CU Names Building for Former RMAG President Bruce Curtis

Title: CU Names Building for Former RMAG President Bruce Curtis

Author: Matthew R. Silverman

Publication: The Outcrop, July 2002, p. 21

The University of Colorado at Boulder recently granted geology Professor Emeritus Bruce Curtis a rare honor. On April 5, CU’s new $6.1 million museum collections building was re-named the Bruce Curtis Building in a dedication ceremony attended by many RMAG members. Formerly the Geology Building, the renovated structure is now part of the University’s Museum of Natural History. Bruce and Marcy Benson donated generously toward the project, and in honor of this gift, the building was re-named for Benson’s mentor at CU.

Bruce Curtis in front of the building that bears his name.

Curtis profoundly affected the careers and lives of many petroleum geologists in the Rockies. Through decades of service at CU, in the oil industry, and to RMAG, he educated, mentored and led hundreds of students and professionals. Curtis is a former President (1956) and an Honorary Member of RMAG; he also authored and edited several important RMAG volumes, including the 1958 RMAG Guidebook on the Pennsylvanian.

A Denver native, Curtis completed his graduate studies in Geology at CU and Harvard, following service in the Navy in World War II. He worked as Rockies Regional Exploration Manager for Conoco until 1957, when he began three decades of teaching and research at CU. During that period he taught subsurface methods, geology of organic fuels, and related subjects to two generations of undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Curtis directed scores of graduate theses, many focused on E & P topics that are still vital today. He served as chair of the Geological Sciences Department from 1961 to 1967. Curtis retired in 1983 and lives in Boulder.

Benson and Curtis spoke at the ceremony, and were joined by Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Philip DiStefano, RMAG’s current President, John Robinson, and the museum’s Director, Linda Cordell. Curtis charmed the audience with stories about the history of the building. In a memorable account, he remembered that it was in this building that he first heard of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The 44,000-square-foot renovated building, which opened for classes in January 2002, houses the Museum and Field Studies graduate program and more than 3 million specimens from the Museum’s extensive collection. The building includes five classrooms, three of which are “smart” classrooms, several laboratories and collection libraries, a walk-in freezer for specimen decontamination, and a casting lab to replicate paleontological items. The Curtis Building brought together the museum’s biology and paleontology collections for the first time. It gives students access to the most extensive library of natural diversity in Colorado. The Bruce Curtis Building is located at Broadway and College Avenue on the CU-Boulder campus, and is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

For information regarding tours, etc., contact David Bloom, telephone 303-492-4458, email