CU President George Norlin: Champion of civil rights and an unwavering rebel with a cause

George Norlin

Paul Chinowsky
Paul Chinowsky

In this month’s CU on the Air, we delve into the courageous academic and civil accomplishments of CU’s fifth and longest-serving president, George Norlin. We discuss how he helped build the university, literally and otherwise, stood up to the KKK and helped shape the university today. Host Ken McConnellogue chats with Dr. Paul Chinowsky, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at CU Boulder and associate vice-provost for student success about:

  • The events Norlin oversaw involving civil rights and his foreshadowing of international conflict.
  • His time in Germany and his alarm early on about the rise of the Nazis well before WWII.
  • Norlin’s stand against the KKK-led Colorado governor and Legislature when they demanded he fire Catholics and Jews, and what it cost CU.
  • A hollow log of Norlin’s childhood and how it might have saved his life.
  • His budding fascination with Greece and Greek studies.
  • The unusual way a Greek classics professor became president of the University of Colorado.
  • The remarkable growth of the campus’s size and student numbers.
  • How Norlin and architect Charles Klauder determined the unique design of the campus, and how it reflects the environment around it.
  • How Norlin’s value of discourse, his openness and honesty created a thoughtful and inclusive environment on campus.
  • His legacy of academic excellence and freedom, and how it still thrives today.
  • The role his Airedales played in the classroom.
  • What Norlin would be most proud of – and most frustrated by – in higher education today.
  • The Norlin Charge, and CU’s fifth presidents for the future