RE/MAX real estate moguls Dave and Gail Liniger have donated The Wildlife Experience facility in Douglas County to The University of Colorado, the largest real estate donation in the institution’s 138-year history.
The $40 million gift will allow CU to expand its new CU South Denver presence. Dave Liniger is the chairman emeritus of The Wildlife Experience and co-founder of RE/MAX International, Inc.
The Liniger gift builds on the collaboration that began in April when the Linigers teamed with CU, converting 11,000-square-feet of the 151,000-square-foot facility to classroom and lab space. CU began offering classes there in August, while the wildlife art and natural history museum continued most of its museum services to the community.
The first classes at the facility are being offered by CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. CU’s Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses are expected to add programs in the future. CU Denver will manage the facility on behalf of the system.
In recognition of the Linigers’ generosity, the CU Board of Regents today approved naming the facility the Liniger Building at the University of Colorado South Denver.
“Dave and Gail Liniger have demonstrated a vision and commitment to serving our community and state that will have a substantial impact for decades to come,” said CU President Bruce D. Benson. “We value the confidence they have in CU and appreciate their transformational gift. The Wildlife Experience has been a cultural touchstone in south Denver and adding higher education will build on its commitment to the community.”
The Wildlife Experience was founded in 2002 and is designed to serve as a cultural and educational center for south Denver. The facility hosts exhibits in fine art, natural history and interactive science each year and provides space for private and community events.
“Gail and I are making this gift to CU to provide more services and more value to our south Denver community,” Liniger said. “The museum remains open, events will be held, and the public spaces will be available for rental. The added value now is the easy access to a quality CU education right here in south Denver.”
Some CU classes at the facility are underway and others are scheduled to begin in October. Among the offerings from CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus are programs from the Business School, the School of Education and Human Development, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Nursing and the Colorado School of Public Health.
“The initial course offerings demonstrate the wide range of educational opportunities CU is bringing to south Denver,” said University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor Don Elliman. “CU Denver is proud to be managing this initiative on behalf of the CU system, and we look forward to adding even more options for students with classes and faculty from the CU Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses.”
Lisa Douglas, associate vice chancellor for budget and finance at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, has been named vice chancellor of the new facility.
“The University of Colorado’s four campuses will offer a generous supply of quality higher education to serve the residents of south Denver,” Douglas said. “The benefits of combining quality higher education with community service and events are compelling.”
Before entering into the initial collaboration with The Wildlife Experience, CU conducted a market study and interviewed leaders from south Denver’s major employers and professional organizations. The study identified gaps in educational offerings in the south Denver area, which accounts for one-third of the population of metro Denver and is home to a variety of engineering, finance and health-care related companies.