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Chancellor Dorothy Horrell announces retirement

Horrell reflects on time at CU Denver

Horrell will retire on June 30, 2020.
Photo: Courtesy of the Office of the Chancellor

On Sept. 12, Chancellor Dorothy Horrell announced her retirement in an email to the CU Denver community. She explained that her final day as CU Denver’s Chancellor will be June 30, 2020.

This won’t be Chancellor Horrell’s first retirement. Before becoming Chancellor, she worked as the CEO for the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, from which she retired in 2013, with the goal of becoming a full-time grandmother. 

Then, in 2016, she got a call from Bruce Benson, former CU System President, asking her for a three-year commitment as Chancellor of CU Denver. During those three years, she set out with one overarching goal: help CU Denver come into its own.

“At first it was like, ‘Do I really want to jump all the way in?’” Chancellor Horrell said. “It only took a couple of months and I said to myself, ‘Absolutely.’”

Diving in meant more than establishing new resources like the CityCenter and proposing a new building for the College of Engineering, Design and Computing. To Horrell, her time here was meant to elevate what has been here all along: passionate students, faculty, and staff. Reawakening the purpose of the university meant taking their values and bringing that to the community.

“It’s just this deep sense and belief that everyone matters, and everyone has a place and potential,” Horrell said. “Our job collectively is to help bring that to its fullest potential.”

In her time as Chancellor, CU Denver has established itself as Colorado’s only urban public research university. Research and work happening on campus will no longer only impact academia but reach those who around the world need CU Denver’s expertise the most.

“This social justice thread is very strong here,” Horrell said. Now, passion for rallying behind communities and serving others is what the university is known for.

In accordance with the Board of Regents’ policies, the search for CU Denver’s next leader begins now. A search committee guided by University of Colorado – Colorado Springs Chancellor Venkat Reddy, CU Denver students, staff, and faculty will gather to create a profile of which values they envision the next Chancellor to embody. Once established, a search firm will get the word out to potential applicants. The field will be narrowed, interviews will be conducted, and the finalist(s) will be brought to campus. CU President Mark Kennedy will confirm a finalist as the new Chancellor of CU Denver.

“There will be a lot of opportunities for campus involvement,” Horrell said. Students who want to join the search can reach out to Student Government throughout the process.

When Horrell retires once more, she looks forward to traveling with her husband to visit her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in San Antonio, Texas. From there, she hopes to travel internationally, with her sights set on Spain and Portugal. She also plans to practice playing the piano while home.

For now, she plans to continue on her mission of elevating the student experience and ensuring their values impact the world. 

“That gives me great hope,” Horrell said.

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