Tony Frank: On Founders Day

On February 11, we celebrated 150 years of Colorado State University in Colorado.

When the territorial governor authorized the creation of the state’s land-grant campus in Fort Collins in 1870, the entire population of Colorado was only slightly greater than the number of students enrolled at CSU’s main campus, today. The nation was recovering from the Civil War, as the last of the Confederate states was readmitted to the U.S. The National Weather Service issued its first forecast that year, Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and the can opener was invented in Connecticut — 60 years after the invention of the tin can.

It was a different time, but the mission of Colorado State University is as relevant now as it was then. We provide access to an exceptional education to anyone with the ability to earn it, without regard for wealth, privilege, or family status. We conduct research that directly addresses the most perplexing challenges of our age. And we apply knowledge and discovery to the needs of our world, engaging with communities and people wherever CSU can have an impact.

Today, the CSU System includes three distinct universities – CSU Global, CSU Pueblo, and our flagship Fort Collins campus – unified by their community focus, statewide engagement, and global impact. Together, our campuses ensure that no matter where you are in Colorado, or the world, CSU is here for you, with educational options to meet you where you live.

A lot worth bragging about has happened on our campuses over the last 150 years. Just in the last few weeks, our Fort Collins campus once again became the top-ranked university in the country when it comes to sustainability – and our Pueblo campus is now the first campus in the state to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources. The CSU Air Force ROTC Detachment 90 has been named the best large detachment in the country, and our Student Veterans Organization was named the top SVO chapter in the U.S. CSU Global is now approved for Colorado National Guard members to use state tuition assistance, allowing them to continue their education online no matter where they are serving in our great state and beyond. Our academic programs, students, and faculty continue to earn impressive rankings and awards.

Most important, we enroll and educate more than 60,000 students every year, who then turn around and contribute the benefits of their education back to their careers and communities. That’s been true ever since our very first graduating class in Fort Collins, whose three graduates included Libbie Coy, the first woman to graduate from any college or university in Colorado. Among her later life achievements, she joined with her two fellow students in that first graduating class to found the CSU Alumni Association – becoming its first three members.

When we celebrate Founders Day, we’re really celebrating 150 years of providing life-changing education, world-leading research, and exceptional service to the people of Colorado. We’re celebrating the vision of promise and opportunity that Abraham Lincoln set into motion when he signed the Morrill Act that authorized land-grant universities in every state, and that still guides us today. I believe that Lincoln would be enormously proud of how his vision has unfolded here in Colorado. In his spirit, we continue to “think anew and act anew.” Happy 150th birthday, CSU!


Sign up to receive the print edition of STATE, the magazine of the CSU System.
3D magazine with the Winter 2021 cover