DU Finalizes James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus

It has taken nearly a year but DU has finalized the purchase of a Rocky Mountain Campus. Originally thought to be the Beaver Village Condos in Winter Park, the new mountain campus will be near Ft. Collins on a sprawling 724-acre tract of land, currently named Magic Sky Ranch near Red Feather Lakes. According to sources, a key donor balked at the Winter Park site which was on a commercial parcel near the entrance to downtown Winter Park. The idea was to identify a parcel that provided more privacy and a more unique outdoor experience and it appears they have found exactly what they’re looking for with the James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus.

According to DU meeting documents, the cost of the mountain campus “will be funded 100% through philanthropy. We (DU) envision this being proposed to a small set of donors at a very high level and will not take any resources away from existing programs and funds gifted to the university.”

The Opportunity and Strategy Task Force expressed their intention to secure a mountain campus in July. Task force minutes reveal the following:

The vision of a mountain campus plays a key role in the 4D student experience (intellectual growth, well-being, character development and professional growth). A mountain campus gives us somewhere to take our students and faculty where they can be immersed in nature, develop leadership skills, and a strong sense of community.

Now more than ever, there are questions about the value of higher education. DU has really leaned into being an urban campus, such as through programs like CCSEL and our numerous clinical programs. We are actively engaged in the Denver community. However, how do we leverage the asset that the Rocky Mountains provide for us?

Research about Generation Z student shows that they desire in-person interaction and experiential education more than generations previously. It will be interesting to see how the isolation that COVID has brought will influence this trend.

Site Map

Magic Sky Ranch is almost a turnkey operation for DU. Operating as a camp in the past, the facility has dining halls, sleeping cabins, stables, and even an amphitheater. While DU may invest additional funds in infrastructure, the site is largely complete and able to meet Denver’s mountain campus requirements to include facilities, solitude, and nature.

Magic Sky Facilities

Chancellor Jeremy Haefner is a major proponent of a mountain campus idea, modeled off a similar remote Dartmouth campus and three other universities in the US. Brandon Buzbee, DU’s Vice Chancellor for Global Networks and Development, has been the point man on the project.

Top photo of Magic Sky Ranch: CopelandDesignWorks

4 thoughts on “DU Finalizes James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus”

  1. I’m sure this will be big news in DU’s campus newspaper, The Clarion … wait, nope, more navel gazing, opinion and reporting on far away events students have no direct knowledge of. Left without any experienced staff guidance, the Clarion has sunk into irrelevance.

  2. I like the idea in theory as a recruiting tool for students. Outdoor education and school spirit can be built with a mountain campus like this..

    On the other hand, DU needs to be very strategic with how it is used, since I’m not a fan of obligations that take students away from campus when DU sporting events being are held, as it decreases game attendance and atmosphere on campus, which hurts our teams.

    Colorado already has plenty of other diversions which suck away potential sports spectators, and this could be just another one…

  3. This is excellent news. The school cannot build socialists in anything less than a beautiful, luxuriously appointed mountain resort!

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