Trend Lines: At CU Denver Business School, a new
Center for Commodities
The Rocky Mountain West is the epicenter for myriad commodities, from agriculture and metals to traditional and renewable energy. Yet as George Solich ('83, '91) notes, there's a shortage of university programs that prepare business leaders for diverse commodities fields.
"Whether it's copper or oil or gold or corn," Solich says, "they're all very significant parts of the economy. No one offers a well-rounded education related to these businesses."
George Solich (above, with family)
is one of the CU Buffs' most
impassioned supporters. So Solich, Cordillera Energy Partners CEO, approached CU Denver Business School Dean Sueann Ambron with the idea to launch a Center for Commodities at the school. A dean with an eye for innovation, Ambron talked with a few people, decided "this idea has legs," and asked Solich to fund a feasibility study to explore it further.
To his surprise, he found no existing university commodity programs that matched his vision. "We found three or four schools that focused on energy, but none with a holistic look at commodities and what they mean to the global economy," Solich says. "It showed there was a great need, and underscored that we should take the next step. This was one of those 'Eureka' moments."
So George and colleague Tad Herz pledged $500,000 toward the creation of the Center for Commodities. Their commitment has sparked others, including a major in-kind software gift from CQG.
Synergies Close at Hand
The center will realize synergies with such innovative Business School programs as the Global Energy Management (GEM) program and the Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) program, and will engage students and faculty in economics, political science, mathematics, and other disciplines. The center's topical breadth and the Business School's downtown Denver location are ideal for industry partnerships and sponsorships.
Future plans include establishing a student-managed fund that will allow students to make real investing decisions with oversight from top financial advisors. Ultimately, Solich hopes the center will lead to an endowed chair and education that spans undergraduate, graduate, and executive cohorts.
Solich hopes the center will quickly become known as "best in class" and a recognized highlight of CU. "When you think of CU, you think about Buffaloes, Nobel Laureates, astronauts, the Flatirons… I want people to also think, 'This is where the commodities world intersects with higher education.'"
As an alumnus of two campuses and a supporter of three, Solich—a former recipient of the Evans Scholarship—has rare CU passion and perspective. Many know him as a major supporter of CU-Boulder athletics, but his appreciation for CU transcends category. "Whether it's the CU Denver Business School, or Buffs athletics, all this works together," he says. "I want my university to shine."