The celebration of Veterans Day has special meaning for the Colorado State University System. We’ve made it part of our mission to serve those who serve our country, and we place high value on the leadership, experience, and maturity that military veterans bring to our campus as students, faculty, and staff. This work is in the DNA of land-grant universities like CSU, created by President Abraham Lincoln, who gave perhaps the shortest and most eloquent tribute ever to our nation’s veterans, at Gettysburg: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who have fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
We will never forget, and for the CSU System that means doing all we can to support our veterans in gaining the education they need to achieve their goals once their military service has ended. To measure how well we’re doing, we listen to what our students tell us and to one particular national ranking: the Military Times “Best for Vets” college rankings, which come out around this time every year. I’m enormously proud to be able to report that our flagship Fort Collins campus moved up four places in the ranking this year – to No. 2 in the country. And CSU-Pueblo, which only made the rankings for the first time a year ago, is now at No. 36. CSU Global, the country’s first fully accredited online university, is also a leader in innovative options for veterans and an academic home for a large number of military personnel who are stationed overseas and want to pursue an education in the few free hours they have available.
CSU has done well in supporting student veterans because we flipped the model used by most universities in the country: instead of focusing on the trauma veterans have experienced and the challenges they face, we focus on the exceptional capabilities they bring to our campus and how much we have to learn from their experience. Like all our students, veterans have their own set of needs, and we strive to support them. But the truth is, our university benefits in profound and lasting ways from the presence of those who have served – and this has been true throughout our University’s history. CSU institutions have been shaped by our veterans and service members – our alumni who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor and others like Lt. Col. John Mosley, who became a Tuskegee Airman, and General Lew Walt, who commanded U.S. Naval forces in Vietnam and became Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.
And above all, we are shaped by the women and men in uniform on our campus today who carry on that legacy of courage and sacrifice. They put their lives on the line for all of us, and we owe them an exceptional CSU System experience.