With the largest gift in school history and one of the largest financial donations ever to a public university in Colorado, Western State Colorado University announced this week the establishment of the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering.
Construction of the new school began last week on campus. The new school is made possible by an $80 million gift from Paul M. Rady, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Colorado-based Antero Resources and Antero Midstream. Rady is a 1978 graduate of Western with a bachelor’s degree in geology.
Through a pioneering collaboration between Western and the University of Colorado-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science, students will be able to obtain degrees in computer science, including with emphasis in software engineering, and mechanical engineering as graduates of CU Boulder. With this partnership, these students will have the opportunity to complete their first two years as Western students, with the balance of their education as CU Boulder students — all while remaining on the Western campus in Gunnison.
Graduates in the partnership will receive a Bachelor of Science degree and diploma from the CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science.
“This generous investment from Mr. Rady provides Western with the single greatest transformative opportunity in our history — allowing us to combine our historical strengths with cutting-edge technical education,” said Western President Greg Salsbury.
A high-tech gateway
The planned 75,000-squarefoot building on the south side of campus will offer versatile teaching and lab spaces — including advanced instrumentation rooms, faculty offices and two large theater-style classrooms. It also will include indoor and outdoor spaces designed to promote a collaborative learning environment.
Leaders say the location also will allow the high-tech building to serve as a prominent gateway to the university and the Gunnison community. The building will be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) architectural standard. The LEED certification is the most widely used green-building rating system in the world and is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability. The new building will use both passive solar and geothermal energy for heating and cooling.
“By expanding the number of qualified students who have access to a technological education, this partnership between Western and CU will help meet the demands of our state’s rapidly expanding high-tech industries,” said Bobby Braun, dean of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “This partnership is good for the economic competitiveness of our state and will allow CU to continue to expand our reach across the Western Slope.”
A partnership serving the state’s needs
As Colorado’s status as a technology hub continues to grow, so does the gap between demand and available local talent. For example, last year there were more than 15 job openings for every one technology-related worker, according to the Colorado Workforce Development Council.
By providing additional engineering degrees, the Western-CU Boulder partnership will help meet the increasing need for high-tech professionals statewide, officials say. Upperlevel computer science and engineering classes will be taught by the CU faculty and will use the same curriculum and instruction methods that have been developed by the CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty and staff.
“Western offers a fantastic education in a great setting, and I am truly grateful for the outstanding education I received there,” said Rady. “Now, Western is perfectly positioned to build on its academic strengths by incorporating highlevel, career-focused computer science and engineering programs.
“Our state needs this kind of next-generation thinking in higher education,” he continued. “There is tremendous demand for young computer scientists and engineers throughout our state and nation. I’m proud to be partnering with Western State Colorado University and the University of Colorado to help make it happen.”
Rady has a long and distinguished career in the oil and gas industry and has always been based in Denver.
In 2001, he donated $1 million to establish an Endowed Chair in Petroleum Geology at Western. At the time, it was the largest cash gift in university history and the first milliondollar gift received by Western’s Foundation. Rady supplemented the Endowed Chair in Petroleum Geology endowment with an additional gift of $1.5 million in 2014.
CU President Bruce Benson said he’s not surprised by the “vision and generosity” of Rady, a long-time friend.
“This innovative collaboration will prepare students in engineering and STEM fields who will meet critical needs on the Western Slope and throughout Colorado,” Benson added.