History of UCCS

Campus History

The campus history begins with the creation of Cragmor Sanatorium, which is now Main Hall.  In 1902, William Jackson Palmer donated funds to build a sanatorium (a place for treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy for the chronically ill).  The Cragmor Sanatorium opened in 1905 and was nicknamed the "Sun Palace" due to its sun-loving architecture.  In the following decades it developed a following among the cultural elite and many of its patients were wealthy.  However, they were hit hard by the Great Depression in the 1930s and Cragmor suffered from financial distress into the 1940s.  It was briefly reinvigorated in the 1950s when a contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs established Cragmor as a treatment center for Navajos with tuberculosis.  About ten years later, the Navajo patients were transferred elsewhere.  While John Love was the Governor of Colorado, Cragmor became the property of the University of Colorado in 1964. (Resource: Cragmor Historic Preservation Effort.)

The University of Colorado's presence in Colorado Springs dates to 1925 when extension courses from the Boulder campus began, a tradition that continued for the next forty years at various downtown locations in the community. By the early 1960s, the University of Colorado extension campus at Colorado Springs consisted of 63 instructors, 190 courses, and more than 1200 students. This core group, as well as community leaders, led the effort for removal of requirements that extension students spend at least two years in residence on the Boulder campus. They argued that the people of southern Colorado should be able to earn a University of Colorado degree in Colorado Springs. Their efforts were boosted by support from local business leaders, including Pueblo-native David Packard, who told state and community leaders that a Hewlett-Packard manufacturing facility in Colorado Springs would be possible only if additional educational offerings, including a College of Engineering, were available in the community for the plant’s employees and their dependents.

In 1964, the Colorado Springs Center of the University of Colorado received a tremendous boost when George T. Dwire offered the university the bankrupt Cragmor Sanatorium building and its surrounding 80 acres northeast of the community for the sum of $1 per year.  The Center had a permanent home, situated on a craggy hill with a panoramic view of the southern Front Range mountains, for its growing following of scholars. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was opened to classes in September 1965.

Because of its ties to Hewlett-Packard, initial university programs focused on engineering and business. Today, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Business serve as pillars of the university and are joined by programs offered in the College of Letters, Arts and Science, the College of Education, The Graduate School of Public Affairs, and the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences. A 1997 community referendum merged Beth-El College of Nursing with UCCS and, in recent years, programs such as the Network Information and Space Security Center were added to connect the university with the military to improve national security. Other programs, including the CU Institute for Bioenergetics and the Institute for Science and Space Studies, cast an eye toward the future.

UCCS now offers 25 bachelors, 17 masters, and 2 doctoral degrees and aims to become the premier comprehensive regional research university in the nation with 10,000 to 12,000 students. In recent years, U.S. News and World Report named UCCS a top Western public university, placing it sixth in its most recent edition. In addition to its academic programs, UCCS fields 14 men's and women's NCAA Division II sports teams and has a full range of student life programming.

From its original 80 acres, UCCS has added 440 additional acres to its holdings along the Austin Bluffs in northeast Colorado Springs. Fully 97 percent of the land was donated as community members recognized the university's potential. Though extensively expanded in 2001-2004 using both state and private funds, Main Hall (1914) and Cragmor Hall (1959) trace their lineage to the Cragmor Sanatorium. The university's first classroom building, Dwire Hall (1972), was named in recognition of George Dwire's $1 sale to the state. The Engineering and Applied Science Building (1985), Science Building (1981), Kramer Family Library (1975), El Pomar Center (2001), Columbine Hall (1997), Campus Services Building (1996), University Parking Garage (2004), Summit Village (1997), and Alpine Village (2004) occupy the original 80-acre Cragmor parcel. The Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities, a planned community and university arts and humanities retreat, resides on the northwestern edge of the campus and honors Larry and Dorothy Heller who donated their home and surrounding land to the campus in 1997. ON the south side of Austin Bluffs Parkway, UCCS operates a Family Development Center (1998) for young children of students, faculty, staff, and community members. Along North Nevada Avenue is the Four Diamonds Sports Complex, which is owned by the university and leased to the City of Colorado Springs Park and Recreation Department. Four Diamonds serves as the home field for the Mountain Lion women's softball team.

In 2001, UCCS purchased an 87,000 square-foot building at the corner of one of the city's busiest intersections, Union Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway, to house the Beth-El College of Nursing and several other programs. The university now effectively controls land between Nevada Ave and Union Boulevard, providing ample room for expansion.

In 2000, the CU Board of Regents designated UCCS as the CU growth campus. In 2003, the Legislature approved revisions in the university's statutory role and mission to remove geographic and program restrictions. In 2005, the Regents approved a seven-year plan that calls for the university to add to its base of 7,650 students (Fall 2004), 347 FTE faculty and 254 FTE staff. The 2006-2012 plan calls for growth to 9,100 students with corresponding increases in faculty, staff, programs, and campus infrastructure.

City of Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, the second largest metropolitan area in the state, has approximately 650,000 residents and is nestled at the base of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains of southern Colorado. The city offers a vibrant cultural life as well as numerous recreational opportunities.

A strong local economy supports amateur sports, technology, and the military. Large private employers include Hewlett-Packard, Agilent, Intel, Atmel Corporation, SCI Systems, Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corporation, Oracle Corporation, and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. The city is home to Fort Carson Army Base, the United States Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base/Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Schriever Air Force Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Air Force Space Command, and U.S. Northern Command. Colorado Springs is also home to the U.S. Olympic Committee and an Olympic Training Center.