Hank Brown, National Western’s 2008 Citizen of the West
Honoring individuals who embody the spirit and determination of the western pioneer, the Citizen of the West committee recognizes Hank Brown of Denver as the 2008 Citizen of the West.
“Hank has it all,” said former Senator Alan Simpson, who also was the 1990 Citizen of the West recipient. “He’s the epitome of the old phrase, ‘If you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.'”
A Colorado native, former US Senator Brown entered the University of Colorado in 1957 on a football scholarship and helped pay his way through school by working 30 hours a week. Academically, he was on the faculty honor roll for four semesters and participated in the honors program. While at CU, as student body president, he secured the passage of the first complete reorganization of student government since the late 1930s. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a juris doctorate degree from the University of Colorado Law School, and a master of law degree from George Washington University.
After serving in the US House of Representatives, Hank Brown was elected to the United States Senate in 1990, becoming Colorado’s 30th Senator. He was chairman of the Middle East Subcommittee on Foreign Relations and chairman of the Constitutional Law Subcommittee on Judiciary. Numerous bills were passed with his leadership, but among legislation most pertinent to the American West, Brown was the prime sponsor of Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River and the only Heritage area designation, the 1994 Colorado Wilderness Bill, and the American, Santa Fe and Oregon Trails bills.
“I’m delighted at Hank Brown’s selection into this important fellowship of effective leaders who have had a major impact on the quality of life in this region,” said Wayne Hutchins, President of the CU Foundation. “His rare blend of experiences of corporate and public life have provided him with an uncommon perspective on what’s important to balance and maintain the priorities that are unique to the American West.”
Brown served as president of the University of Northern Colorado from 1998 to 2002, and as president and CEO for the Daniels Fund, a billion-dollar foundation, from 2002 to 2005, when he was asked by the CU Board of Regents to serve as interim president. As short time later he was appointed the University of Colorado’s 21st president.
Typifying the hometown loyalty and leadership he is recognized for, Brown’s tenure at CU has marked a renaissance for the school. Enrollment, donations, and student diversity have celebrated sharp increases since Brown took the reins, and the University recently received its largest increase in state funding in its 131-year history.
“If you were able to boil down and distill the values and ethics of our Western heritage,” said Pat Grant, National Western president and CEO, “you’d get Hank Brown. He sets the citizenship standard, not only for Westerners, but for all Americans. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to honor this great American in 2008.”
Born in 1940 in Denver, Hank Brown was a highly decorated aviator in the US Navy, where he worked as a forward air controller along the coastal areas outside DaNang, Vietnam. Among other awards for his military service, he is the recipient of the Air Medal with two Gold Stars and the Naval Unit Citation.
In 1967, he married Nan Morrison of Springfield, Colorado. The couple has three children and three grandchildren.
Brown will be on hand to accept the prestigious award during an award dinner January 16 in the Adam’s Mark Hotel ballroom.
The annual dinner helps kick off the National Western Stock Show, and the proceeds benefit the National Western Scholarship Trust, which supports 74 scholarships for colleges in Colorado and Wyoming.