming 2023 CELEBRATING DU

Congratulations to 2023 Sturm College of Law grad Stephen May and GSSW’s Mariegrace Veres for their top finishes. Last but not least, hundreds of hockey fans bundled up and trekked through Saturday’s snowstorm for

Hundreds of students, alumni, friends and family descended on campus at the end of October for Homecoming 2023, a week-long celebration of DU community and spirit that included a wide variety of activities—and weather. “It was energizing to see the community brave the winter weather to enjoy the festivities and cheer on our hockey players as they shut out Air Force,” said University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner. Earlier in the week, when the weather was sunny and the fall colors bright, the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University Libraries and the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) joined together to put on the first ever FamFair, a community event featuring talks by child development experts and fun family activities focused on movement and play. The Student Veteran Association (SVA) also hosted its annual Hero Games, where participants tested their strength and endurance in teams of four, raising funds for the SVA while honoring fallen service members. Mid-week, the third annual Denver Democracy Summit, hosted by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, brought experts, academics and thought leaders to DU for two days of civil discourse on the state of democracy. The weekend got off to an energizing start with the 11th annual Crimson Classic 5K/1.5-mile walk. More than 1,000 runners and walkers registered for this year’s event.

Hocktoberfestival at Gates Field House. They mingled and enjoyed the Crimson & Gold Beer & Wine Garden, featuring alumni-owned and affiliated businesses, and the Kennedy Mountain Campus “neighborhood,” complete with a rock-climbing wall and ropes course, before packing in to Magness Arena to watch the Pioneers’ spectacular 4-0 victory on the ice.

CREATING CONNECTIONS Storytelling initiative gives DU community a voice

their roles on campus but as people—learning from each other and all of our diverse experiences,” says Kadijha Kuanda, a graduate fellow in C+V who, along with Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Jeff Banks, spearheads the initiative. Banks, who led a similar program at the University of Arkansas called the Human Library, says the long-term vision is for stories to be shared through a variety of creative expressions, such as one-on-one and group conversations, spoken word, art and poetry. C+V is considering ways to broaden the impact, such as all-day events at multiple venues, involving alumni and community leaders and connecting people with mentors or resources related to their stories. For now, stories are being video recorded and will be archived on the Digication platform for the DU community to access. Banks sees Story Mosaic as an opportunity for both personal and institutional growth, much in line with the 4D Experience. “It’s about individuals listening and learning and taking away something personally from the experience, but it’s also about finding key themes that we can act upon to benefit the entire community.”

Nearly three dozen students, faculty and staff members from across campus came together in mid-October for the launch of Story Mosaic: Sharing Stories, Building Community. Led by the Community + Values (C+V) team in the Depart ment of Human Resources and Inclusive Community, the storytelling initiative brings

together community members to exchange stories as a means of practicing reflection and building a community that is welcoming and supportive of all. At the launch event, participants told a story

in response to one of two questions: “What was your path to DU?” or “What is a key experience you’ve had at DU?” The audience was invited to ask follow-up questions, which storytellers could answer if they felt comfortable. Participants were asked to follow specific guidelines to ensure a safe and respectful space. “It was wonderful to see people coming together, not in

Photo by Wayne Armstrong



2023 was a banner year for research and scholarship at DU. Less than two years after the University reached R1 status—the highest tier of research universities—faculty, staff and students across departments and colleges have been instrumental in raising the bar, bringing in a record number of grants, publishing dozens of books and sharing DU’s expertise with the world. DU research and scholarship by the numbers

$62.1 million Amount of new award funding DU received this year, a record for the University. Of the 147 new grants funded, 126 were more than $500K. 262 Number of principal and co principal investigators, which has tripled in the last 10 years, thanks largely to brand-new faculty involved in grant awards. 49 Number of books authored by faculty across eight departments and colleges, including 21 from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. 36,912 Number of times the work of DU faculty was cited this year.

$3.99 million Amount of one of the largest grants awarded this year, to Morgridge College of Education from the Caring for Colorado Foundation for the Wellbeing and Equity in Rural Colorado Schools (WERCS) project. Elaine Belansky of the Center for Rural School Health and Education leads the 5-year project, which will implement mental health strategies for youth and staff in 31 rural schools in southeast and south central Colorado. 721 Number of times DU was mentioned in the media, including 478 local and 243 national outlets—a 16% increase over the previous year. Outlets included U.S. News & World Report, The Hill, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Law and The Denver Post.

631 Number of student researchers who received grant funding from DU in 2023, including 147 graduate assistantships—a 71% increase over pre-pandemic levels. 2,843 Master’s degrees awarded. 425 Doctoral degrees awarded. 2 Number of DU Undergraduate Research Journal issues published, including 14 articles, biographies and interviews—all authored and peer reviewed by undergraduates.


4D IN ACTION Mentorship that matters

may be able to fulfill several of a student’s needs. But more likely, a student will rely on many people as their needs evolve and change.” The goal is for students to have 7–10 mentors by the time they graduate, a number that studies show makes it three times more likely that they consider college “rewarding.” A mentor can be almost anyone a student comes into contact with on campus, such as a faculty member, a wellness coach, a study abroad advisor, an alumnus, a career advisor or a peer. From the moment students step on campus, first-year seminar (FSEM) advisors help them get the support they need by having conversations about what they are thinking and doing to fulfill the dimensions of the 4D Experience— and connecting them to resources and people who can further help. Mentor experiences are tracked and facilitated through an online platform, CrimsonConstellation, which is integrated with the new My4D app. Anderson-Lehman says a number of initiatives are in the works to help faculty and staff hone their mentoring skills and strengths. “Our goal is for everyone to feel supported as we guide students in discovering who they are and inspire them to achieve, at DU and beyond.”

Ask any alum about their experience at DU, and you’ll likely hear about a professor or staff member who had a significant impact on their education, career or life. This is why the University is committed to ensuring all students have a “a constellation of mentors”—a group of individuals who support and nurture their growth and development during their time here. “Research shows there is a correlation between graduates’ overall opinion of their college experience and sense of whether college was ‘worth it’ and the number of relation ships they had with faculty and staff while in school,” says Sam Anderson-Lehman, associate director of 4D mentoring and planning. When the class of 2027 started this fall, they were assigned a core group of mentors and advisors, including a 4D peer mentor, their first-year seminar faculty mentor, an academic advisor and a residential peer mentor. As they continue on their academic journey, students add to their constellation a variety of people who provide feedback, emotional support, access to opportunities and professional development, accountability and a safe space to share their experiences. Most of those relationships begin organically, Anderson Lehman says. “In some cases, a single mentor or advisor


Alumni envy: 7 First-Year Seminars we secretly want to join ACADEMICS

Photos by Wayne Armstrong

above) helps students understand the past and present of Colorado’s rivers by critically examining human impacts such as mining, dams, wildfires, recreation, urbanization and climate change, as well as discussing strategies for a sustainable future. Students come away with knowledge of basic hydro-ecologic form and the function of rivers through classroom and river-based field excursions. 2 Bathrooms as a Political Space Bathrooms have been the site of intense political struggle throughout American history. Americans have clashed over racially segregated bathrooms, equal space for women, a right to rest breaks at work, toilets that are accessible for people with disabilities and safe access for transgender individuals. In this class, Professor Sara Chatfield guides students in exploring how courts, legislatures and social movements have interacted to shape the politics of the bathroom. Students look at politics and policy around the country, but also at how these issues have played out (and are still contested) at the local level in Denver.

Born out of the expertise and sometimes quirky interests of faculty, first-year seminars (FSEMs) underscore how every aspect of the world around us can be understood through an academic lens. From smartphones and road trips to the politicization of bathrooms and the personal stories of immigrants, these intimate classes propel students into thinking critically about today’s biggest and most intriguing issues as they begin their higher education journey. Serving as a gateway to the 4D Experience, students also contemplate their own lives within the context of the course with the guidance of a faculty mentor. Here are our top seven FSEM picks from this year’s course catalog that make us nostalgic for the first-year classroom. 1 Colorado’s Rivers Colorado is known as the “Headwaters State,” with four major U.S. rivers—the Colorado, Rio Grande, Arkansas and South Platte—beginning in the Colorado mountains as snow and snowmelt and providing water resources for 18 states and Mexico. Professor Hillary Hamann (pictured


3 Physics of Smartphone Sensors because of their state-of-the-art sensors. These embedded sensors allow the phone to gauge where you are, which direction you face, how bright the light is and even the air pressure and electromagnetic field around you. Practically, you are carrying a multi-functional mobile lab in your pocket, says Xin Fan, professor of physics and astronomy. In this course, students take a closer look at these different sensors, learning underlying principles and their limits. Building upon activities like mapping electric wires behind walls and tracing airflows in a room, students also design out their thumbs, stowed away and headed west. Themes of adventure and exploration dominate the early cultural history of our country and remain central to American literature, art, film, music and advertising. In this course, students explore the place of the road trip in American culture by interrogating the complicated history of travel in this country, starting with that first, unruly road trip that was westward expansion. Professor Russell Brakefield educates students on the impact of the road trip through 20th century art and popular culture while helping them think about how their own personal journeys have shaped their identities as they begin their first leg of a new adventure at the University of Denver. 5 Art and Observation in Healthcare Art is everywhere, even in health Smartphones gradually integrated into our lives not only because they are a mobile computer, but also their own iPhone or Android apps. 4 The American Road Trip For as long as there have been roads to travel in this country, people have hit the pavement, stuck

contemporary art, videos, photography and everyday interactions by visiting museums and creating their own art. 6 [Im]migrant Stories: Theirs & Ours This course explores the different ways in which individuals displaced by emigration and exile have chosen to tell their stories. Professor Lydia Keff helps students analyze the impact of social, political, economic and cultural factors on the writer’s self-definition as “hyphenated beings” and how these autobiographical texts fit within the broader frame of U.S. literature. For the final project, students explore their own stories of displacement (ancestral, familiar, individual or collective) in the form of a literary essay, short memoir, collection of poems, digital story, performed monologue or documentary film. 7 You Are What You Eat: A Course in Food Chemistry Professor Michelle Knowles covers how food goes from the farm to the table and the chemistry that occurs during food processing and cooking. As a community, students design, discuss and perform experiments where we can observe the physical and chemical transitions that occur when preparing food. Students work as teams to test kitchen hypotheses so that we can solve mysteries like “Why do avocados brown?” and “Why should I care about the Maillard reaction and the formation of 2-acetylpyrroline?”

care, and being observant is a must for understanding art and treating a person. In today’s healthcare scene, it is imperative for all providers—from nurses to physicians to dentists—to effectively communicate and connect with patients. This means learning how to read body language, discerning the difference between description and inter pretation and being open to identifying one’s own biases and perceptions of cultural, ethnicity, age and gender contexts. In this course, Professor Barbekka Hurtt helps students focus on developing observational skills through the appreciation of fine and



DU research lab helps solve Colorado’s most pressing problems By Janette Ballard

and inform policy and budget decisions—resulting in out comes that improve the lives of Coloradans while saving the state money. In 2021, for example, the lab started working with the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program (pre viously in the Colorado Department of Human Services, now in the Colorado Department of Early Childhood), which helps parents and other caregivers support the social emotional development and mental well-being of children up to age six. “[The program] has been around for 15 years, and it was kind of ‘let a thousand flowers bloom,’ where everybody across the state was doing their own thing,” Klopfenstein says. The state was looking to standardize the program and provide more supportive training to caregivers when the lab was hired three years ago. Contractors working with the state dispatch early childhood mental health consultants into childcare settings to help the adults better support the kids, many of whom have been exposed to trauma. “The whole idea is to prevent early childhood suspensions and expulsions, which is a pretty big issue in preschools,” she says. “It’s not about fixing kids, it’s about helping adults support those kids better and meet them where they’re at.” Klopfenstein, who has a PhD in economics, thinks about research from both an effectiveness and efficiency viewpoint. “Effectiveness is about—do our programs succeed in achieving the desired results? Are these programs doing what they were designed to do? So that’s one question,” she says. “But the other question is: If they are effective, are they being efficient? Are they achieving their goals with the least resources possible? We want effective programs that make a difference in the lives of Coloradans that also accomplish their goals as efficiently as possible.” Although the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab was conceived under Gov. Hickenlooper’s administration and continues under Gov. Jared Polis, Klopfenstein and her team have built relationships up and down the system to maintain as much continuity as possible for the next administration, and the next. “There’s a lot of career professionals who stay on across administrations,” Klopfenstein says. “It only helps us when those folks … know the quality of our work, trust us and vouch for us with new leadership.” The key ingredient to a strong working partnership, she adds, is a trusting relationship. “When people ask you to come in and evaluate their programs, they’re really laying themselves open to criticism and judgment. They’re really taking a risk, and so it’s very important that they trust you.”

When state agencies across Colorado have important policy and budgetary decisions to make, they often turn to DU’s Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, also known as the Colorado Lab, to help guide and inform those decisions. Launched in 2017 in partnership with former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, the Colorado Lab is a first-of-its-kind government-research partnership, giving state agencies direct access to the research community. Modeled after other “policy labs” in regions across the country, the Colorado Lab works to not only integrate eval uation into policymaking but also make state government more effective and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. As Director Kristin Klopfenstein explains, experienced researchers work with a broad range of government and community partners to address the state’s most pressing problems in areas like child welfare, criminal justice, education and health care by evaluating the effectiveness of existing programs. “We do work that is driven by the governor’s priorities,” says Klopfenstein. “Our government partners, when they come to us, have a clear, actionable use for it.” The lab is pre-screened to contract for projects under a million dollars, meaning it doesn’t have to go through a formal bidding process. However, that doesn’t mean the lab is given special consideration, says Klopfenstein. State partners work with the lab voluntarily. “Work comes to us primarily through word of mouth— because of our responsive relationships and high-quality work focused on actionability,” she says. “We prioritize work that informs actual decisions rather than getting placed on a shelf.” Colorado is committed to evidence-based policymaking and uses a model called the Colorado Steps to Building Evi dence when considering budget requests. The Colorado Lab has adopted the same five-step model to help guide their research and conversations with government partners. It’s important that the researchers understand their partners’ goals around evidence building, because those goals will require a different kind of response and support from the lab. One thing the lab will not do is make recom mendations on whether a program should be kept or cut. “We can report to our partners about what we’re observing in the data, but it’s up to them what they do with that information and whether they want to recommend doubling down on it and beefing it up or expanding or cutting,” says Klopfenstein. Ultimately, the goal of evidence-based policymaking is to use the best available research and information to guide



Local jazz clubs hand DU students and alumni the mic ARTS By Connor Mokrzycki

professors Annie Booth, Marion Powers and Bijoux Barbosa alongside alumna Camilla Vaitaitis (BM ’16), explored Brazilian jazz throughout their multi-show run. The Jack Dunlevie Trio, including Jack Dunlevie (BM ’15) and Hunter Roberts (BM ’15), spent their month-long series of shows exploring the music of countless jazz guitar icons. And throughout their two-month run, the Wil Swindler and Friends Quintet hosted assistant professor Remy Le Boeuf and Lamont graduate student Adam Gang as guest performers.

Jazz has been a constant throughout Denver’s storied history. The music scene that originated in the Five Points neighborhood in the 1920s drew some of the biggest names in jazz—Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, among many others—to the Mile High City. But it wasn’t all big-name performers. Denver’s home grown jazz musicians—including countless DU students, alumni and faculty—have always played a critical role in keeping the scene alive and thriving. And today, local venues like Nocturne and Dazzle are the best places to find members of the DU community on stage. An old-school night out at Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club Owned and operated by alumna Nicole Mattson (BSBA ’02, MBA ’12), an adjunct professor in the Daniels College of Business, and her husband Scott, Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club (pictured right) has paired next-level eats and classic

For more information on food and drink options and when to catch DU performers, visit

Honoring Denver’s musical legacy at Dazzle Founded in 1997, one of Denver’s most famous jazz venues, Dazzle, remains a pillar of Denver’s jazz community, despite several moves. The club’s original location, a compact concert space on Lincoln Street, hosted national and local acts for nearly two decades before moving to the historic Baur’s building in downtown Denver, and in August 2023, settling into its new home in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Dazzle’s menu of shareable plates and Colorado sourced seasonal libations, including sophisticated non alcoholic cocktails, makes for the perfect pairing with a night of spectacular jazz. And if you happen to catch a Sunday morning show, the special brunch menu is a must. In October, Dazzle honored DU alumnus and legendary classical and jazz bassist Charles Burrell (BME ’65) on his 103rd birthday. A portrait of Burrell, titled “The Bassist,” hangs on the wall in recognition of his contributions to music and the arts in Colorado. Paying homage to Denver’s long history of jazz music in LoDo, Dazzle houses El Chapultepec Piano Lounge, honoring the famed but now-closed club and providing a new space for cover-free late-night performances for “El Pec’s” regulars. From monthly performances by bass player and former Lamont faculty member Ken Walker to an annual run of Charlie Brown Christmas performed by the Annie Booth Trio, DU’s talented musicians are commonplace on Dazzle’s stages.

cocktails—some of which pre-date the origins of Denver’s jazz scene— with performances from Colorado’s finest jazz musicians since 2015. Tucked in the corner of 27th and Larimer—in the heart of RiNo Art District—evenings at Nocturne harken back to an earlier era of Denver’s musical history. With a three-course tasting menu, small plates or the opulent five-course “Ellington Experience” to choose from, guests are given a classic

Remy Le Boeuf

supper club experience with a side of jazz. And the music is just as good as the food. With shows five nights a week, Nocturne’s intimate venue hosts per formers for four to eight weeks, giving them a chance to explore the music of a favorite icon, dive deep into a specific jazz genre or showcase their own work. With a focus on local musicians, DU’s vast community of musicians are regulars on stage and in the crowd. “There are a lot of people who have come through Lamont [School of Music] that are mentors for those that end up on our stage,” Mattson says. “And there are a lot of people who have connections and have been through the DU program that are our guests. We love being able to serve them, meet them and make that connection through a cocktail and some great music.” Numerous bands with DU ties took the stage at Nocturne in recent months. Passiflora, featuring Lamont adjunct

Dazzle’s schedule and menu can be found at

Photos by Wayne Armstrong



Long-time Burns School professor gifts endowed professorship GIVING BACK By Connor Mokrzycki

In 2006, Mueller once again returned to his alma mater as a full professor, where he has remained ever since. Mueller has published more than 100 articles on real estate investment strategies and capital markets. Best known for his quarterly real estate market cycle reports, Mueller has lectured at hundreds of industry events and more than 40 universities around the globe. In retirement, Mueller plans to continue conducting and presenting research on real estate market cycles and working on affordable housing development. He also plans to pursue his 60-year passion for skiing—on snow and on water—continuing to volunteer as a host and tour guide at Arapahoe Basin in the winters and taking to the lakes in the summers. Mueller has water skied competitively for 40 years. In 2019, he won the New Hampshire state championship, took second at New England regionals and placed ninth at the waterski nationals. Throughout his years in academia and industry, Mueller put his expertise to use for the public good, chairing industry research committees, holding leadership roles in academic organizations, sitting on four church building committees, working on 13 Habitat for Humanity projects with his sons and, most recently, joining the board of Sharing Connexion, an organization that lends its real estate expertise to afford able housing organizations and nonprofits. As he transitions out of his teaching role at DU, Mueller sees his gift as a way of giving back to the community that played a major role in his life. “The University has been good to me. It’s my alma mater, and I love it,” Mueller says. “I practice what I teach. And part of that is giving back. So many of my good friends are former students.” Mueller’s gift provides significant funds for the Burns School to hire an associate professor, who will hold the Glenn Mueller Endowed Professorship. This not only secures a new faculty member’s position at the University but enables the school to attract another nationally re nowned scholar and teacher, says Vivek Sah, director of the Burns School. Mueller’s years teaching and researching at DU have left their mark on campus and beyond. “His contributions as a scholar and professor, and his impact on students at the University and the real estate community locally and nationally, have been immense. He has contributed significantly to the real estate discipline and advanced the discipline as much as anyone could,” Sah says. “He carries our flame—our torch—wherever he goes.”

“Students often ask, ‘What should I do for a living?’ My answer is God gives us all very different gifts. Figure out your gift, do it for a living, and it doesn’t feel like work,” says alumnus Glenn Mueller (BSBA ’74), professor in the Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management. For Mueller, that gift was understanding the complexities of real estate markets and investing and making them easy for others to understand. Announcing his retirement after more than two decades of service to DU, the internationally recognized scholar is gifting the University $1 million to endow a named professorship in the Burns School. First as a student, then as an alumnus, professor, DU husband and DU dad, Mueller has deep ties to the DU community. His wife Jan (MA ’91) and their sons Graham (BSBA ’07) and Andrew (MS ’08) are all DU alumni. “Now Andrew is a professor here,” Mueller says. But before his time as a professor, Mueller walked the halls as an undergraduate student. Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Mueller has been passionate about skiing from a young age and when it came time to apply to colleges, he says, DU’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains made it all the more attractive. But when he visited campus, his mind was made up. “I fell in love, applied, got in and started at DU on my 18th birthday,” he says. While making weekly trips to the mountains as a member of the Alpine Club, Mueller pursued a degree in finance and was introduced to the world of real estate by Mike Crean, emeritus professor in the Burns School. After graduating in 1974, Mueller moved to Boston where he met his wife and earned an MBA from Babson College before moving back to Denver to work as a bank loan analyst. While looking for a house in the Mile High City, Mueller knew just who to ask. “I called up my former professor, Mike Crean. We ended up building houses next to each other, right over on York Street,” he says. The pair became not only neighbors but also lifelong friends and golf partners. After another move back East to work as a developer and builder, Mueller returned to the University to teach as an adjunct professor in 1984—per Crean’s recommendation. Mueller fell in love with teaching, prompting him to earn a PhD from Georgia State in 1986. He returned to teaching at DU until 1990, when he dove into research in the institutional real estate investing world, while also teaching at Johns Hopkins University and then Colorado State University. Handling two jobs for more than 30 years, Mueller says, “Industry work made me more relevant in the classroom.”



Photo by Wayne Armstrong

New releases reveal creative breadth in word and song RELEASES

The Animals of My Earth School Mildred Kiconco Barya (PhD ’16) This collection of fable like poems asks readers to consider the complexities of our existence, ranging from the human realm to the humble ladybug. By playing with the threads that weave together our shared experiences, Barya

partnerships and strategic thinking, “Laboring for Jus tice” emphasizes the need for resistance and resilience in order to cultivate compassionate change.

Democracy in a Hotter Time: Climate Change and Democratic Transformation Edited by David W. Orr, featuring Frederick Mayer, Dean of Josef Korbel School of International Studies Calling itself “the first major book to deal with the dual crises of democracy and climate

explores how beautiful and cruel life on Earth can be and asks readers to pay mind to the non-human beings that surround us. Born in Uganda, Barya earned her doctorate in English at the University of Denver before moving to North Carolina, where she teaches creative writing and literature at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Her prose and poems have been featured in a variety of literary publications, and her essay, “Being Here in This Body,” received the 2020 Linda Flowers Literary Award.

change as one interrelated threat to the human future,” “Democracy in a Hotter Time” contains essays from academic and environmental heavy hitters like David W. Orr (editor), Bill McKibben and Fritz Mayer, dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and author of Chapter 7, “Could a Global Climate Revolution Save the Planet (and Democracy)?”

Laboring for Justice: The Fight Against Wage Theft in an American City Rebecca Berke Galemba, Associate Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies Galemba’s anthro pological study of wage theft in America magnifies the challenges faced by immigrant day laborers in Denver, where its

Orange-Collar Labor: Work and Inequality in Prison Michael Gibson-Light, Assistant Professor,

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Awarded the 2023 Distinguished Scholarly Book Award by the American Sociological Association, “Orange

purple political status has created both welcoming and challenging labor laws for immigrant workers. Drawing upon seven years of research that earned recognition for how she engaged with the local community, Galemba is solutions-focused, documenting the way workers respond to systemic inequality through policy, law and direct action. Advocating for social justice, community

Collar Labor” represents findings following 18 months of ethnographic observations and 80 interviews with incarcerated men and staff members to document and define a distinctive labor class in the United States. Gibson-Light argues that “by illustrating moments


genres like an impressionist masterpiece. Her latest album features an 11-piece ensemble that fuses together jazz, chamber music and art song (a Western vocal musical genre that relies on a poem or singular text). “Flowers of Evil” is based off the work of 19th century poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire, whose French poetry is known for its dark observations of life. Booth recently headlined at the 2023 Telluride Jazz Festival and the 2023 Five Points Jazz Festival and completed a 15-show residency at Dazzle Jazz Club (see pg. 12 for more on DU’s connections with Denver’s jazz clubs).

of struggle and suffering, as well as perseverance, cooperation, and sometimes playfulness in their accounts, this book seeks to pay tribute to the enduring humanity of these orange-collar laborers so often obscured from public and scholarly view.”

Rouge Mona Awad (PhD ’18) The alumna who

brought us the beguiling “Bunny” presents another immersive tale. Satirically brooding, “Rouge” takes readers on a spellbinding journey through the sinister side of beauty in a novel described as a “Grimm Brothers fairy tale for the modern age.” “Rouge” is

One Shot for Gold: Developing a Modern Mine in Northern California Eleanor H. Swent (MA ’47) Awarded the 2023 Clark Spence award by the Mining History Association, Swent uses oral histories she recorded with miners, planners, school superintendents, merchants, ranchers

a haunting exploration of relationships and wellness culture that walks in the footsteps of its protagonist’s harrowing journey as she enters the demonic depths of a cultish spa following her estranged mother’s mysterious death. “Rouge” has earned esteem as a national bestseller and a USA TODAY bestseller, as well as a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Shrouded in symbolism and written with a surreal, storybook cadence, Awad dares readers to look beyond the surface of human desire and wonder what price is too high to pay in pursuit of youth and beauty.

and even vocal mine opponents to tell the story of California’s most productive gold mine during the 20th century. Later used as a model for reclamation practices, McLaughlin Mine produced 3.4 million ounces of gold from 1985 to 2002. Originally from a mining community in Lead, South Dakota, Swent’s studies at the University of Denver were instrumental in her development as a writer. While working as a teaching assistant for a remedial English class in the 1940s, Swent was in a writing workshop of Alan Swallow (former DU professor, editor of the University of Denver Press and founder of DU’s creative writing program), where, she recalls, “There was a vibe of creativity and enthusiasm for the West.”

Flowers of Evil Annie Booth,

Adjunct Faculty, Lamont School of Music Award-winning composer,

arranger and pianist Annie

Booth isn’t afraid to blend musical


96 individual National champions

24 National Championships, the most of any NCAA ski team


DU Skiing Retrospective Global heritage and unrelenting drive weave through team’s success


T he alpine ski run at Kitzbühel in Tyrol, Austria, had almost completely iced over when Otto Tschudi (BSBA ’75) stepped up to the gate for his best professional race ever. He was competing on the 1969 FIS (International Ski Federation) World Cup circuit for Norway and was wearing bib No. 48, putting 47 skiers in front of him in an era without artificial snowmaking. “In those days, with a late start number, there were a lot of bumps and holes on the way down,” Tschudi says with a laugh. “Everybody else had already gone to the bar, and they thought the race was over. But it wasn’t.” Tschudi placed 10th, his best World Cup result. While he was celebrating in the sparse finishing area, an unfa miliar man approached Tschudi and asked him a simple question in German: “Haben see auf die shuhle gedacht?” Translated: “Have you thought about school?” That man was legendary University of Denver ski coach Willy Schaeffler, at the time nearing the end of his 22-year run leading the ski program—plus an eight-year stint as the men’s soccer coach—but still at the height of his work with the U.S. National Ski Team. Tschudi initially brushed him off. “’No, no, next weekend I’m on that podium,” Tschudi recalls telling Schaeffler while motioning to the nearby raised platform, the pinnacle of World Cup racing. “School? No interest.” But Schaeffler had been sent by Jon Terje Överland, a former DU alpine skier and someone who had also competed for Norway alongside

Tschudi at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. The persistent coach leveraged that connection into a 20-minute conversation, which led the skier to ask: “So, where is Denver?” “The deal he gave me was that you ski three (collegiate) races a year, and you can keep skiing the World Cup if you keep your grades up,” Tschudi says. “So, I took the deal, and it ended up working out very well for me.” Tschudi took a ship from Europe to New York, then a Greyhound bus to Denver. He traveled across gently rising plains and arrived in the city on a cloudy day, one that obscured the mountains, and initially thought himself the victim of an elaborate prank. But after confirming there were indeed gorgeous, snow-covered slopes just a few miles west of Denver, he quickly fell in love with the campus, skiing opportunities and camaraderie that came with collegiate competition. He joined a diverse group of competi tors, many of whom were Europeans— for once pulling in the same direction. Tschudi continued to shine on the sport’s largest stages, including another trip to the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, where he vied with five other current and former DU skiers for international glory. Prior to graduating in 1975 with a B.S. in hotel and restaurant management and international business, he became the most decorated skier in DU history, winning five individual collegiate national titles, including a program-best three top finishes in the 1971 championships.

Top to bottom row; left to right RECRUIT. Ski team member (1970–1972) and current Board of Trust ee member Otto Tschudi (BSBA ’75). SWAG. Men’s ski team members depart to South America on Braniff Airways between 1955–1956. Pictured (l–r): Will Olson (BSBA ’56), Dave Shaw (BSBA ’57), coach Willy Schaeffler, Henning Arstal, John Cress (BA ’56) and Tom Carter (BA ’59). SLOPESIDE. The team trains with Coach Willy Schaeffler, 1955. RECOVERY. Ski team member Henning Arstal cools off in a refrigera tor next to Coach Willy Schaeffler. THE FIRST. In 1946, alpine skier Barbara Kidder (BA ’48) became the first skier, male or female, to win a national collegiate championship at DU. She was inducted into the University of Denver Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996. DARTMOUTH OR BUST. The Pioneers men’s ski team en route to the 36th annual Dartmouth Winter Carnival. Pictured (l–r): team captain Art Kidder, Jr., Ross Davis (BSBA ’48), Jim Patterson, Coach Gordon Wren, Ralph Ball (JD ’48) and Jerry Hiatt. I CAN FLY. Men’s ski jumper, 1975–1980. Credit: Richard W. Purdie.


DU’s international draw

Basin, where he worked as a ski instructor before joining DU and kicking off 22 years of success. Peder Pytte would coach the Pioneers to one more team title in 1971, after which DU fell into a 29-year title drought, which included the program being shuttered between 1983 and 1993 for financial reasons. The title drought didn’t keep DU skiers away from the national stage, however. One of the most well-known was Suzanne Chaffee, who attended DU alongside her brother Rick Chaffee, a three-time individual champion from ’65-’68. Better known as “Suzy Chapstick” thanks to her long running ad campaign for the lip balm manufacturer, Chaffee was a three time world freestyle champion and competed at the 1968 Olympics, while also serving as captain of the women’s team. In an interview with Powder Magazine, Chaffee recalled having to hitchhike from the DU campus to Evergreen for practice because female NCAA athletes at the time were not insured. After DU, she became a prominent part of ski culture, with high-profile sponsorships and as the founder of ski ballet, which became popular in the 70s and 80s and an official FIS and Olympic sport in 2000.

it’s fun to see the flair from Norway, Germany, Sweden, Australia. Bringing that hodge-podge together is great, seeing what we all bring to the table. At the end of the day, we’re here at the University, and we’re all in it together as Pioneers.” A storied history DU’s success dates to the birth of modern, post-WWII skiing in Colo rado, when Coach Schaeffler led the Pioneers to victory at the first-ever NCAA Skiing Championship in 1954. DU would go on to win the next four national championships, finish second in the next three, then secure all but one team title between 1961 and 1970, when Schaeffler stepped down. Schaeffler’s background as a veteran seeped into his coaching and legacy. Tschudi recalls military inspired conditioning drills—but perhaps more memorable, he says, was Schaeffler’s advocacy for disabled skiers, including helping establish what is now the state’s largest adaptive ski program at Winter Park Resort. Schaeffler had been injured during his World War II service. Growing up in Germany, he was drafted into the army and sent to the Soviet front, where he was injured, captured and tortured. He eventually escaped to Austria and joined an anti-Nazi resistance that formed in the Alps. By the end of the war, Schaeffler was noted for teaching General George Patton and other U.S. military officials how to ski and rock climb. In 1948, he made his way to the U.S. and Colorado ski resort Arapahoe

Tschudi’s journey is only one of many global voyages that have led to the DU ski program. Throughout its history, the program has sought out the most skilled and ambitious skiers from across the U.S. and the world. The current alpine and Nordic men’s and women’s ski teams include nine student-athletes from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and 15 student-athletes from Australia, Canada, Czechia, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The reasons for coming to DU are as varied as the skiers’ hometowns and countries. German alpine skier Nora Brand, Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame’s 2023 Collegiate Athlete of the Year, came to America because it was an opportunity to combine her academic and athletic ambitions. “There’s no other place where you have this system of college sports,” she says. “We simply don’t have that in other parts of the world, and that’s a big reason a lot of us come over.” The international draw extends to the current coaching staff. Alpine head coach Joonas Rasanen, who skied collegiately at the University of New Mexico—and was crowned slalom national champion in 2013—hails from Kauniainen, Finland, where he competed professionally on the FIS World Cup and Europa Cup circuits from 2015 to 2019. He says part of leading a diverse group of athletes is understanding the challenges of their academic and athletic goals. “I did what they’re doing as a stu dent-athlete back in the day,” Rasanen says, “But from a coaching perspective,

Top to bottom row; left to right

CUTTING CORNERS. Senior Nora Brand from Munich, Germany, whips around a gate. Brand was DU’s 2022–23 Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award winner. AIRTIME. Skier jumps off a ramp, 1998. SKI BALLET. Freestyle skier wearing #111 at the National Amateur Freestyle Championships, 1978. TELLING TIME. Ski coach Peder Pytte (1970–1975) looks down at his stopwatch. LIVE TO SKI. DU student’s car, 1974. YOUNGER THAN THE MOUN TAINS. Pioneers ski team on the DU campus, 1984. BUMPY RIDE. Ski team member rounds a gate in a slalom event, 1965–1975.


Colorado (6) Utah (1) Wyoming (1) Norway (8)

Germany (2) Australia (1) Canada (2) Czechia (1)

Finland (1) Sweden (1)


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