The University of Colorado Boulder (commonly referred to as CU or Colorado) is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado, United States. It is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system and was founded five months before Colorado was admitted to the Union in 1876.

In 2015, the university comprised nine colleges and schools and offered over 150 academic programs and enrolled almost 17,000 students.[6] Twelve Nobel Laureates, nine MacArthur Fellows, and 20 astronauts have been affiliated with CU Boulder as students, researchers, or faculty members in its history. The university received nearly $454 million in sponsored research in 2010 to fund programs like the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, and JILA.

The Colorado Buffaloes compete in 17 varsity sports and are members of the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference. The Buffaloes have won 28 national championships: 20 in skiing, seven total in men's and women's cross country, and one in football. Approximately 900 students participate in 34 intercollegiate club sports annually as well.


Location of the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder.

On March 14, 1876, the Colorado territorial legislature passed an amendment to the state constitution that provided money for the establishment of the University of Colorado in Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, and the Colorado Agricultural College in Fort Collins.

Two cities competed for the site of the University of Colorado: Boulder and Cañon City. The consolation prize for the losing city was to be home of the new Colorado State Prison. Cañon City was at a disadvantage as it was already the home of the Colorado Territorial Prison. (There are now six prisons in the Cañon City area.)

The cornerstone of the building that became Old Main was laid on September 20, 1875. The doors of the university opened on September 5, 1877. At the time, there were few high schools in the state that could adequately prepare students for university work, so in addition to the University, a preparatory school was formed on campus. In the fall of 1877, the student body consisted of 15 students in the college proper and 50 students in the preparatory school. There were 38 men and 27 women, and their ages ranged from 12–23 years.[7]

During World War II, Colorado was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a navy commission.[8]


The CU Boulder campus.

The main CU Boulder campus is located south of the Pearl Street Mall. It consists of academic and residential buildings as well as research facilities. The East Campus is about a quarter mile from the main campus and is composed mainly of athletic fields and research buildings.

Old Main


CU Boulder's distinctive architecture style, known as Tuscan Vernacular Revival, was designed by architect Charles Klauder.[9] The oldest buildings, such as Old Main (1876) and Macky Auditorium (1923), were in the Collegiate Gothic style of many East Coast schools, and Klauder's initial plans for the university's new buildings (approved in 1919) were in the same style. A month or so after approval, however, Klauder updated his design by sketching in a new wrap of rough, textured sandstone walls with sloping, multi-leveled red-tiled roofs and Indiana limestone trim. This formed the basis of a unified style which was used in the design of fifteen other buildings between 1921 and 1939.

The sandstone used in the construction of nearly all the buildings on campus was selected from a variety of front range mountain quarries. In 2011, Travel+Leisure named the Boulder campus as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.[10]

Sewall Hall

Residence halls

Currently Freshmen and others attending the University of Colorado Boulder have an option of 24 on- and off-campus residence halls.[11] Residence halls have 17 varieties of room types from singles to four-person rooms and others with apartment style amenities.[12] There are several communities of residence halls located throughout the campus, as well as in a separate area called Williams Village which is located approximately 1.5 miles off of main campus. There is a free bus service that transports students to main campus from Williams Village and vice versa. The University also offers Residential Academic Programs (RAPS) in many of its Residence Halls. RAPs provide students with in-dorm classes tailored to academic interests (international affairs, environmental studies, etc.).

Engineering Center

Engineering Center
Sommers–Bausch Observatory belonging to the University

The Engineering Center on the North-East side of campus houses the nation's largest geotechnical centrifuge as well as ion-implantation and microwave-propagation facilities, spectrometers, electron and other microscopes, and a structural analysis facility.

Norlin Library

Norlin Library

Until 1903, the library collection was housed with the rest of the school in Old Main. The growing size of the library required a move, as the weight of the books was causing physical damage to the floor. The cornerstone for the first separate library building was laid in January 1903, and the building was opened in January 1904. When the new Norlin Library opened in 1940, the old library turned over to the Theatre department, and was converted into classrooms and a theatre.

Norlin Library was the last building to be designed by Klauder. There are two inscriptions on the western face of the building, overlooking the Norlin Quadrangle. Both were composed by President Norlin. The larger inscription reads "Who knows only his own generation remains always a child," based on a Cicero quotation, while the smaller inscription on the marble just over the door reads "Enter here the timeless fellowship of the human spirit."

Macky Auditorium

Macky Auditorium

Macky Auditorium is a large building on the north edge of the University of Colorado campus, near 17th Street and University Avenue, which plays host to various talks, plays, and musical performances. Andrew J. Macky was a prominent businessman involved with the town of Boulder in the late 19th century. Macky served as the President, as well as a stockholder of the First National Bank, an institution founded by another early CU supporter Lewis Cheney. Macky is credited with a number of landmarks throughout Boulder, where he was a carpenter and involved in politics.

The Auditorium opened its doors in 1923, thirteen years after construction started. Macky's adopted daughter, May, sued for a third of Macky's estate, a case that took thirteen years to settle. May was angered that her father left her no money in his will, while leaving $300,000 to CU for the hall's construction. The university eventually won the case, and the majority of critical construction on the building resumed.

The building has a variety of architectural elements from various buildings around the globe that President Baker, CU's president at the turn of the 20th century, admired. The design of the auditorium is primarily Neo-Gothic, with the primary materials being sandstone and red tile, like the rest of campus. The result is a unique building, with two large towers and sprawling ivy, that sets itself apart from the rest of the CU campus. Macky was refurbished in 1986, with improved seating, custom carpeting, modern plumbing and an elevator. Currently there is an electronic bell system in the towers of Macky which rings the hours during the day.

Macky is the home of two departments both in the College of Music, the Jazz Studies Department and the Choral Department, and it houses an art gallery which is open Wednesdays, and to patrons during performances. The hall houses almost all performances by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, the Artist Series, and the CU Opera. Macky is also the home of many lectures including part of the Conference on World Affairs held at CU each spring.

University Memorial Center

Dalton Trumbo Fountain Court behind the UMC on July 13, 2006

In 1947, Colorado Governor Lee Knous issued a proclamation to create a memorial to Colorado's servicemen at the University of Colorado Boulder. A proposal to house this memorial in a student union building resulted in a remarkable fundraising effort. The University Memorial Center (UMC) opened its doors in October 1953 with President Robert Stearns presiding over the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The UMC quickly became the central landmark of the Boulder campus. A 1964 addition created a new book store, conference facilities, additional dining facilities, and offices to house the rapidly growing student activities and organizations. The expansion was financed through bonds granted by student fees.

The 1960s and '70s put the UMC at the center of student activism as students staged strikes, grape boycotts, love-ins, sit-ins, and walk-outs. The UMC Fountain Court (now the Dalton Trumbo Fountain Court) became a familiar sight to network television news watchers as the famous and notorious promoted their cause at CU Boulder. Entertainers as diverse as Ramsey Lewis and the Grateful Dead have performed in the Glenn Miller Ballroom. The UMC Connection, a student entertainment center in the basement, is a more informal gathering place, featuring pool tables and a small bowling alley. It also features Club 156, which hosts concerts from local and up-and-coming bands. In 1986, students passed another bond issue to remodel the food-services area. The Alferd Packer Grill gets its name from Alferd Packer, a famous historical cannibal in Colorado. Many exotic meals can be found here.

Center for Community

The Center for Community, also known as the C4C by students, follows the distinct architecture guidelines of Charles Klauder and is a 323,000-square-foot (30,000 m2) state-of-the-art facility[13] that is promised to be 20 percent to 25 percent more energy- and water-efficient compared to similar-sized buildings.[14] The facility was completed in September 2010 at a cost of $84.4 million.[15] The building is originally bond-financed through the CU treasurer and will be repaid through a combination of sources. A large portion of the debt, $47.4 million, will be repaid by Housing and Dining Services, through room and board fees. Fees from Permit and Parking Services will contribute as well. The Center also relies on $18 million in donations, a goal which has not been achieved, but has become a top fundraising priority for the University.[14]

The Weather Tech Cafe

The building houses offices of Student Services including Campus Card Services, Disability Services, and Career Services among others. These services have been relocated to the C4C from various locations around campus.[14] For example, Career Services was previously housed in the basement of the Willard Dormitory. There is a 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) underground parking structure that contains approximately 365 to 375 parking spaces.[16] Student study areas are located on the upper floors and conference centers are open to campus and non-campus affiliates throughout the building. The dining services offered within the C4C include a CU on the run "grab-n-go," The Bakery, a late night dining hub called the Weather Tech Café, open until 2 A.M, and finally a central dining facility. This dining facility seats 900 and offers students up to nine specialty dining choices including: Persian, Asian, Latin, Sushi, Italian, Kosher, a grill, salad bars, and desserts.[17] Overall the Dining Center is projected to serve around one million meals per year.[14]

Recreation Center

In 1973 the student recreation center was built on the CU Boulder's main campus, by the architect James Wallace.[18] The funding to build the recreation center came entirely from student fees, which also funded the expansions in 1990 and 2014. The recreation center features strength and cardio space, basketball/volleyball courts, an ice rink, lap pool, dive well, fitness studios (cycling, rowing, etc.), climbing gym, turf gym, and an iconic outdoor pool in the shape of the CU Boulder buffalo mascot. It is currently about 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) and operates on a $5 million annual budget. The center is co-managed by the division of student affairs and CUSG, CU Boulder's student government. It is located on the northern edge of campus next to Folsom Field. It is open 7 days a week and on average 16 hours a day with most of its facilities available for use during those hours.[19]

Mary Rippon Theatre

The view from the back of the Mary Rippon Theatre

The Mary Rippon Theatre is an outdoor theater and the site of many cultural events, notably the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. The Theatre was named after Professor Mary Rippon, the first female instructor at the University and one of the first female University instructors in the United States. She taught German and French. Professor Rippon was so popular with students that when attempts were made to replace her with a male instructor, the student body revolted en masse, and Rippon kept her job.[citation needed]

Old Main

Old Main is the oldest building on campus, and previously served as the Medical School for the University of Colorado system.[20]


Norlin Library features two art galleries, several dedicated art spaces, and art works on display throughout the building. The CU Art Museum features cutting edge works of modern and contemporary art, as well as historical art works. The Museum's permanent collection includes over 5,000 works of art from numerous time periods and cultures. The UMC Art Gallery exhibits a variety of visual offerings ranging from student works created on campus to presentations of internationally recognized artists. Andrew J. Macky Gallery showcases the work of both local and national artists and is housed in the historic Macky Auditorium.


University of Colorado Museum of Natural History has one of the most extensive natural history collections in the Rocky Mountain and Plains regions, representing the disciplines of Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Paleontology, and Zoology. It is located in the Henderson building, named after its first curator, Judge Junius Henderson, and hosts the Museum and Field Studies master's (MS) program. The CU Heritage Center[21] tells the stories of CU Boulder's past and present and is housed in Old Main, the first building constructed on campus. Seven galleries exhibit art and memorabilia associated with CU faculty and alumni. The Fiske Planetarium and Science Center features a 60 ft (18 m). planetarium dome and produces laser shows, live concerts, and an ongoing series of public programs. Fiske also offers a hands-on science museum with interactive exhibits and space-themed art.

Performing arts facilities

The University of Colorado Boulder College of Music presents over 400 performances and educational events bringing together faculty, students, and guest artists each year through the Pendulum New Music Series. They present musical genres including classical, jazz, world music, and new music. The University of Colorado Boulder Department of Theatre & Dance is home to the Charlotte York Irey Dance Theatre, the University Theatre, and the Loft Theatre as well as Grusin Music Hall and the Chamber Music Hall in the College of Music. Over twenty productions are presented each year featuring student and faculty actors, dancers, choreographers, directors, and designers, as well as the work of professional guest artists. Student work is also showcased in the annual CU Boulder Fringe Festival, produced by OnStage, a student performing arts group.

Visual Arts Complex

Visual Arts Complex

A new visual arts complex that houses the Department of Art and Art History and the CU Art Museum officially opened on September 24, 2010. The new facility houses programming in Art History, Ceramics, Drawing, Foundations, Integrated Art, Painting, Printmaking (screen printing, intaglio, lithography), Sculpture, and Integrated Media Arts Practices (IMAP) including Digital, Photography, and Video Art. The building contains studio classrooms, seminar rooms, a wood-shop with a CNC Machine and metal-shop, and a 200-seat auditorium. It also has resources for art and art history majors, including darkrooms, graduate student and faculty studios and offices, as well as twenty-eight student exhibition spaces throughout the facility. Additional resources include the Visual Resources Center, the Exhibitions Program of the CU Art Museum, the Colorado Collection (an art collection of approximately 5,000 pieces), and multiple computing labs.


Roser ATLAS Center

The Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS), established in 1997, is a University of Colorado campus-wide initiative in education, research, creative work and outreach in which information and communication technology is the enabling force. ATLAS programs bring together students, educators, artists, writers, scholars and leaders from the academy, industry, non-profits and government to create a multidisciplinary environment that contributes to the understanding of the interaction of information and communication technologies and human society, and to the realization of the full potential of that interaction.[22]

The Hill

The Hill, a college neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado, lies directly west of the University of Colorado campus. The central street of the neighborhood is 13th street, which features a variety of attractions including the renowned concert venue, The Fox Theater and is nearby The Sink and several other attractions.


CU Boulder Colleges and Schools[23]
College of Arts and Sciences
Leeds School of Business
School of Education
College of Engineering and Applied Science
Graduate School
University of Colorado School of Law
College of Media, Communication and Information
College of Music
Continuing Education and Professional Studies
Program in Environmental Design

The University of Colorado Boulder is divided into several colleges and schools. While the College of Arts and Sciences is by far the largest, the university also consists of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Program in Environmental Design, Education, Music, Law, and the Leeds School of Business, plus a new College of Media, Communication and Information that debuted in 2014. Most, if not all, of these colleges and schools also incorporate masters and doctorate level degree programs. At the University, there are currently approximately 3,400 courses available in over 150 disciplines comprising 85 majors ranging from Accounting to Women's Studies.

University of Colorado School of Law is the smallest and most selective of the colleges. The Wolf Law Building, the new home of the Law School, was dedicated on September 8, 2006, by United States Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer.

The Leeds School of Business has an enrollment of 3,300 students including undergraduates, master's candidates, and Ph.D. candidates. The undergraduate program ranks 39th in the country and the undergraduate entrepreneurship program ranks 14th in the nation. The MBA program ranks 26th among all public universities. The faculty are ranked 38th in the nation according to the Academy of Management Journal.

CU Boulder adopted an honor code in 2000 following growing concerns about academic dishonesty on campus in the late 1990s.[24] A copy of the code stating "On my honor, as a University of Colorado Boulder student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this work" is engraved on a metal plate and posted in every classroom on campus.

Undergraduates who seek an academic challenge may participate in CU's Honors Program. Begun in 1931, the Honors Program currently consists of the top ten percent of incoming freshmen and participating undergraduates with a 3.3 GPA or greater (on a 4.0 scale). The program offers over 40 honors classes each semester taught by tenured or tenure-track professors and limited to class sizes of 15 students. Honors students also have the opportunity to graduate with honors, high honors, and highest honors, by writing and defending a thesis during their senior year. The program extends into the residence halls through the Kittredge Honors Program. The Presidents Leadership Class is a program for top scholars at the University of Colorado Boulder. Scholars participate in a four-year leadership development program. The program provides opportunities to the top fifty students at CU from every major and discipline.

One option for students (mostly freshman and sophomores) living on campus is to join a residential academic program (RAP). Each RAP focuses on a curricular theme, and offer courses in the residence hall itself. The programs also include educational activities.


University rankings
ARWU[25] 27
Forbes[26] 120
U.S. News & World Report[27] 90
Washington Monthly[28] 226
ARWU[29] 43
QS[30] 182
Times[31] 100
U.S. News & World Report[32] 32

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Colorado Boulder tied for 90th best among all national universities, tied for 39th among public universities in the U.S., and tied for 32nd best among all universities globally in 2017.[33] The Center for World University Rankings ranked CU Boulder 19th among U.S. public comprehensive institutions and 63rd overall in the world in its 2014 ranking of the top 100 degree-granting institutions of higher education.[34]

Twenty-four CU Boulder graduate school specialty programs are ranked in the top 50 in the nation, including seven in the top 10, by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.[33] CU Boulder’s atomic/molecular/optical physics program holds the top spot nationally (1). Other CU Boulder programs ranking in the top 10 are environmental law (5), ceramics (8), quantum physics (8), geology (9), physical chemistry (9) and aerospace engineering (8).[33] U.S. News & World Report also ranked the Education school 29th, the Engineering school 34th, the Law school 40th, and the Business school tied for 86th.[33] In its 2010 rankings of American doctoral programs, The National Research Council ranked the PhD program in Geography at CU Boulder tied for second in the U.S.[35]

In 2015 Thomson-Reuters ranked the University of Colorado system as the 28th most innovative educational institution in the world.[36]

In 2015, Sierra Magazine ranked CU Boulder 52nd in its "Coolest Schools" in America list for campus sustainability and climate change efforts.[37]


Admission to CU Boulder is rated as "less selective" by The College Board.[38]

For fall 2015, CU Boulder received 31,326 freshmen applications; 24,941 were admitted (80%).[39] The average GPA of the enrolled freshmen was 3.58, while the middle 50% range of SAT scores were 520-630 for critical reading and 540-660 for math.[39] The middle 50% range of the ACT Composite score was 24-30, while the middle 50% range was 23-30 for ACT English and 24-29 for ACT Math.[39]


As of 2006, there were more than 3,800 tenured or tenure-eligible faculty members, as well as 4,400 non-tenured adjunct professors and instructors.[40] Current faculty include Nobel laureates David J. Wineland (physics 2012), John Hall (physics, 2005), Eric Cornell (physics, 2001), and Thomas Robert Cech (chemistry, 1989). Carl Wieman was also awarded a Nobel prize for his work with Eric Cornell. He maintains a part-time appointment at the University of Colorado Boulder but his primary appointment is Professor and Director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia. Controversial writer Ward Churchill was a professor of ethnic studies until he was wrongly fired in July 2007.[41] Robert T. Craig an International Communication Association Fellow and author of "Communication Theory as a Field" is a professor in the Communication Department.

Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Technology Education (CAETE) is a partnership between the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. As the distance learning and professional studies arm of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, CAETE provides courses from the College to working professionals via the Internet and CD-ROM. Students can take courses for professional development or toward earning a master's degree or graduate certificate (in some disciplines) in aerospace engineering, computer science, electrical, computer and energy engineering, engineering management, and telecommunications. Founded in 1983, CAETE currently receives over 1,000 enrollments a year from over 250 job sites in Colorado, across the nation, and abroad.


The CU Independent is the award-winning, student-run news publication for the University of Colorado Boulder. It has been digital-only since 2006, one of the first major college newspapers to drop its print edition.[42] The publication has a staff of about 60 editors, reporters and photographers who are responsible for producing new content to update the website at least once a day during the fall and spring semesters. Most contributors are journalism majors, but other CU programs are represented as well. A managing editor and an editor-in-chief oversee the website. The CU Independent serves as a testing pad for community news and multimedia.

1000-Word Philosophy is a philosophy blog that publishes introductory 1000-word (or less) essays on philosophical topics.[43] Most of the authors are the students and graduates of the CU Boulder. The blog is created and edited by Andrew D. Chapman, a philosophy lecturer at this university.[44][45][46] The essays generally include references or sources for more information.[47]

What’s Wrong? is the “not quite official” blog of the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Center for Values and Social Policy. It is edited by David Boonin, professor of philosophy and Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities. The blog's purpose is to provide "a forum for discussing and reporting on topics in applied normative philosophy".[48][49]

Research Institutes

CU Boulder's research mission is supported by eleven research institutes within the university. Each research institute supports faculty from multiple academic departments, allowing institutes to conduct truly multidisciplinary research.

The Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) is a research institute within the Graduate School dedicated to conducting and facilitating research on the genetic and environmental bases of individual differences in behavior.[50] After its founding in 1967 IBG led the resurging interest in genetic influences on behavior. IBG was the first post-World War II research institute dedicated to research in behavioral genetics. IBG remains one of the top research facilities for research in behavioral genetics, including human behavioral genetics, psychiatric genetics, quantitative genetics, statistical genetics, and animal behavioral genetics.[51]

The Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) at CU Boulder promotes interdisciplinary research and training in cognitive science. ICS is highly interdisciplinary; its research focuses on education, language processing, emotion, and higher level cognition using experimental methods. It is home to a state of the art fMRI system used to collect neuroimaging data.

In addition to IBG and ICS, the university's other institutes are the Alliance for Technology, Learning, & Society (ATLAS), Biofrontiers Institute, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) JILA, Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP), Renewable & Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

Campus organizations

The University of Colorado Student Government

The University of Colorado Student Government (CUSG) is the student government for the University of Colorado Boulder. The government contains three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Presiding officers for the student government are elected in a bi-annual vote administered to the 30,000 students at the University. The student government has an autonomy agreement with the University Administration and oversees an annual budget of $36.6 million. CUSG is responsible for the management of the University Student Union, the Recreation Center, the GLBTQ Resource Center, the Women's Resource Center, and the Wardenburg Health Center, along with various other facilities on campus. The government also oversees the fiscal appropriations of over 120 student groups on a yearly basis.

Chinese Students and Scholars Association

Chinese Students and Scholars Association at CU Boulder was founded in 1996. It is also known as CSSA@CU-Boulder. CSSA aims to promote Chinese culture to the campus community and build a home for all Chinese students and scholars in Boulder. Every year, CSSA holds many events, such as the Chinese New Year Gala, Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration, New Students Welcome, Sports Games, Hiking, Singing and Dancing Party, Movie Night, and more.

Hiking Club

Founded in May 1919, the Hiking Club is the longest running student organization at the University of Colorado Boulder.[52] It is a non-profit, student-run organization for university students and affiliates interested in hiking and outdoors activities, with hundreds of active members on campus.

The club organizes member-led trips every weekend, and travels throughout the Rocky Mountain Region during breaks to wilderness areas in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.[52] Depending on the outing, various activities are featured such as climbing, mountain biking, hot-springing, and backpacking. Examples of frequent trip destinations include the nearby Indian Peaks Wilderness, ascents of Colorado's fourteeners, and day-hikes among the picturesque Flatirons.

The club motto, "half mile more," dates back to the 1940s of the club's tradition-rich history.[52] A slide show[53] of the club's activities is shown on campus during semi-annual new member meetings and the alumni association meets annually.

Radio 1190

KVCU AM-1190, popularly known as Radio 1190, is a college radio station affiliated with the University of Colorado Boulder. Staff of the station are compensated with funds provided by the University of Colorado Student Union while operating funds are raised during biannual on-air pledge drives. It is also run by volunteers from the journalism program.[54]

Boulder Freeride

Boulder Freeride is the ski and snowboard club at the University of Colorado Boulder. It was started in 1933, and has thrived on the CU campus as a student run, nonprofit organization.[55] It was designed to promote skiing, and later, snowboarding at the University of Colorado Boulder campus.[55]

Boulder Freeride is active year-round.[55] Fall activities include a camping trip, BBQs, popular ski and snowboard movie premieres, and one of the year's biggest events, Welcome Freeriders.[55]

Boulder Freeride organizes a number of ski trips each year. Past trips have included a Thanksgiving trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, an annual trip to Aspen, Colorado to see the X Games, spring break trips to Innsbruck, Austria, Whistler, BC and Chamonix, France, and summer surf trips to South America.[55]

CU Cycling Club

Founded in 1983 by Jim Castagneri, the team was taken to the national championships in 1987 by 1992 Olympian John Stenner. The CU cycling team frequently ranks in the top five USA Cycling Collegiate teams in both road cycling and mountain biking disciplines. They have won the national championship on several occasions, including 2005 where they won in both disciplines.[56] From the club, many members have gone on into professional cycling, such as Tyler Hamilton.

The team is open to any student who pays annual dues and meets a minimum amount of credits during the semester. The members include nearly every different type of cyclist, from BMX riders, trials, and bicycle commuters to elite amateur or part-time professional road and mountain riders. Specifically, to qualify for road or mountain nationals, a rider must have enough high race results to upgrade to "A" category in the USA Cycling rankings. Then, a number of "A" riders will be chosen by the coaches to represent CU at the National Championships. The number of riders the team is allowed to send is based on how well the team did overall during the season.

CU Boulder Racing Team

The CU Boulder Racing Team is an organization focused on various road racing competitions. The main goal is building racecars to compete in Formula SAE and rigorous endurance races such as the 24 Hour of LeMons

Program Council

Established in 1953, Program Council is a student run group that coordinates concerts and movies played on campus throughout the year.[57] Program Council mainly focuses on organizing concerts around campus. Over the years, this group has brought such acts as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Ramones, and many more to the University of Colorado. Concerts vary in size ranging from large scale concerts, to smaller local acts, some of which are free to attend. Besides concerts, Program Council also hosts a film series throughout the year which allows students to see soon-to-be-released movies as well as cult classics for free in one of the large lecture halls on campus.

The Herd

The Herd is one of the largest student alumni groups in the nation, with over 6,000 members.[58] The Herd's main goal is increasing school spirit. Therefore, the Herd encourages students to attend school activities such as sports games and club meetings. The Herd also sponsors discounted bus rides to the ski slopes, discounts around Boulder, and football pre-game parties. Sixteen student leaders run the group; the group is open to currently enrolled students.

Volunteer Resource Center

The Volunteer Resource Center is a student funded organization aimed towards promoting volunteerism in the Boulder community. They provide a database with volunteer opportunities of 250 organizations around campus and in the Boulder area.[59] The CU Boulder campus was recently one of 3 U.S. Universities to receive the Presidential Award for Exemplary Student Community Service in 2008. The Volunteer Resource Center hosts or participates in special volunteer events and activities including Alternative Breaks, Better Boulder Better World, and The Buffalo Can Challenge. The Volunteer Resource Center also a yearly Volunteer Internship Program which engages six selected students through an interview process to create events aimed at involving more freshmen in volunteering, effectively managing all logistics of the event, and implementing the events on campus.

Greek life

The Panhellenic sorority community consists of nine Panhellenic sororities and two associate, local-interest, chapters. The men's fraternities at the University of Colorado are not officially affiliated with the school; however, they are still a presence on campus. Students who participate in Greek Life account for a little more than ten percent of the student body. The recruitment process consists of four datebooks, dressing from more casual to formal as the datebooks progress. First day is introduction, second day is philanthropy, third day is skit night, and the fourth day is preference night.[60]

There is also a Multicultural Greek Council that is composed of Asian Greek Letter Organization(s), Latino(a) Greek Letter Organization(s), and Multicultural Greek Letter Organization(s). The MGC act as a liaison between the member organizations and university administration, and promotes unity between the organizations and the college community.[61]

Left Right TIM Improv Comedy

Started in 2008 by CU Boulder students[62], Left Right TIM is the Boulder area's premier and longest running improv comedy team, performing a weekly improvised comedy show every Friday during the University's academic year in the Hale Anthropology Building Room 270 of the school's campus. The team accepts new members every year and has performed in cities around the country as well as opening for established stand up comedians and improv theaters.[63][not in citation given] On February 23, 2018, the group celebrated its ten year anniversary.

Sports, clubs, and traditions

Sports teams at the school are called Buffaloes. The varsity athletic teams participate in the NCAA's Division I (FBS for football, see Bowl Championship Series) as a member of the Pac-12 Conference. The school officially joined the Pac-12 on July 1, 2011, ending its affiliation with the Big 12 Conference. (CU had previously been a member of the former Big Eight Conference, whose members had merged with four schools of the former Southwest Conference to create the new Big 12 Conference in 1996.) The official school colors are silver and gold, as opposed to the common belief of black and gold. Silver and gold were chosen to represent the state's mineral wealth, but the colors did not look good together on the uniforms, so black was substituted.[64] There are three official fight songs: "Glory Colorado", "Go Colorado", and "Fight CU."[65][66] In the early 1980s, the Board of Regents changed the school colors to sky blue and gold; but the changed proved highly unpopular with students and alumni, and the colors were changed back after 1985.

In 1934, the University teams were officially nicknamed the "Buffaloes." Previous nicknames used by the press included the "Silver Helmets" and "Frontiersmen." The final game of 1934, against the University of Denver, saw the first running of a buffalo in a Colorado football game. A buffalo calf was rented from a local ranch and ran along the sidelines.

Varsity athletics

Official athletics logo

CU's varsity teams have won national championships in skiing, men's cross country, women's cross country, and football. Conference championships have also been won in several sports. Several club sports, such as cycling, swimming & diving, and triathlon, have won national championships in addition to the varsity teams.

In football, CU enjoys an in-state rivalry with the Colorado State Rams in the "Rocky Mountain Showdown", a game that is played at the neutral site Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Additionally, Colorado and former Big Eight and Big 12 rival Nebraska Cornhuskers have played some notable games, often finishing their respective seasons in nationally televised confrontations on the Friday following Thanksgiving since the 1990s. This ended after the 2010 season as a result of CU joining the Pac-12 and Nebraska joining the Big Ten Conference.

Colorado once had rivalries with the Utah Utes and the Air Force Falcons, but these have not been played in recent years. However, the Utah rivalry was renewed in 2011, as the Utes also joined the Pac-10 (which became the Pac-12).

The CU ski team has won 20 National Championships at the Division I level. The sport is not sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, however (nor was it sponsored by the Big 12).

Club sports

CU also maintains one of the largest Club Sports departments in the U.S. It supports over 30 club teams with leading clubs such as both men's and women's water polo, crew, cycling, Ultimate, swimming & diving, fencing, men's lacrosse, baseball, softball, ice hockey, rugby union, and the CU Triathlon Team.

Mascot; spirit program

CU also includes a spirit program. The spirit program consists of three teams: two Cheerleading squads, and the CU Express Dance Team. The Cheerleading Program consists of a competitive co-ed squad as well as a competitive all-girl squad. Both the Cheerleading squad and the Express Dance Team compete at NCA/NDA College Nationals. In 2007, the Cheerleading squad finished sixth[67] at NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida. All squads support the home games of football, Women's Basketball, Men's Basketball and Women's Volleyball teams, along with other athletic and social events.

The school's live mascot is an American Bison named Ralphie.[68] The costumed mascot CHIP is also a part of the CU Spirit Program. CHIP is a costumed buffalo that represents the University of Colorado at numerous athletic and social events. Along with the Cheer and Dance Program, CHIP competes on a national level once a year against mascots from around the country, including Bucky Badger, Sparty, Aubie, Goldy Gopher and many other Hall of Fame mascots. Most recently CHIP competed in the 2009 UCA national competition and was crowned #1, and the national champion after performing a skit titled "CHIP's Favorite Video Games".

Folsom Field

Clubs and other organizations

CU Boulder offers a variety of political student organizations which cover the full spectrum of politics. Among them are Amnesty International, which focuses on human rights worldwide, as well as the College Democrats and the College Republicans. The University of Colorado also offers many clubs promoting diversity and human rights, such as the Gay Straight Alliance. Students can also choose from a plethora of clubs and organizations centered on ethnicities and countries, as well as different religious groups. CU Boulder also maintains one of the nation's most competitive student-run parliamentary debate programs. In 2010, CU Boulder became the first fully student-run program to win the NPTE (the national championship of parliamentary debate).[69]


Most students at CU Boulder are aligned with the American political left. A 2014 survey stated that 16.3% of the students are registered as members of the Republican Party, along with 10.5% of CU Boulder non-faculty staff and 6% of CU Boulder faculty.[70]

Noted alumni

The University of Colorado Boulder ranks fourth among U.S. universities in number of astronauts produced, not including military academies.[40] In addition, the University of Colorado Boulder has graduated two Heads of State - Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and two associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States - Wiley Rutledge, and Byron White. Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla was also an alumna.

Notable accomplishments at CU

  • First to create a new form of matter, the Bose–Einstein condensate, just a 7 hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero.[71]
  • First to observe a "fermionic condensate" formed from pairs of atoms in a gas.[72]
  • Developed the "FluChip" to aid physicians in diagnosing respiratory illness and differentiating between three types of influenza and other viruses that cause similar symptoms.[73]
  • First place in the 2002 and 2005 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. At these first two Solar Decathlon competitions, students and faculty from the Engineering and Architecture programs collaborated to design, construct, transport, and rebuild a house powered exclusively by the sun.[74]
  • The Squid server was created at the University of Colorado Boulder by Duane Wessels as part of Harvest project under grant from National Science Foundation.
  • First zero waste sports stadium (both collegiate and professional) in the nation.[75]


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External links