Chancellor Horrell leaves her mark in the city

President Kennedy thanks and celebrates CU Denver’s leader since 2016
By Staff

Dorothy Horrell
Dorothy Horrell

CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell on Tuesday officially retired from the university. Under her leadership, the campus evolved from successful to significant; from an urban university to a thriving asset to the city of Denver.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as your chancellor for the past four and a half years. I’m so proud of all that we’ve accomplished together in defining and fulfilling our role as Colorado’s public urban research university,” Horrell wrote in an introduction to her video farewell. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to the CU Denver legacy, one whose momentum I’m confident will build under the capable leadership of Dr. Michelle Marks. I trust that you will extend the same grace, friendship, and willing spirit to her that you have shown me.”

President Mark Kennedy has noted the special affinity he shares with Horrell, both having grown up in small towns (she is the pride of Holyoke, Colorado) and both benefiting from deep involvement with 4-H as youths.

“Dorothy has not only been an exceptional leader of energy and passion at CU Denver, she also has had a remarkable and successful career in many educational endeavors,” Kennedy said.

The president elaborated in an email to the CU Denver community, excerpted here:

One of the most disappointing impacts of COVID-19 is that it doesn’t allow us to celebrate Dorothy’s successes in person, surrounded by her family, friends and colleagues, as she deserves. One of her particular strengths is how she connects personally with people. Yet Dorothy leaves a lasting legacy that is both personal and professional.

When she took the helm of CU Denver nearly five years ago, Chancellor Horrell articulated a dynamic vision to grow the campus and its prominence by focusing on student success, academic excellence, community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and financial sustainability. Under her leadership, CU Denver has cemented its status as a premier urban public research university. Chancellor Horrell breathed new life and meaning into the “CU in the City” slogan, making it synonymous with academic excellence in an urban environment. She transformed the student experience through academics, research, capital construction and programs such as the signature CityCenter facility, built to foster partnerships, share knowledge and develop solutions to some of our most urgent issues. She enhanced fundraising, including enthusiastic faculty and staff giving campaigns that support scholarships and other critical funds. She cultivated a diverse and inclusive culture and community.

While Chancellor Horrell’s many achievements at CU Denver are impressive, I’m most struck by her unwavering belief in the power of education and her dedication to the success of our students. As a fellow first-generation college student from a small, rural community, I, too, have experienced firsthand the transformative power of higher education. Dorothy and I share a deep conviction that equitable access to quality education is a fundamental step in creating a balanced and just society. Like you, I will miss interacting with her, but I celebrate the indelible mark she is leaving on this campus and community.

CU Denver recently took stock of the many honors Horrell has received in recent weeks, and collected images to illustrate her impact on the campus.

As President Kennedy thanked and celebrated Chancellor Horrell, he also welcomed Chancellor Michelle Marks, who officially joined the university on Wednesday. CU Connections next week will feature more on CU Denver’s new leader.