The University of Colorado Denver today opened the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities, thanks to a $5.5 million gift from the banking giant.

The center will provide innovative programs and academic work in the field of commodity finance, economics and policy.

Faculty and staff at the center will collaborate with the commodities industry to develop relevant course work and research in industries such as agriculture, energy and minerals.

The university said the aim is "to solidify Denver as the world's hub for this field of study."

"No academic program matches what the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities will provide," said Don Elliman , University of Colorado Denver chancellor. "J.P. Morgan will partner with the CU Denver Business School to create that vital intersection for commodities education and the industry."

Blythe Masters, head of J.P. Morgan Global Commodities, said J.P. Morgan is thrilled to support the school "as they expand academic and public understanding of the commodities industry."

"We don't see this as simply a gift to the school; it is an investment to better prepare our future and existing talent and improve public understanding through exciting new research," said Masters, who is on the JP Morgan Chase Executive Committee.

The center will be located on the first floor of the new 120,000-square-foot CU Denver Business School building in downtown Denver. The center features a state-of-the-art Finance and Commodities lab. The lab will provide students with hands-on experience and a better understanding of how trading can help commodity producers and consumers alleviate some physical risks and financial uncertainty in those industries.

The CU Denver Business School will offer specialization certificates, undergraduate and graduate emphases and degrees and professional education through the J.P. Morgan Center for Commodities.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com