Beyond state of the art
[ Chris Rourke / Western Colorado University ]
With its sleek exterior, breathtaking interior and environmentally friendly functionality, the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science & Engineering is ready to open its doors to Western Colorado University students in just days.
The completion of the more than state-of-the-art facility made possible through an $80 million gift is the culmination of a vision initiated two years ago—to provide students the means of obtaining a degree from one of the nation’s top public engineering school at an affordable price.
Equipped with a new director, Jenifer Blacklock, Ph.D., who has guided programs at both the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Rady School is ready to train future engineers and computer scientists, fulfilling a growing national demand for those skilled in these fields.
Western president Greg Salsbury compared the impact of the new computer science and engineering school on the Western Slope of Colorado to that of General William Jackson Palmer’s narrow-gauge railway navigating the Black Canyon in 1882, a feat that most critics dismissed at the time as impossible. Yet, it was one in which had lasting influence.
“With roughly 80 percent of all philanthropy in higher education each year going to fewer than two dozen schools around the country, what are the odds of a little public school in the middle of the Rocky Mountains landing the second largest donation in the history of all of Colorado higher education to pull this off?” said Salsbury of the achievement.
Still, the university president noted that the significance of the school’s opening goes far beyond the structural and technological sophistication of the building.
“The new school is phenomenal, especially with the furthering of a dynamic new partnership between a top-20 American engineering school and a little school known for its teaching excellence, and turning out of exemplary citizens, Paul Rady being one of those,” Salsbury said.
Innovation in education
About two years ago, Western embarked on a game-changing idea—collaboration with CU-Boulder to create a computer science and engineering program, and the construction of a cutting-edge facility in which to house it.
Behind the idea is Western alumnus Paul M. Rady ‘78, who wanted to give back to the school he credits with providing him a tremendous education as well as help students obtain a degree from one of the nation’s best engineering schools at an affordable price.
The principal of Antero Resources, Rady gave Western the largest donation it had ever received—totaling more than $90 million. The money was to establish the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science & Engineering, create the CU Partnership Program with Western, provide scholarships and construct a state-of-the-art facility.