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CU Personality // Zack Strober

Photo: Jeff Hawkins

On either a crisp early-May morning with the dripping dew slowly evaporating into the sunrise on the Tivoli Quad, or a mid-December afternoon at the bustling Colorado Convention Center, you’ll see a myriad of people sprinting around to put the finishing touches on the biannual celebrations of student success, the fall and spring commencement ceremonies.

At the helm of these and many other efforts is CU Denver’s resident event-planner extraordinaire, Zack Strober. Although his position and duties have changed throughout his time at CU Denver, Strober gets a chance to plan events with purpose.

When asked about whether schooling directly helped him get to the position that he’s in today, Strober answered frankly that “school had little to do with it.” He initially pursued architecture at UC Berkeley but finished his undergrad with a degree in psychology. At that point, Strober moved to Seattle with the intention of working for a year and then taking the Graduate Record Exams (GRE).

However, the the thought of taking the GRE shifted farther and farther away from Strober’s goals. In a short time he had become the head concierge at a 4-star hotel in downtown Seattle and felt like he had a shot to experience life.

“It was an incredible opportunity to live life like a tourist,” Strober said. “You have to be the resident expert of the best places around.” Strober attended cutting-edge live entertainment, restaurant openings, and arranged exceptional excursions for guests to make the most out of their trips.

After a stint planning events back in the Bay Area, Strober and his wife relocated to her hometown of Denver. He continued to work as an event specialist for corporate and association clientele looking to splurge during their time in the Rockies, but he felt that his work lacked purpose. “These clients had lots of money,” Strober said. “They focused on their cost and I focused on the profit margin. I realized that if I continued to do events, I wanted to work for a cause I supported.”

Starting in 2010, Strober worked as an event coordinator for CU Denver and organized events like commencement and new faculty welcome receptions, and has since been instrumental in producing new events at CU Denver such as the annual Block Party, Milo’s launch, and the inaugural fall commencement ceremony for the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Planning any event on a college campus comes with its challenges. Though CU Denver boasts one of the most diverse campuses nationwide, it faces similar obstacles as other institutions. “As an undergrad student at Berkeley, I wasn’t very outgoing and I kept to myself,” Strober said. “On a campus as big as Berkeley, it felt easy to get lost. As an event planner on this campus, that experience has stuck with me and shaped the way I form these events. I want to create opportunities for all students to feel connected.” 

In recent years, the growth of CU Denver has played to Strober’s advantage as an event planner. “With the evolution of the mascot, club sports, and new buildings, it’s more comprehensive than ever to create events and to build CU Denver’s community,” Strober said. “We focus on crafting events that touch the student at various points in their career, from convocation to commencement.”

When asked about his pipedream event, Strober said, “While getting someone as big as Beyoncé would be nice, having an event that could scale to meet the needs of and interact with every kind of student on our campus would be ideal.”

Strober and his team get closer to this reality with each and every event they create.

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