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History exhibit recognizes impact of DU community members

Cleo Parker Robinson

A new exhibit at the History Colorado Center recognizes Coloradans who have made an impact on the state through their lives and work —i ncluding four members of the University of Denver community.

Joining well-known Coloradans such as musician John Denver, Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, former mayor Federico Peña and Denver Bronco Von Miller are DU Chancellor Emeritus Dan Ritchie, alumni Grant Wilkins and Lisa Tessarowicz, and dancer Cleo Parker Robinson, a graduate of the DU-affiliated Colorado Women’s College.

What’s Your Story?,” which opened Oct. 19, occupies 2,000 square feet and includes such multimedia features as creation stations for digital posters, Buzzfeed-style quizzes and a photo booth. Visitors can explore more than 100 objects and meet 101 influential Coloradans, including entrepreneurs, athletes, activists and scientists.

“We really wanted this to represent a diverse array of people who have made an impact in Colorado, across time and across the state,” says Julie Peterson, lead developer of the exhibit. “We thought through every kind of category that we could think of, whether it was entrepreneurship or civic engagement or the arts. We wanted our visitors to see themselves reflected in the people that we chose.” 

Dan Ritchie served as DU’s chancellor from 1989–2005. He oversaw a $274 million fundraising campaign that spurred numerous capital improvements on campus. 

Cleo Parker Robinson has multiple DU ties. Not only is she a graduate of Colorado Women’s College, but her father, Jonathan “J.P.” Parker, was a longtime facilities manager at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Robinson’s eponymous dance company, which she has operated in Denver since 1970, attempts to educate audiences about black culture through a dance school, a summer dance institute and national and international performances. 

Lisa Tessarowicz (BSBA ’03) is the co-founder of Colorado Springs-based Epicentral Coworking, which allows entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants and telecommuters to use conference rooms, desks and office space for a daily or monthly price.

Polio survivor Grant Wilkins (BA ’47), who died in May 2018, dedicated his life to eradicating the disease. For more than two decades he traveled the globe raising money for PolioPlus, a Rotary International Program aimed at eliminating the disease. He also distributed vaccines in the countries he visited. 

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