Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines, at Golden; state supported, coeducational; chartered 1874. It was one of the first mineral engineering schools in the United States. It owns extensive experimental and research facilities, field laboratories, and an experimental mine at Idaho Springs.

See J. R. Morgan, A World School: The Colorado School of Mines (1955).

The Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science located in the town of Golden, Colorado. The school was originally founded in 1873 by the Episcopal Church, but in 1874 it was transferred to the Territory of Colorado. It became a state institution when Colorado attained statehood in 1876. Its mascot is Blaster the Burro, the Athletic teams are the Orediggers and its logo designed by architect Jacques Benedict is inside a Reuleaux triangle or Reuleaux tetrahedron.

Early history

Golden, Colorado, established in 1859 as Golden City, served as a supply center for miners and settlers in the area. In 1866, Bishop George Maxwell Randall of Massachusetts arrived in the territory and, seeing a need for higher education facilities in the area, began planning for a university which would include a school of mines. In 1870, he opened the Jarvis Hall collegiate school in the central building of the Colorado University Schools campus just south of the town of Golden, accompanied it with Matthews Hall divinity school in 1872, and in 1873 the School of Mines opened under the auspices of the Episcopal Church in charge of Edward J. Mallet Jr.. In 1874 the School of Mines, supported by the territorial government since efforts began in 1870, was acquired by the territory and has been a state institution since 1876 when Colorado attained statehood.

The first building on the current site of the school was built in 1880 with additions completed in 1882 and 1890. The building, known as "Chemistry Hall," stood where Hill Hall is now located. The next building to be added to the campus was Engineering Hall built in 1894 which is still in use today by the Economics and Business Division.

Other firsts include the first Board of Trustees meeting held in 1879; the first formal commencement held in 1883 for two graduates (William Beebe Middleton and Walter Howard Wiley); the first international student graduated in 1889; and the first female student graduated in 1898. In 1906 Mines became the first school of its kind in the world to own and operate its own experimental mine, designed for practical teaching of the students, which was located on Mt. Zion and succeeded in the 1930s by the Edgar Mine. In 1879, there was some discussion about merging School of Mines and the State University in Boulder (University of Colorado at Boulder). Apparently, because of the specialized focus of School of Mines, it was decided that such a merger would not be appropriate. During the early years of the institution the chief administrator was the "Professor in Charge." The designation President was first used in 1880. The "M" on Mt. Zion, a prominent feature in the Golden area, was constructed in 1908 and lighted in 1932.

Early academic departments were drafting, physics, metallurgy, chemistry and mining. In the 1920s, departments formed in geology, petroleum engineering and geophysics. Petroleum refining was added in 1946. The Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies and the Department of Physical Education and Athletics provide nontechnical educational opportunities for Mines students. Other facilities include: Ben Parker Student Center, Arthur Lakes Library, Green Center and the Edgar Mine which is located in Idaho Springs.


The Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It has the highest admissions standards of any public state university in Colorado. Mines has distinguished itself by developing a curriculum and research program that is geared toward responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources. In addition to strong education and research programs in traditional fields of science and engineering, Mines is one of a very few institutions in the world having broad expertise in resource exploration, extraction, production and utilization. As such, Mines occupies an unusual position among the world's institutions of higher education.

The school recently completed the process of building a new student recreation center, and expanding its main computer center, the Center for Technology and Learning Media (CTLM). In May 2008 the school completed construction and installation of a new supercomputer nicknamed "Ra" in the CTLM managed by the Golden Energy Computing Organization (GECO), a partnership between the Colorado School of Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation.

On June 19th, 2006, Dr. Bill Scoggins took office as the 16th president of the school, replacing the retiring Dr. John Trefney, who held the position since 2000.

The school operates one of the country's most prestigious geology museums. The museum displays rock and mineral specimens collected from Colorado's numerous mining districts as well as around the world. The museum's exhibits include specimens from the Frank Allison gold and silver collection, part of the famous Nininger meteorite collection, and Sweet Home Mine rhodochrosite, as well as a model uranium mine and various pieces of mining related art.

The school also maintains one of the oldest mountain monograms in the United States. Perched on Mount Zion above the campus, every evening, the stone monument of the school's M logo is illuminated and can be seen from miles away. During holidays and special occasions, such as finals week, the structure is illuminated different colors and patterns to reflect the season. Also, every year during the first week of school, the bravest of the incoming freshmen class hike up to the "M" and contribute a 10 pound rock to the formation and apply a fresh coating of whitewash. Several attempts have been made to demolish the M with explosives, which in at least one case led to expulsions.

One case in particular was on November 6, 1919 when students from Denver University (DU) planned a trip up to Mt. Zion to paint the M crimson and gold (DU's school colors). Mines students got word of this attempt before hand and were waiting on the road with pistols drawn. Rumor has it shots were fired but no one was hurt. Instead the students were paraded down to Stratton hall, relieved of their hair and an "M" was conspicuously painted on each forehead with silver nitrate and the captives were later were paraded around Golden wearing white jumpers with blue M's.

When Bill Blass, a Denver Post reporter slammed the Mines students for their outrageous conduct and unacceptable behavior. In response the students called the Post and asked for Blass to come out and see the real Mines and that he was misinformed about what Mines was all about. Meanwhile, they also put in a call to the Rocky Mountain News to send a reporter and a photographer for a "great story". Upon arriving, Bill Blass was taken prisoner, relieved of his hair as well and outfitted in "mines diggers" while the News team captured all the color for their paper.

Currently the "M" is undergoing an update to bring it into line with the "green energy" focus the Governor has envisioned for all state institutions. All 1553 light bulbs that make up the M are switching from incandescent to LED. This will save Mines hundreds of dollars on electrical costs and pave the way to eventually power the "M" using only solar energy. To commemorate the switch to LED bulbs, Steven Meyerhoff and Brad Bettag, both members of Blue Key Honor Society have worked in conjunction with the Homecoming Committee to have an event planned for Homecoming weekend October 3rd, 2008. At approximately 6:50 P.M MDT, the M will glow a bright LED white for the first time in it's history for all of Golden and the world to see.

Mines is the host of the annual Colorado State Science Olympiad, which draws teams from both the northern regional (hosted at Poudre High School) and southern regional (hosted at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) competitions. One or two teams usually advance to the national finals, depending on the number of teams registered to compete. Mines also hosts the Colorado Regional Science Bowl, and shares hosting of the Colorado State MathCounts Competition with University of Denver, alternating biennially.


Colorado School of Mines ranked 33rd among the Top 50 Public National Universities, and 75th among all American Universities in 2008. This ranking from the 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report 's America's Best Colleges, was higher than any other institution of higher learning in Colorado.


The Colorado School of Mines campus presents one of the most distinctive and historically significant collections of academic buildings in Colorado. As an unofficial rule throughout its history Mines buildings have been designed in the latest styles and technology since its very first one, reflecting the technical nature of the school. Their design across time has spanned a spectrum of styles from Second Empire to Postmodernist, created by noted Colorado architectural masters including Robert S. Roeschlaub (Hall of Engineering), Jacques Benedict (Steinhauer Field House), and Temple Hoyne Buell (Berthoud Hall). To date two main academic buildings are gone (original Territorial School of Mines, 1871-93; Hall of Chemistry, 1880-1958), while the present campus includes:

  • Alderson Hall
    • Chemical Engineering
    • Petroleum Engineering
  • Berthoud Hall
    • Geology and Geological Engineering
  • Brown Hall (Building)
    • Engineering (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, undergraduate Environmental)
    • Mining Engineering
  • Chauvenet Hall
    • Mathematical & Computer Sciences
  • Coolbaugh Hall
    • Chemistry and Geochemistry
    • Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Center for Technology and Learning Media (CTLM)
    • Academic Computing and Networking
  • Engineering Hall
    • Economics and Business
  • General Research Laboratory and Geology Museum
  • Green Center
    • Geophysics
    • GC Office of Events
  • Guggenheim Hall
    • President's Office
    • Administrative Offices

  • Hall of Justice (the former Jefferson County judicial building)
    • Building Closed in December 2006, it is pending asbestos remediation and demolition
  • Hill Hall
    • Materials Science
    • Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
  • Arthur Lakes Library
    • Library
  • Meyer Hall
    • Physics
  • Recreation Center
  • Stratton Hall
    • Liberal Arts and International Studies
    • Mathematical & Computer Sciences (not primary location)
  • Student Center
    • Admissions & Financial Aid
    • Bookstore
    • Registrar
    • Student Life
  • Student Health Center
  • U.S Geological Survey
  • Volk Gymnasium
    • Physical Education and Athletics

Major open-air athletic facilities of the Colorado School of Mines include historic Brooks Field and Darden Field.

The honorary named Colorado School of Mines buildings commemorate Dr. Victor C. Alderson, Edward L. Berthoud, George R. Brown, Dr. Regis Chauvenet, Dr. Melville F. Coolbaugh, Cecil H. and Ida Green, Simon Guggenheim, Nathaniel P. Hill, Arthur Lakes, Dr. Paul D. Meyer, Winfield S. Stratton, and Russell K. Volk.

List of majors

List of Presidents

  • A. Edward J. Mallett Jr. - 1873*
  • B. Gregory Board - 1875*
  • C. Milton Moss - 1878*
  • 1. Albert C. Hale - 1880**
  • 2. Regis Chauvenet - 1883
  • 3. Charles S. Palmer - 1902
  • 4a. Victor C. Alderson - 1903***
  • 5. William G. Haldane - 1913
  • 6. William B. Phillips - 1915
  • 7. Howard C. Parmelee - 1916

  • 4b. Victor C. Alderson - 1917***
  • 8. Melville F. Coolbaugh - 1925
  • 9. Ben H. Parker - 1946
  • 10. John W Vanderwilt - 1950
  • 11. Orlo E. Childs - 1963
  • 12. Guy T. McBride, Jr. - 1970
  • 13. George S. Ansell - 1984
  • 14. Theodore A. Bickart - 1998
  • 15. John U. Trefny - 2000
  • 16. Myles W. Scoggins- 2006

Notes: * Professor in Charge
          ** Began as Professor in Charge, became the first President
          *** Served as President Twice


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