When was the last time you stepped foot onto a college or university campus? Maybe while still in school? Perhaps when delivering one of your kids for freshman year? Were you reminded of just how gorgeous such campuses are, with the lush, green common areas, expansive views, beautiful architecture and state-of-the-art facilities?
Colorado’s institutions of higher learning have much to offer meeting and event professionals who need great venues to hold annual meetings, fundraisers, conferences, team-building and more. We’ll take a closer look at five and offer suggestions for others to check out.
University of Denver
“The University of Denver enjoys a strong reputation in the community as a place to host high-profile events, such as the 2012 presidential debate, the Mayor’s Sustainability & Housing Summits and The Denver Post Spelling Bee,” says Mary Kay Mauro, manager of client services, University of Denver Conference & Event Services. “In addition, our venues are wellsuited for corporate events such as real estate meetings, team-building, annual conferences and fundraisers, to name a few.”
DU offers a wide variety of spaces that can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 1,300, including more than 50 classrooms, a worldclass performing arts center, a sports and wellness facility, a historic chapel and abundant lawn spaces. “Groups have the opportunity to explore some of the most breathtaking open spaces and walking paths, all in a focused learning environment,” Mauro says.
“From a price standpoint, we are more affordable than a hotel, but we can provide comparable services,” says Maria Mata, manager of summer conference programs, University of Denver Conference & Event Services. “I have also heard from clients that they like the unique environment of a university campus as compared to a generic hotel meeting room.”
One of those clients is iD Tech, a national organization that runs summer events for aspiring young programmers, app developers, video game designers, engineers, filmmakers, photographers, etc. Jessee Lovaas, regional manager with iD Tech, says, “DU is a perfect mix of rural and city and has a beautiful campus. The dorms are among the best I’ve ever seen at a university, and our relationship with DU just makes this camp very special. We’ve been on DU’s campus for 16 years now.”
Metropolitan State University of Denver
MSU Denver, located in downtown Denver on the Auraria campus, offers a distinct hotel/ learning lab opportunity in addition to its menu of general campus venues. In a public/ private partnership, the university and Sage Hospitality operate a state-of-the-art complex called the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, composed of SpringHill Suites by Marriott, learning labs, classrooms and a conference center. The combination serves both university students enrolled in hospitality industry programs and business professionals seeking great meeting and event facilities.
“At SpringHill Suites, students are gaining real-world experience training alongside seasoned hoteliers. This unique complex is one of only 11 in the country, and any profits revert back to the university for the benefit of the students,” says Carol Krugman, Med, CMP, CMM, chair of MSU Denver’s Department of Hospitality, Tourism & Events.
There are also a number of meeting and event venues as part of the Auraria Higher Education Center, shared by MSU Denver, University of Colorado Denver and Community College of Denver. Venues include the Tivoli Student Union, Golda Meir House Conference Room, Science Building Conference Room, St. Cajetan’s Church, Event Center and outdoor event areas.
University of Colorado Boulder
“CU Conference Services accommodates over 150 conference programs annually, ranging in size from 50 to 5,000 attendees,” shares Director Dan Dykstra.
Available spaces are divided into distinct categories: residential, academic classrooms and event centers. Venues include University Memorial Center, Macky Auditorium, Fiske Planetarium, Coors Event Center and Folsom Field.
The University of Colorado Boulder campus hosts a variety of groups such as the Geological Sciences Workshop, Graduate School of Banking at Colorado and Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology Conference. Services include professional conference management, financial management, registration services and logistics coordination. “Clients who have utilized our One-StopShop certified services and facilities include educational nonprofit conferences and events, professional academic workshops and symposia, youth leadership, sports camps and educational enrichment programs,” he says.
“Boulder is a perfect blend of urban sophistication and outdoor recreation,” Dykstra emphasizes. “Guests enjoy experiencing a community of environmentally and socially conscious residents who call this one-of-akind place home.”
Colorado State University – Fort Collins
“We offer almost 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space within our recently expanded student center,” says Dezarai Brubaker, director of conference and event services for Colorado State University, “including a 500-seat theater and 1,500-seat ballroom. We have a plethora of classrooms, learning labs, event centers and unique spaces to offer clients. During the summer we can provide up to 6,000 beds on campus as well, with a wide variety of styles and price points to choose from.”
The campus is only 1 square mile in a contained area. “It is its own little village. Some groups that meet here never leave campus because there is so much to do here, but for those that do, they are pleasantly surprised with the array of offerings,” she says. “The Fort Collins Old Town area is amazing, with a variety of farm-to-table restaurants and robust night life that is only a five-minute walk from our campus. Our city is now called the Napa Valley of Beer, with over 20 craft breweries distributed throughout our bikefriendly city.”
Joi-Lin Russel, an event planner for the Colorado Education Association, has successfully held a gathering at CSU. “My group received grant money to conduct a joint Wyoming-Colorado training. CSU was perfectly situated for us with Fort Collins being right along I-25. Durrell Center and Alpine Village worked beautifully to provide us with meeting rooms, amazing cafeterias and efficient dorm rooms for lodging, all in a neat corner of campus. Our summer training also made scheduling convenient during the summer semester,” she explains. “Durrell Center in particular has lots of cozy nooks for small group conversations, which was nice.”
University of Northern Colorado – Greeley
University of Northern Colorado offers traditional meeting spaces in the University Center, which features Rocky Mountain Grand Ballroom and Panorama room, says Leah Howard, assistant director of conference services. “In addition to the University Center, classrooms, lawn spaces and athletic facilities are available for rental. We can accommodate a variety of group sizes up to 2,500. We also provide housing space during the summer months.”
Howard says UNC has hosted business meetings, corporate trainings, employment fairs, fundraisers, galas, religious and academic conferences, and a variety of youth camps.
“UNC is a great place to meet because we are a smaller campus with big-campus amenities,” she says. “We pride ourselves on our customer service and work to make each event and conference unique to each client. Greeley itself is a destination with historic architecture, public art and a blend of performance venues, galleries and entertainment.”
Colorado is home to dozens of colleges and universities offering plenty of contemporary and inviting facilities and cost-effective options for a wide variety of corporate, nonprofit and association meetings and events.
>> Additional Places to Meet on Campus
WESTERN STATE COLORADO UNIVERSITY Gunnison || 970.943.2189
COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY Grand Junction || 970.248.1746
COLORADO COLLEGE Colorado Springs || 719.389.6012
FORT LEWIS COLLEGE Durango || 970.247.7220
COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES Golden || 303.273.3353