The Colorado State University System is comprised of three-campuses with very distinct roles and missions. Its flagship, CSU in Fort Collins, was founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, six years before the Colorado Territory became a state.

Colorado State University's first main building, Old Main, was built in 1878.

The school first opened its doors to students in 1879 with President Elijah Edwards and two faculty members. From these humble origins, a world- class university grew.

On July 1, 1985, the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System (then the State Board of Agriculture) created a higher education system incorporating Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Lewis College, and the University of Southern Colorado. The board designed the new Colorado State University System (CSUS) to assist the institutions in accomplishing their objectives and to provide staff support to the board.

In 2002 Fort Lewis became a separate entity reducing the CSU System to two institutions, Colorado State University and the University of Southern Colorado. By statute enacted in 2002, the latter institution’s name was changed to Colorado State University-Pueblo (CSU-Pueblo), effective July 1, 2003.

In 2007, the Board supported the creation of a new online university, CSU-Global Campus. The new entity provides non-traditional students – a significant population currently underserved – access to a quality public education with the goal of earning a degree.