Valued at $40 million, the gift of The Wildlife Experience facility in Douglas County from Dave and Gail Liniger and their family to CU was announced Sept. 11 at the Board of Regents meeting at the University Memorial Center on the CU-Boulder campus. In recognition of the Linigers’ generosity, the board voted to approve naming the facility the Liniger Building at the University of Colorado South Denver.
Dave Liniger is the chairman emeritus of The Wildlife Experience and co-founder of REMAX International Inc.
The Liniger gift builds on the collaboration that began in April when the Linigers teamed with CU, converting 11,000-square-feet of the 151,000-square-foot facility to classroom and lab space. CU began offering classes there in August, while the popular Douglas County wildlife art and natural history museum continued most of its museum services to the community.CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. CU-Boulder and UCCS are expected to add programs in the future. CU Denver will manage the facility on behalf of the system.
“Dave and Gail Liniger have demonstrated a vision and commitment to serving our community and state that will have a substantial impact for decades to come,” said CU President Bruce D. Benson. “We value the confidence they have in CU and appreciate their transformational gift. The Wildlife Experience has been a cultural touchstone in south Denver and adding higher education will build on its commitment to the community.”
The Wildlife Experience was founded in 2002 and is designed to serve as a cultural and educational center and a community asset for south Denver. The facility hosts exhibits in fine art, natural history and interactive science each year and provides space for private and community events.
“Gail and I are making this gift to CU to provide more services and more value to our south Denver community,” Liniger said. “The museum remains open, events will be held, and the public spaces will be available for rental. The added value now is the easy access to a quality CU education right here in south Denver.”
“The initial course offerings demonstrate the wide range of educational opportunities CU is bringing to south Denver,” said University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor Don Elliman. “CU Denver is proud to be managing this initiative on behalf of the CU system, and we look forward to adding even more options for students with classes and faculty from the CU Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses.”
Lisa Douglas, Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance at the
University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, has been named vice chancellor of the new facility.
Before entering into the initial collaboration with The Wildlife Experience, CU conducted a market study and interviewed leaders from south Denver’s major employers and professional organizations. The study identified gaps in educational offerings in the south Denver area, which accounts for one-third of the population of metro Denver and is home to a variety of engineering, finance and health-care related companies.
After voting at last week’s meeting, members of the Board of Regents voiced their gratitude and excitement about the gift.
“That the Linigers would do this is just beyond amazing,” said Regent Stephen Ludwig. “Their gift, in one of the fastest growing areas of the state, is going to facilitate how we make lives better. This is an amazing thing – a historic opportunity for us.”
Benson said the vision of Dave Liniger, informed by a career in real estate, is vital in acknowledging the growth potential of the south metro area and its accompanying need for education.
“I just want to say thank you to (the Linigers) – you are really our heroes,” Benson said. “I can’t tell you horw much we appreciate this.”
Elliman said he hopes that the board and university leadership will soon have the opportunity to express their thanks personally to the Linigers, who were unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.
For more information on the initiative, please visit CUSouthDenver.org.