The past and present of Regis University, a storied institution

9NEWS @ 5. 3/5/2017

DENVER - In the northwest corner of Denver sits the Regis/Berkeley neighborhood. The area is chock-full with history, especially since it's home to Regis University.

#9Neighborhoods: A walk through the Regis neighborhood in Denver

History

Regis University hasn’t always been Regis University. It started as College of the Sacred Heart, in Morrison, Colo. before moving to its current location, and changing its name to Regis College.

Years later, Regis College would become known as Regis University.

Forty acres of the land the school stands on in northwestern Denver was donated by a man named John Brisben Walker in the late 1800s.

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“And then the Jesuits all came up to Denver and there was a man who had a bunch of land in Morrison, Colorado up near where Red Rocks is now,” retired Regis University Professor Dennis Gallagher said. “He gave them a building and land for Regis, which started then, I believe it was 1888 that they came here to Colorado.”

“[The Jesuits] sort of outgrew it real quickly and he said 'oh well I have a subdivision in Denver called Berkeley. If you come down there I’ll give you 40 acres in Denver.'"

From that day, Regis’ Main Hall was built in 90 days, and stands tall to this day.

In the 1920s, a strong anti-Catholic sentiment caused Sacred Heart to change their name to Regis College. It also didn’t help the newspapers loved to play with the name in their headlines.

“The press in town loved playing around with the name Sacred Heart,” Gallagher said. “Because when the sports teams would play Cathedral for example -- 'Cathedral rips Sacred Heart. Or crushes Sacred Heart.'”

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Jesuit school allowed women to enroll.

Now, the university boasts about 16,000 students, close to 60 percent of them being female.

Santo Collection

Unique to campus, nestled on the third floor of the library, you’ll find the rotating Santo Collection.

Santos are images of saints, traditionally carved or painted on wood.

“The Santo Collection at Regis was started by Father Steele who was a professor of English in Regis College and it start actually in 1966, when he was still working on his PhD at the University of New Mexico.” Tom Riedel said, curator of the Santo Collection. “The collection grew out of Father Steele’s own funds over the course of about 10 years to about 60 objects. At that time, the value of the collection was in conflict with his vow of poverty as a Jesuit Priest, so he donated it to Regis College at that time.”

Today, the collection is home to thousands of Santos that rotate in and out of the exhibit on campus.

It’s open to the public during library hours, which are 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. most days.

Regis Neighborhood Health

One of the biggest ways Regis University connects with their surrounding community is with the Regis Neighborhood Health program, just one piece of the university’s Cultivate Health initiative.

Regis Neighborhood Health opened their doors two years ago. The main focuses: healthy eating, healthy living and health care services.

“Regis Neighborhood health really focuses on that integrated care model.” James Nash said, director of Regis Neighborhood Health. “We have a team of professionals that includes not only physical therapists and care providers, but also a clinical pharmacist and behavior health providers.”

The program is essentially one-stop shopping for most things health care needed.

“We try to look at the World Health Organization’s definition of health,” Nash said. “Which is looking at mind, body and social well-being, and not just when somebody’s sick. We’re really trying to help their health and the times when they’re also well.”

“We’re here to serve patients, our neighborhood, our community,” Leticia Shea said, a clinical pharmacist with Regis Neighborhood Health. “We work as a team. I make sure they’re on the safest medication possible for them. The physical therapist helps them attain movement, exercises that can improve their mobility without having to take medication or decrease medication. And our nurse practitioners are making sure everything else is appropriate in their care.”

Cultivate Health is the big health care project at Regis University, working with the community with things like fitness zones in nearby parks, working with schools, and pushing healthy eating by utilizing farm stands in the community.

Blessing Box

In a joint effort, Regis University and Berkeley Church just introduced their Blessing Box.

The concept is similar to that of a Little Free Library; people leave what they can, and take what they need. The box is filled with non-perishable food and toiletry items.

When we talked to one of the minds behind the Blessing Box, Wendi Hansen, she said

“Our hopes that if this box does well, that if our community is really respondent of it, that we can put other boxes around the university and really just cater to the community that benefits they deserve.”

Regis’ marketing department and the student government teamed up to bring the idea to life, with Berkeley Church offering the small amount of space required for the Blessing Box.

Brewing Certificate

In 2015, something pretty cool was born at Regis, their Applied Craft Brewing Certificate.

“We heard John Hickenlooper say that he wanted Denver to be the Napa Valley of beer,” Cath Kleier said, the director of the program. “We thought, this is a really good opportunity, we want to educate people to live and work in the Napa Valley of beer.”

Since then, the program has already exploded in popularity, with wait lists since the first semester it was offered.

The program extends to Goldspot Brewery, where a graduate of the certificate program is now brewing beer for a living.

And if you love beer, but brewing may not be for you, that’s OK.

“They also do a good job of focusing on some of the other jobs in breweries, like marketing, running a business, advertising,"  Matthew Peetz said, who is with the certificate program. "There’s a lot of jobs at a brewery other than being a brewer."

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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