News: CCU Dedicates Donnithorne Great Hall

CCU Dedicates Donnithorne Great Hall

Honoring A Lifetime Of Service: The Dedication of the Fran and Larry Donnithorne Great Hall

A transformational season of Colorado Christian University's history was commemorated on April 23, 2024, when the institution came together to honor Dr. Larry Donnithorne and his wife, Fran.

The Fran and Larry Donnithorne Great Hall was officially dedicated, a tribute to their life of service. Attendees important to CCU’s history, including current and former administrators, trustees, and faculty, joined the Donnithornes' four children and their spouses, friends, alumni, current students, and local dignitaries to honor Larry and Fran.

“Dr. D.,” as Dr. Donnithorne was affectionately known by students, served as CCU president from 1998 to 2006. He and Fran were lauded for their Christlikeness, dedication to the university's growth, and deep commitment to Christ-centered higher education. Donnithorne was named President Emeritus upon his retirement in 2006 after leading one of the most significant periods of growth in University history.

Throughout his tenure, Donnithorne led with integrity and worked tirelessly to ensure that CCU provided an education rooted deeply in integrating faith and learning. He also championed programs that fostered students' spiritual formation outside the classroom.

Investing in the future good of the University, Donnithorne advanced campus development with energy and vision. Four student residence halls were constructed during his presidency. He and his team led the rezoning and sale of the former Western Bible College campus, yielding more than $30 million to CCU. 

Dr. Donnithorne and his team oversaw the Board-directed sale of the University-owned radio stations to K-LOVE, which provided more than $25 million. Today, more than 1 million Colorado listeners benefit weekly from K-LOVE’s top-quality Christian programming.

These endeavors set the university on a firm financial foundation that enabled future growth.

The day of dedication events began with a welcome from President Eric Hogue, who introduced the Donnithornes to over 1,500 students in the Event Center during chapel. 

Dr. Ryan Hartwig ’00 shared memories of the Donnithornes’ leadership, saying, “This special couple has left not only a great mark on CCU but indelible marks on the lives of thousands of students who came through this university many years ago.”

The ceremonies continued in the newly christened Donnithorne Great Hall, where invited guests gathered for a luncheon and dedication ceremony. President Hogue and First Lady Tammy Hogue expressed gratitude for the Donnithornes’ service.

“Fran and Larry, you’ve been a blessing to this University for many years, and today, we are honored to honor you,” commented President Hogue.

Colleagues and friends shared reflections that underscored the impact of Fran and Larry’s service.

Reflections were shared by esteemed speakers, including Mr. Brian Bissell, former senior vice president and CFO; Mrs. Caitlin Alexander ’02, MBA ’06, former controller; Dr. Larry Linamen, former provost; Mr. Dick Crombie, former vice president of Adult and Graduate Studies; Mr. Jim Gunlock, former trustee; Mr. Lance Oversole ’06, former assistant vice president; Mr. Tom Beck, chief people and culture officer at Compassion International; and Mr. Peter Culshaw, executive vice president at Shea Properties.

As each speaker shared about their experiences during the Donnithorne years, a central theme was evident: Their leadership was characterized by humility, integrity, and a commitment to service.

“As the psalmist said of David, you shepherded us, Larry, with the honor and integrity of your heart; you guided us by the skillfulness of your hands,” said Bissell. “Fran and Larry, you showed us how to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.”

Tributes were also given by United States Senator Michael Bennet, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and Mayor Wendi Strom of Lakewood, who issued a city proclamation naming April 23, 2024, as “Fran and Larry Donnithorne Day.”

Chancellor Donald Sweeting presented the Donnithornes with a custom academic heritage chair, a gift from the University for their years of service.

“Larry and Fran, you have been God’s fellow workers in the enterprise of Colorado Christian University. We stand on your shoulders…thank you for serving faithfully,” said Sweeting.

Bissell and Alexander announced a $100,000 gift to the Murray-Donnithorne Endowed Scholarship Fund at CCU, further emphasizing the Donnithorne family’s legacy of generosity and compassion. Established by the Donnithorne family in 2003, the fund provides scholarships to students who demonstrate leadership skills and have financial needs.

“We’re grateful to CCU for providing and producing high-quality graduates who are smart, who work hard, and who embody the values of Larry and Fran Donnithorne,” remarked Alexander.

In his closing address, Dr. Donnithorne expressed gratitude for the bestowed honors, reaffirming his and Fran’s belief in the university's mission and the divine providence guiding its path forward.

“We are absolutely convinced that God has His hand on this university,” Donnithorne said. “He will continue to sustain Christian higher education in the Rocky Mountains. To God alone be the glory.”

The Donnithorne Great Hall is the primary event space in the Anschutz Student Center at the center of the University’s Lakewood campus. Adorned with beautiful wood, stone finishes, and ample natural light, more than 100 events are held annually in the Donnithorne Great Hall.

President Hogue noted, “All of us at CCU are grateful to the Bissell family and the Alexander family for their generosity, first to our campus development project and now to the Murray-Donnithorne Endowed Scholarship. The dedication of the Fran and Larry Donnithorne Great Hall serves as a testament to the enduring values of faith, integrity, and service that shape Colorado Christian University.”

Click here to watch a video and learn more about Dr. Larry and Fran Donnithorne