DU’s Mountain Campus Moves Another Step Closer to Reality in Grand County

For a number of months, high-level University of Denver administrators had openly discussed the possibility of a satellite mountain campus. Initial discussions hinted at the possibility of a location outside Frasier, Colorado at Devils Thumb Ranch. However, a new Sky High News report indicates DU’s formal interest in buying and preserving the historic Beaver Valley Lodge in Winter Park, Colorado, located in Grand County.

Beaver Valley Lodge is located at the south entrance to the village of Winter Park. Winter Park is exploding with development but the two-star Beaver Valley Lodge, built in 1940, was falling behind surrounding development and requires substantial work to restore and improve the current asset. Brandon Buzbee, Associate Vice Chancellor of Global Networks and special advisor to DU’s chancellor on the mountain campus, is leading DU’s efforts. DU will be working with Roam Development, which owns the Beaver Village Lodge, to develop the property. The University’s project is expected to cost $28 million, with $13 million for the renovation and $15 million to endow the program.

LetsGoDU contributor Tim Healy, with close connections to the village of Winter Park as well as the nearby ski area, said, “I think Winter Park is a great fit for a DU mountain campus. DU has a long history with both the town and Winter Park Resort. DU choosing to renovate the Beaver Lodge is a great way to preserve a historic building that otherwise would’ve been demolished for new development.”

A mountain campus supports the educational pillars that the Chancellor introduced as part of Denver’s strategic thrust. Buzbee introduced three of the four “programming pillars” that DU hopes to bring to life with the project: a student mountain experience, an outdoor leadership program, and an educational partnership.

Per Sky High News, with DU welcoming 1,200-1,500 freshmen a year, the University wants every single new student to visit the Rocky Mountain campus for orientation. The thought is to bring the students on a rotating basis for two-night stays over a six-week period. DU also plans to provide the mountain campus experience to students for free.

There may also be quarter-long stays for certain education programs that require work experience, and the outdoor leadership program would focus on traditional mountain activities.

The timing is particularly keen with soaring development and construction costs in the Rocky Mountains. Winter Park is no longer a minor ski town. Retail development, condominiums, and homes are being built at a record pace, transforming what was once a ‘day-trip town’ to a destination that will compete with nearly all of Colorado’s best mountain communities.

The Grand County Commissioners expressed enthusiasm over the historic lodge being preserved following some rumors that it might have to be torn down. The Beaver Village Lodge opened in 1940, the same year as Winter Park Resort, according to the article by Sky High News.

Photo of Beaver Valley Lodge courtesy of Trip Advisor

7 thoughts on “DU’s Mountain Campus Moves Another Step Closer to Reality in Grand County”

  1. I like it –
    I mean at the end of the day some would question aggressive moves like this during all the pandemic malaise but I view it like the stock market – buy assets when they’re low.

    Just like Burwell, Dimond, and Comm Comm this would be a shiny jewel to attract students. Beautiful smaller campus in a world class city but you’ll also have the chance to take classes/do retreats in an idyllic mountain setting. If i’m one of the many kids from say Chicagoland who look at DU, this would be a pretty big mark in the “plus” column.

    If there was a Winter Park discount for students/staff/faculty that would be another big draw.

  2. Dunker believes the Winter Park campus would be a out of the box terrific addition to our already great university. This is evidence of the pioneering spirit that makes DU so special.

  3. LOL, after years of trying to shed the image of a school for rich kids who couldn’t get into the Ivy Leagues and like to ski 🙂 Looks like we’re just gong to lean right into it Whatever it takes, i guess. .

  4. CC, CSU and CU all have similar mountain campuses. If you take a look at the DU parents webpage, they love the idea. To a person, they cite the mountains for the reason their son/daughter came to DU. My only wish was that this be done sooner because the costs have soared for mountain properties and construction.

    1. I am sure the money is coming from a restricted donation for this purpose. It won’t be coming from the general budget…

  5. I’m pretty sure that the existence of a geological feature is not the reason that all parents “to a person” send their kids to DU. But I’m also sure that it is a part of the equation for some out of state students. I think this is a fine idea, why not? Getting the freshmen up there for some kind of retreat is a good idea. Looks like a cool building that DU will bring up to a high standard.

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