Chester M. Alter Papers
Chester M. Alter served as Chancellor of the University of Denver (DU) for 14 years, from 1953 until 1967, the second longest tenure of a chancellor at DU. The collection includes Alter's professional and personal papers, photographs, awards and memorabilia.
- Other: 1906-2006
- Alter, Chester M., 1906-2006 (Person)
63 Linear Feet (64 boxes and about 6 linear ft of oversize and unboxed material)
Scope and Contents
Biographical / Historical
Chester M. Alter was born in 1906 in rural Indiana. He received a B.S. from Ball State University, an M.A. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1936. During World War II, he was recruited from his job at Boston University to work on the Manhattan Project. Alter served as Chancellor of the University of Denver for 14 years, from 1953 until 1967, the second longest tenure of a chancellor at DU. After leaving DU in 1967, he continued to be associated with the University as Chancellor Emeritus. He also served as a trustee in such organizations as the Gates Foundation, Central City Opera Association, the YMCA, and as the sole trustee for the George W. Clayton Trust. He has been on the board of directors of almost every educational institution in the Front Range, and has served as consultant to institutions of higher education in Korea, Malaysia and Brazil. He was a section and a division chairman of the American Chemical Society and was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
His influence has been felt throughout the State of Colorado in such organizations as the Colorado Board of Ethics, the Colorado Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, the Colorado Expenditures Council, and the Judicial Advisory Council of the Colorado Supreme Court. He was the first non-lawyer to be an officer of the American Judicature Society, and was honored by its Justice Award in 1980.
During his tenure at the University of Denver, he oversaw the transformation of the University from a local institution to an internationally known one. He raised faculty salaries and was instrumental in bringing in outstanding scholars as visiting professors, such as Arnold Toynbee, and speakers such as U Thant and Averill Harriman. He also increased the volume of sponsored research at the University. He saw the University campus expand from 75 to 125 acres, and was responsible for many construction projects, including residence halls, a Law Center, and a science and engineering center. The Chester M. Alter Arboretum at the University of Denver recognizes his work in maintaining the character of the campus.
Alter was married to Arvilla Morrison in 1933. They have one son, Richard David Alter, born in 1939. Until her death in 1997, Arvilla Alter was involved in her husband’s work in education. After his wife's death, Alter continued to be involved with the University of Denver and the community. Chester Alter passed away in 2006.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Description rules