Henry A. Buchtel (1847-1924) was the University of Denver’s third chancellor, serving for 21 years from 1899-1920. He followed the chancellorship of William McDowell and preceded Chancellor Heber Reece Harper.
Henry Augustus Buchtel was born on November 30, 1847 in the small town of East Liberty near Akron, Ohio. Following his graduation from Asbury University (now DePauw) Buchtel was trained as a minister. After presiding over congregations as a pastor in Indiana, Denver, and New York state, he was recruited back to Denver to take on the chancellorship of the University of Denver.
Chancellor Buchtel entered DU during a time of serious financial problems, with the future of the university in question. As the university’s new chancellor he was tasked with the enormous responsibility of turning around the school’s finances. During his 21 year chancellorship at DU Buchtel pursued his vision of creating a “Harvard of the West” by not only keeping the school afloat but expanding the campus and the university’s academic programs.
Chancellor Buchtel devoted much of his time to his successful fundraising efforts, traveling around Colorado and beyond engaging donors. Thanks to his tireless fundraising the University grew in both student enrollment and physical structures. Under Buchtel’s leadership the university built two Carnegie-funded buildings including a new library and a new science building. Student enrollment increased from 640 upon his arrival in 1900 to 2,780 prior to his departure in 1920.
Henry Buchtel was also the University of Denver’s only chancellor to make the journey from University Park to the governor’s office in the state Capitol building. Governor Buchtel held this office for one two-year term, from 1907-1909, during which he governed both the state of Colorado and the University of Denver.
Henry Buchtel resigned the chancellorship in 1920 and died four years later on October 22, 1924.
Breck, Allen. From the Rockies to the World: The History of the University of Denver, 2nd ed. (Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, 1997.)
Biographical Files: Henry A. Buchtel, Special Collections (Denver: University of Denver University Libraries).
Chancellor Robert Coombe (1948-) has been at the University of Denver since 1981, becoming DU’s 17th chancellorship in July of 2005. He previously served DU as a chemistry professor.
Robert Coombe was born in 1948 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Denver. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Williamstown, MA and then receive his doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. After completing his studies he was employed as a researcher at the University of Toronto and then at Rockwell International’s corporate laboratory in Thousand Oaks, California. He arrived at the University of Denver as a chemistry professor in 1981.
University of Denver Career
When Dr. Coombe first returned to Denver to teach at DU, he taught a variety of science courses including graduate and undergraduate courses in physical chemistry, quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and advanced kinetics and molecular dynamics. While a faculty member he took on a number of leadership roles including chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, dean of the Division of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, and provost of the University. He began his appointment as 17th chancellor of the University of Denver on July 1, 2005.
Chancellor Coombe has managed a number of important developments at DU. Under his chancellorship in 2010 the university became one of a select few to ban smoking on campus. Impressive new buildings have been constructed during his tenure at DU including Nagel Hall (2008) and the new Anderson Academic Commons (2013), which houses the university’s library and other academic services.
Apart from his work at the University, Dr. Coombe serves as a member of the Higher Education Working Group of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the boards of Colorado Forum, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the University of Denver-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
The father of two children and grandfather of six, Dr. Coombe’s principal avocations are associated with the arts and the outdoors. He is a devoted amateur musician who plays the cello as well as a number of brass instruments. He and his wife Dr. Julanna Gilbert, who is a chemistry professor at the University as well as a talented violinist, enjoy playing in informal chamber ensembles.
Chancellor’s Biography, University of Denver Office of the Chancellor. http://www.du.edu/chancellor/chancellorbio/
Robert Coombe. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coombe