Bruce Benson has made his mark in business, politics, philanthropy, education and civic endeavors. He founded Benson Mineral Group, an oil and gas exploration and production company in 1965, a year after graduating from CU. The company has been involved in real estate, banking, mortgage servicing, cable television, real estate investment trusts, restaurants, trucking, and geothermal power.
Benson was President of University of Colorado from 2008-2019. During his tenure, he restored CU to prominence, quadrupled fundraising, and oversaw record levels of enrollment. One of his guiding principles was that CU should teach students how to think, not what to think.
His many civic endeavors include rebuilding and chairing the Denver Public Schools Foundation, chairing the Denver Zoological Foundation, and The Denver Boy Scouts. Four Colorado governors appointed him to lead education commissions. Benson was the 1994 Republican nominee for governor, served four times as Chairman of the state Republican party and was involved in many Presidential campaigns. He has lead several and varied civic initiatives, fundraising campaigns, and public policy efforts in Denver.
Philanthropy has been a cornerstone of Bruce Benson’s life. Benson has chaired many fundraising drives and has given generously to schools, civic institutions, and many non-profits in Colorado. Among the many things named for him are the Benson Earth Sciences Building and the Benson Center for Western Civilization on the CU Boulder campus.
Benson’s awards include induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame, an Honorary Doctorate from CU and the 2020 Citizen of the West Award with his wife Marcy.
Marcy Benson spent 20 years In Washington, DC before moving to Colorado in 1992. In Washington, she worked for President Reagan in The White House, 1984 campaign and both Inaugural Committees. She was Director of the White House Fellows Program for Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush.
In Colorado, Marcy Benson served on the board of The Children’s Hospital, chaired the board of the Foundation, and was Co-Chair of the campaign that moved the hospital to CU’s Anschutz Campus. She served on the boards of the Denver Public Library and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities.
At CU, the Bensons worked closely together on many projects. They co-chaired two system-wide fundraising campaigns. Marcy Benson was also on the boards of the Alzheimer’s Center and the Health and Wellness Center and served as a board member of the CU Foundation. In 2020, CU gave Marcy Benson an Honorary Doctorate for her service.
The Bensons are avid collectors of art. They are firm believers in supporting the local art community, including galleries and the Denver Art Museum; not only does art add value to one’s surroundings at home, it also adds to the economic benefit of the community. In addition to the collection at BMG, their collection at the Denver residence is American art, early 20th century.
– Legacy Award, Leadership Program of the Rockies, February 2017
– Association of Fundraising Professionals, Colorado Chapter, Outstanding Philanthropists – Marcy and Bruce Benson, November 2016
– Steamboat Institute, “Courage in Education” Award, October 2016
– Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, President’s Award, October 2014
– Western Energy Alliance, Rocky Mountain Hall of Fame Inductee, October 2014
– Bruce D. Benson Predator Ridge exhibit named, 2012
– Denver Zoological Foundation Honorary Lifetime Trustee, 2011
– Bonfils-Stanton Award for Community Service, 2011
– Colorado Business Hall of Fame, Laureates Award, 2009
– Denver Business Journal, Power Book Award; Nonprofits and Foundations Category, 2008
– Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation, Roastee, 2006
– University of Colorado, Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2004
– University of Colorado, Ira C. Rothgerber Award, 2003 (one of two awards ever given)
– Metropolitan State College of Denver, Commencement Speaker, 2002
– University of Colorado Boulder, Alumni Association’s Recognition Award, 2001
– Honorary Police Captain, Denver, 2001
– Independence Institute, David S. D’Evelyn Award for Inspired Leadership, 1999
– Arthritis Foundation Humanitarian Award, 1999
– University of Colorado, University Medal, 1999
– Berkshire School, Distinguished Alumnus Award, 1997
– University of Colorado, Benson Earth Sciences Building, 1997
– Boy Scouts of America – Silver Beaver Award, 1996
– Berkshire School, Benson Commons Building (Student Center), 1992
– ARCS Foundation Inc., Man of the Year, 1991
– Adams State College, Distinguished Executive in Business, 1989