By Erica Boniface, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Staff
As individuals, they do amazing things – but as a pair, Bruce and Marcy Benson are absolutely unstoppable. During Bruce’s tenure as the President of the University of Colorado from 2008-2019, they tackled big changes together.
“What impresses me most about Bruce and Marcy is their devotion to each other, and the loving support each gives to the other,” writes Denver journalist, Joanne Davidson. “Their marriage is a true partnership, and you rarely, if ever, see one out and about without the other – and each is the other’s biggest cheerleader. The multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns for CU, when Bruce was president from 2008-2019, were as successful as they were because of Marcy.”
In 2011, we recognized Bruce and Marcy with our “Community Service” award during our Annual Awards Luncheon. They’re skilled problem solvers, adept coalition builders, and consummate fundraisers who have given generously and tirelessly of their time, talent and treasure for the betterment of Coloradans – and we wanted to pay tribute to them for giving so much to their communities.
Bruce recently stepped down as the president at CU, so we wanted to catch up with the duo to see what they’ve been up to – and congratulate them for being recognized as Citizens of the West in 2020.
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation: Bruce, what is your most cherished memory at CU?
Bruce: Without question it would be working with such an outstanding staff. I was very proud of the staff we assembled and how many great things we were able to accomplish together. We all worked hard and we had the same objectives and goals. I looked at them as family.
BSF: What are you most proud of from your time at CU?
Bruce: I am most proud of changing the culture at CU. It is incredibly important that there be collaboration within each campus and collaboration among all four campuses. The second part of culture change is promoting freedom of expression and diversity of thought. My mantra has been that we must teach students how to think, not what to think.
BSF: Marcy – What part of your job as CU’s First Lady did you enjoy the most?
Marcy: It would have to be the incredible diversity of people I was privileged to interact with. It was inspiring to meet researchers who were so intensely dedicated to finding cures for diseases. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Dr. Huntington Potter at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. He is in the middle of a promising clinical trial to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Since my mother died of Alzheimer’s, that one is the most important one to me. Additionally, there were so many donors who we enjoyed getting to know. It is inspiring to see how many people want to invest in improving the lives of others – often giving their time and money to help people they will never meet. And, of course, the staff at CU was just the best. I was grateful for them every day.
BSF: What does being named Citizens of the West 2020 mean to you?
Bruce and Marcy: This award is such an honor so we were obviously incredibly flattered. The best part is that we are getting it together, that means the world to us. And we are very grateful to all the people who worked with us on projects throughout the years. Without them we would never have gotten this award. It’s also an honor to be in the company of previous award winners, all of whom are incredibly accomplished and have made a big impact on our community, state and the West.
BSF: Care to share any secrets to happy marriage or your favorite part of being grandparents:
Bruce and Marcy: Our marriage is strong because in addition to still being in love after 26 years of marriage, we have enormous respect for each other, we don’t sweat the small stuff and we put each other first.
The best thing about having grandchildren is watching them accomplish so much in school – in the classroom and in sports. We love spending time with all of them – not only are they fun to be around, but they also are such genuinely nice people!
BSF: Since being named as Community Service Award in 2011, what have been your favorite projects?
Bruce and Marcy: CU is such a big, complicated, far-flung and consuming place that we have not had time to be involved with anything else. But you could look at CU as a community project since the University does have a major impact on the entire community and state.
BSF: How has your life changed since leaving CU?
Bruce and Marcy: The two biggest changes have been not being in a hurry all the time and being able to control our own schedule.
BSF: What’s next?
Bruce and Marcy: We haven’t figured that out yet, but it will likely be something aimed at making positive changes on our community and state. For now, we’re still enjoying the respite from the 24/7 world of CU. Stay tuned!