Twenty Years of Giving

As one of five children of a Presbyterian minister, Barbara Borst understood by the time she graduated high school that her family operated on a relatively tight budget. This reality made the teenager grateful when her mother surprised her with a generous offer.

“Mom said, ‘We’ll help you get through college … then you can help your younger siblings get through when their time comes’,” remembers Borst, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Sterling College in Kansas and a master’s from Indiana University.

“Getting through college, for me, was also about finding scholarships, working, saving money – those kinds of things – and I think all of that had an impact on me,” said Borst, who has been an employee of the library at Colorado Mesa University since 1981. “A lot of people helped me get my education and I guess that’s why I’m kind of paying it forward.”

Indeed, Borst has made a gift to the university every year for more than two decades, including the most recent fiscal year, when her annual gift helped the CMU Foundation raise a total of $9.6 million.

“I originally started giving money to the Athletic Department, primarily to the men’s basketball team, when it was still Mesa College. I’ve been a big basketball fan ever since I was a little girl,” said Borst, who helped compile statistics at the games for many years. “Later on, after I started attending theatre productions, supporting them became important to me. I wanted to help purchase the equipment and materials they needed to produce some of the plays they wanted to bring in.”

In recent years, she has given to the foundation for specific projects.

“Sometimes the money goes for scholarships. I don’t know the people who are receiving them, but that’s fine,” she said. “It just makes me feel good to help a student who needs it.”

Although she spent most of her younger years in Kansas, Borst is a Colorado native. She was born in Salida and briefly attended elementary school in Delta.

“I could see the Grand Mesa from my bedroom window,” she remembered. “When we moved to Kansas, I told my mother I was determined to come back to Colorado someday. It took a while, but I finally made it back in 1981 and I’ve been here ever since.”

In her 38th year at CMU, Borst is the Tomlinson Library collection development coordinator primarily responsible for keeping the library collection updated and balanced to ensure that students have the materials they need to complete their assignments.

“Building the library collection is what I most enjoy about my job,” she said. “I really love interacting with the faculty, and I also enjoy the 10 hours each week that I work at the reference desk. I like helping students find the materials they need.”