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College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Records

Identifier: U006


This collection contains the records the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences from 1984 on. The College of Arts and Sciences (collection U007) was dissolved in 1984 and became the Division of Arts and Humanities until 2018. Collection contains slides from D. U. Program: “King and Queens,” “High C’s,” office files, bound print-outs from Banner containing the financial records for various Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) academic units and the dean's office for the fiscal years of 1995, 1996, and 1997. Several binders also include chronological files from FY 1997. The chronological files include memoranda, correspondence, invoices, receipts, account lists, as well as multiple additional document genres.


  • Majority of material found within 1984-


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Biographical / Historical

The University of Denver’s College of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1942. At the time it comprised of 13 schools and divisions that spanned from the humanities and social sciences to the “hard sciences” and several professional schools such as the School of Business and the School of Education. The goal of the College of Arts and Sciences from its inception was to create a community where students could receive a strong liberal arts education while connecting with professors in a small classroom setting.

The early years of the College of Arts and Sciences saw many administrative changes; 1945 saw the foundation of the Center for Students Abroad, a support center for international students attending the university. In 1946, the Division of Home Economics was established. While the program did not offer a degree, it did provide elective courses in cooking, sewing, and other household services that were considered of interest to female students. In 1947, the School of Art approved a Master of Fine Arts in Painting. The first M.F.A. offered by the University of Denver, this program offered students the opportunity to expand their arts education and even become qualified to teach art courses at a collegiate level.

During the midcentury, cultural shifts within higher education as well as the broad scope of the College led to an entire restructuring and recentering of programs. The Division of Home Economics was discontinued due to low enrollment in 1953. At the same time, the only Classics professor retired, and so the Department of Classical Studies was also discontinued that year. In 1960, the School of Nursing was also discontinued. In addition, the Department of Basic Communication, a department for first-year communications courses, was dissolved in 1963. The department was absorbed into the School of Education and the English and Speech departments as curriculum fit. However, this period was not all loss: in 1960 the University also celebrated the move of the School of Art to the University Park Campus, where it remains today. These decisions helped to better define the College of Arts and Sciences and better serve the interests of its students.

The first half of the 1970s triggered another round of reorganization, this time mainly focused on the newly relocated School of Art. The BFA programs for interior design and advertising design were dropped from the curriculum, as well as the Master of Arts in Art Education, between 1969 and 1975. This was also a time for the College to respond to the ever-globalizing world its students would enter. In 1971, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures began offering Chinese courses, in addition to the pre-existing curriculum of Spanish, French, and German. In 1975, the Pre-Engineering Program was established as a two-year program for future engineers.

Despite the university expressing financial distress, the College of Arts and Sciences pushed forward in its final decade. In 1980, a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science was established, as well as a joint PhD program in Religious Studies in cooperation with Iliff School of Theology. In addition, 1980 saw the return of the School of Nursing, which had previously been a Baccalaureate program since the organizational changes twenty years prior. 1982 saw the establishment of the Master of Arts degree in History and Preservation, moving the discipline toward a holistic approach to the practice of history.

1983 saw several elements of growth as well. In that year, The New College was established for continuing education and non-traditional aged students. The New College, established as part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offered Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in generalized subjects such as “Liberal Arts” and “Special Studies” that allowed for these students with unique needs to shape their degree into something that benefited their own path. The American Studies program was also replaced with a Women’s Studies program in 1983 to address the growing cultural demand for such study.

Unfortunately, in 1984, Chancellor Smith abruptly dissolved the College of Arts and Sciences, in a decision that appears to be made virtually overnight. According to a memo sent to College faculty on August 29, 1984 by Dean Kenneth Purcell, it appears that Purcell was given roughly twenty-four hours to notify staff and faculty of the organizational change. In fact, it would seem given Purcell’s September 10 piece “Setting the Record Straight” that the changes made between August 30 and September 1 were extremely controversial. Chancellor Smith cited low enrollment and financial problems as the force behind his decision, but according to Purcell, the dissolution of the College of Arts and Science was a political decision by the Chancellor to disband College faculty who did not agree with his or the previous Chancellor’s policies.

Immediately following the dissolution of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Arts and Humanities (sometimes referred to as the Division of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences) was established with William Zaranka as Dean. The Division of Arts and Humanities persisted through 2018. In 2018, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences united many of the same departments that operated under the Division in an effort to build an interdisciplinary, liberal arts education for undergraduate students.


61.75 Linear Feet (62 containers)