In September 1965, classes for the new University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Center were announced. The new program was, “…a continuation on a larger scale of the earlier extension service program that the Colorado University has run in this city for some years.” The university campus was located in the former Cragmor Sanatorium. Contemporary photographs retrofitted patient rooms as faculty offices, lounges and dining areas into classrooms, and at least one operating room turned lecture hall. Today, the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs is a research university of over 12,000 students.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

In 1952, the University of Colorado established an extension center in Colorado Springs, administered from its campus in Boulder. Classes were held in Palmer High School and at Colorado College. By 1962 David Packard, a Pueblo native and co-founder of the technology firm Hewlett-Packard, was looking for a new site for an oscilloscope research and manufacturing plant. He liked the Colorado Springs location; it fit most of his criteria except for the lack of a nearby university with an engineering program. Given his industrial clout and local familiarity, he met Governor Stephen McNichols about the need for a local university. Governor McNichols offered to establish a branch of the University of Colorado, and in June of 1964, the University of Colorado Regents officially established The Colorado Springs Center of the University of Colorado. Governor John Love, a Colorado Springs native, then worked with George Dwire, the Managing Director of the Cragmor tuberculosis sanatorium that had closed in 1962 about the possibility of converting the site on Austin Bluffs into the new campus. Negotiations were successful for 82.5 acres with all structures and equipment, for which the University of Colorado gained title in 1965 when it paid one dollar. The property consisted of the four-story sanatorium, a three-story nursing home, a two-story dormitory, and several cottages and workshops, all in poor condition. When classes started in the fall of 1965, there were still hospital beds and equipment on floors of the main building, and the center had to borrow desks from School District Eleven. The Geography lab occupied the old morgue, with medical equipment and supplies in the storage room adjacent. In addition to these challenges, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) resisted the creation of a new campus. The CCHE saw no need for another four-year university, believing that CU Boulder and Colorado State were sufficient. Local leaders advocated strongly for the new campus, so that in 1971 the CCHE finally passed a resolution in support. A 1972 ballot initiative amended the state constitution to recognize that the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Denver are parts of the University of Colorado. In 1974 the Cragmor campus officially adopted the title University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). The university has grown to become a comprehensive baccalaureate and specialized graduate research university with over 12,000 students on 535 acres, offering 50 undergraduate, 24 masters, and seven doctoral degrees.

Generously Submitted by Dr. John Harner, Professor of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

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