By Bruce Hallmark (M.S., ’04)

At the heart of the Oval lies a monument honoring individuals and organizations with $1 million or more of lifetime giving to Colorado State University. Each of the engraved bricks in the sidewalk commemorates a personal story of generosity and its power to change lives and make our world a better place.

This year, six new bricks have been added to the Oval Donor Walk, each of which tells its own story of transformative impact on our students, programs, or facilities that advance and strengthen our University in countless ways:

  • The Bender Foundation
  • Leslie Buttorff
  • Gen Kato
  • Merrill and Elizabeth Koster
  • Nutrien
  • John and Sophie Ottens Foundation

Fueling research and opportunity

Honorees recognized with a brick on the Oval have funded scholarships, programs, buildings, and other ventures across the campus. Leslie Buttorff (B.S., ’79) exemplifies this level of long-term commitment and broad-based generosity. In 2016, she created the Leslie Cavarra Buttorff Scholarship in Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences for Denver-area students.

Panacea Life Sciences CEO and Colorado State University Alumnus Leslie Buttorff, poses at Panacea’s facility in Golden, Colo., January 17, 2020.

A year later, she founded and became the CEO of Panacea Life Sciences, a Golden, Colorado-based company producing medical products derived from cannabinoids, a class of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, for humans and pets.

True to her green-and-gold roots, Buttorff made another, very generous gift in 2019 – $1.5 million to establish the Panacea Life Sciences Cannabinoid Research Center to address key challenges in cannabinoid research, including separation efficiencies, formulation of cannabinoids, efficacy testing, and the development of standard analysis practices. This endeavor will generate academic and professional opportunities for CSU faculty and students for decades to come.

“We’re conducting some exciting research projects,” Buttorff said. “I think it’s important for people in industry to stay involved and help find ways to advance the University.”

Being honored on the Oval Donor Walk is less about recognition for Buttorff and more about following her passions. “I am very excited and feel privileged to be on that walk. I’m glad I was able to donate to CSU because it provided me so many opportunities in my career. I hope when people walk by and see my name, they think, ‘What can I do to make CSU a better place?’”

Acknowledging immense generosity

In 2012, as the first comprehensive fundraising campaign was drawing to a successful conclusion, University Advancement and the Office of the President wanted to honor its most generous donors. At the time, there was no physical, on-campus recognition of donors who had given $1 million or more, and the seven-year campaign had raised significant support from donors giving at that level. The project also provided a great opportunity to recognize past donors whose gifts helped shape the University’s growing culture of philanthropy and provided the foundation for the campaign.

The CSU Oval was selected as the location to honor the extraordinary legacies of generosity, and a flat, sidewalk installation was chosen to complement the ambience and perennial appeal of that iconic space. For durability and versatility, the names of donors were laser-engraved into bricks inlaid into the sidewalk, which also facilitated the addition of new donor bricks in future years.

According to David Hansen, University landscape architect in Facilities Management, the materials chosen for the design also gave a nod to green and gold. “We use a blond brick made at a factory in Ohio that matches much of this historic brick in the architecture around the Oval, and the border and centerpiece is a green slate from Vermont.”

The unveiling and inauguration of the monument was held Sept. 21, 2012. The inscription in the center reads: “In recognition of Colorado State University’s most generous benefactors, with gratitude for opening doors, changing lives, and transforming our world. – Anthony A. Frank, President; September 21, 2012.” Each brick represents lifetime giving of $1 million or more, and the key symbol on about 40 bricks denotes gifts made during the Campaign for Colorado State University, which ran from July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2012.

“The Oval is where all our paths cross – current students, prospective students, alumni – beneath the inspiring canopy of American elms,” said Matthew Helmer, assistant vice president of University Advancement, who was an integral part of creating the Donor Oval Walk. “If you’ve ever tried to plan an event on the Oval – much less install a permanent monument – you quickly realize how sacred this ground is to CSU. The Oval Walk is a testament to the transformational impact those donors and their gifts had, and continue to have, on the very essence of who we are as a University.”