August 6, 2021
It is with great sadness that we announce that former Colorado Governor and longtime University of Denver professor, Richard “Dick” Lamm, passed away at the age of 85. One of Colorado’s longest serving governors, Lamm brought his commitment to public policy and public service into the classroom, graduate and undergraduate program offerings, and institutes.
Lamm is best known in our community as the co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies, where he served from 1987–2017 and which created the Master of Public Policy and the Undergraduate Program in Public Policy. He was also an associate professor of law from 1969–1974. Korbel School Dean Fritz Mayer described Lamm in this way in a letter to the Korbel community: “A three-term governor and former presidential candidate, Dick was known to take on challenging issues, embracing partnership and collaboration.” Lamm graduated from the University of Wisconsin before earning a law degree from the University of California in 1961. His colleague Professor Rick Caldwell, who served as co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies with Lamm for 30 years, shared, “Dick was a unique and adventurous person. His intellectual capability and record as Governor made him such a valuable asset to DU.” Lamm’s obituaries offer more examples of his political and policy contributions to Colorado, such as from The New York Times and from The Denver Post.
During his time at the University, Governor Lamm was accessible and generous with his time, interacting with and advising hundreds of students. Lamm wrote several dozen public policy treatises on such topics as health care, immigration, and environmentalism, and an autobiography, The Governor’s Chess Board: A Life Time in Public Policy (2019). In his decades of service to DU, Governor Lamm exemplified the role of practitioners as educators, bringing into the classroom his unique perspective from the governor’s office and a lifetime of public service. Generations of undergraduate students took his class, “Hard Choices in Public Policy,” which helped propel many of their careers in public service.
We honor Governor Lamm for his service to Colorado and the University and offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, Dottie, family, friends, colleagues, and students.