CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, announced it is contributing $2.5 million to support a new center for commodities research at the University of Colorado.

The new center will open in 2012 at the CU Denver Business School. The three-year gift is designed to help establish CU as a global leader in research, education and training in the field of commodities, including agricultural and energy commodities that play an increasingly vital role in the world economy.

"We're delighted to be part of this exciting, visionary program at CU," said Robert B. Engel, CoBank's president and chief executive officer. "As a provider of credit to agribusiness and energy cooperatives across the U.S., we have a strong interest in commodity markets and the impact they have on our customers and rural America. We commend the university for its decision to launch this initiative, which we believe fills a pressing business and educational need in this country."

Sueann Ambron, dean of CU Denver Business School, said the university will be recruiting leading experts to research and teach at the new center. The school is adding new academic programming focused on commodities, and students will be able to learn the basics of commodities trading at a "desk" on the main floor of the business school's new building, a $45 million facility in downtown Denver.

"Our goal is an ambitious one: We want to establish CU Denver Business School as an internationally recognized center of knowledge about commodities," Ambron said. "The world economy is becoming increasingly globalized, and competition for resources is intensifying. As those trends evolve, commodity markets will continue to grow more complex and more volatile. It's critical that we better understand these dynamics and the implications they have for the future."

In addition to the school's building fund, CoBank has designated a portion of its gift to endow a named professorship at the school, which will be focused on commodities or agricultural economics. Other dollars will be earmarked to fund a scholarship program for students who attend the school from rural communities around the country.

"The rural scholarship fund is an important part of our broader gift, and it supports CoBank's overall mission to serve rural America," Engel said. "We hope the fund will create new opportunities for students from rural communities, particularly those who plan to pursue their careers in the agribusiness or rural energy sectors after earning their degree."

Currently, the CU Denver Business School serves over 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students in 10 separate locations in downtown Denver. The new facility will enable the school to consolidate all office and classroom space into one location. Construction of the building is scheduled to be completed in June 2012.