Advancing the Human Experience

History of the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University

Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts has only existed under its current name and structure since 1992, but the liberal arts have been essential to CSU’s curriculum from the very beginning.

Leaders throughout the University’s history have understood the importance of the liberal arts in preparing graduates to be engaged citizens and effective leaders in a rapidly evolving world. As Elijah E. Edwards, the first president of Colorado Agricultural College, said, “A one-sided education produces an un-symmetrical man. By a liberal education increased power and versatility is gained.”

The Past

Colorado Agricultural College
Colorado Agricultural College, 1895

Liberal Arts and the Land Grant Mission

With the passage of the Morrill Act in 1862, land grant institutions across the country began to consider how to fulfill their directive: a college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life.

The state of Colorado answered this directive by establishing Colorado Agricultural College in 1870. Early college and state leaders debated the meaning of a “liberal and practical education” and how best to serve the citizens and state interests of Colorado. Ultimately a curriculum was developed, and in 1879, President Edwards and two faculty members welcomed a class of five students. During their first year, these pioneering students took courses in English Composition and Analysis, U.S. History, and Rhetoric, along with more technical coursework in Horticulture, Farm Economy, and Practical Agriculture.

Charles Ingersoll

Charles Ingersoll

Born in Upstate New York, Charles Ingersoll served in the Civil War before attending and teaching at the State Agricultural College of Michigan. After being recognized as a distinguished professor of agriculture and horticulture at Purdue, Ingersoll moved west to become the second president of Colorado Agricultural College in 1882.

Ingersoll defined the purpose of land-grant education as blending agriculture, the mechanic arts, and liberal education. Of his successor, Dr. E. E. Edwards said, “President I. advocates better instruction and a more liberal course for students.” This ambitious and “broad gauge” view of land-grant education conflicted with the more narrow, technical focus of the State Board of Agriculture. Despite having won the respect of students, faculty, and the people of Fort Collins, Ingersoll resigned in 1891 after a nine-year term.
Charles Ingersoll
Electrical Building

Elizabeth G. Bell

During President Ingersoll’s first term at Colorado Agricultural College, 24 of the 67 students enrolled were women, but no effort had been made to provide a specific course of study for them. Ingersoll addressed this perceived need by hiring Elizabeth G. Bell as the college’s first female faculty member.

Bell joined the College in August 1885 to teach English, history, and modern languages. In addition to teaching the liberal arts “Ladies’ Course,” Bell lived in Spruce Hall as matron of the all-female dormitory. Following her death in the spring of 1887, her sister Maude Bell replaced her and went on to teach at Colorado Agricultural College for 10 years. Together, the Bell sisters advanced the educational experience of women at the college and paved the way for future female faculty members.
Rocky Mountain Collegian first staff

The First Extracurriculars

In 1880, the Philalethian Literary Society became the first student organization at Colorado Agricultural College. In 1881, the women of the society broke off to form their own Aesthesian Literary Society. According to the Fifth Annual Register of Colorado Agricultural College, “the character of the work performed in the societies is showing in the college work, and a higher plane of thought, feeling and action is seen each year.” The two societies merged in 1887 to form the Philo-Aesthesian Society.

In 1883, Colorado Agricultural College added a Department of Music to offer opportunities to students interested in vocal or instrumental lessons. This led to the formation of the college’s first orchestra and band in 1900, and the first marching band in 1901.

In 1891, the first issue of the Rocky Mountain Collegian was published, making it one of the oldest student newspapers in the west. The staff of six students, including editor-in-chief A.J. Sedgwick and society editor Irene C. Edwards (the only woman on staff), published college news, editorials, and advertisements monthly.
Grace Espy Patton
Grace Espy Patton and Grafton St. Clair Norman with a student organization

Early Alumni

Grace Espy Patton, a member of Colorado Agricultural College’s second graduating class, became one of the best-known alumni of the late nineteenth century. In September 1885, Patton was hired by the College as an instructor of agriculture, but her responsibilities quickly expanded to include zoology, physiology, microscopy, chemistry, drawing, and type writer work. Patton went on to become a professor of English and sociology, and in 1891, was named chair of the English and stenography department. Patton was a vocal advocate for women’s suffrage and founded an early feminist journal called The Colorado Woman. She led a successful campaign for state superintendent of public instruction in 1896, the first state election in which Colorado women could vote. Following her election, Patton noted, “It’s a good time to be a woman, and better still to be a Colorado woman.”

Grafton St. Clair Norman became the College’s first African-American graduate in 1896. As an undergraduate, Norman was very active in student organizations including the Columbian Literary Society (vice president in 1896), the Glee Club and College Choir (he sang bass), and the College Oratorical Association (unanimously elected College orator for the celebration of George Washington’s birthday in 1896). Norman would go on to serve as an officer during both the Spanish American War and World War I. Between his military stints, he worked in civil engineering, taught at a historically black Alabama land-grant college, and became a leader in the Alabama insurance industry.

Changes & Challenges of the Early Twentieth Century

The turn of the century brought new challenges to the country, especially the American west. World War I drained U.S. resources, and less than two decades later, the country was devastated by the effects of the dust bowl. These events underscored the importance of advancing agricultural production at the land grant institutions. The early twentieth century was also an era of social change, with the country following Colorado’s lead on women’s suffrage and the rise of manufacturing beginning to shift what had been a primarily agricultural economy.

Colorado Agricultural College kept pace with the changes and continued to prepare its students with an education that was both liberal and practical. By 1930, 1,072 students were enrolled at the College, a major leap from the first class of five. Growth and shifting priorities prompted the creation of the Division of Arts & Sciences in 1934, followed by a new name for the College – the Colorado State College of Agricultural & Mechanic Arts – in 1935.

CSU English class in the early twentieth century
Class taught by B.F. Coen, the head of the Department of English, early 1900s.
Charles A. Lory

Charles A. Lory

The son of a farmer, Charles A. Lory grew up in Sardis, Ohio before moving to Colorado. He received a degree in pedagogy at the State Normal School in Greeley before completing undergraduate and master’s degree programs in science at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After teaching at the high school and university level, Lory became the president of Colorado Agricultural College in 1909.

Like Charles Ingersoll, Lory embraced a broad-gauge educational philosophy with a technical focus. His practical agricultural background won him support from constituencies who may otherwise have disagreed with his support of a more liberal education. During his term, the student body grew from 217 to 2,048 and he is credited with the school’s development into a respectable land-grant institution with a balanced curriculum in agriculture, engineering, veterinary medicine, home economics, and the liberal arts.

Lory is credited with saying, “It is an old but true saying. There is as much culture in a beet root as in a Greek root.”
Charles A. Lory
Virgina Corbett
Virginia Corbett, early 1900s

Virginia Corbett

Virgina H. Corbett joined the faculty of Colorado Agricultural College in 1900 as a professor of literature and history. In 1908 she was named Dean of Women, a new position for the College focused on finding housing for women in Fort Collins and regularly meeting with female students to ensure their progress and wellbeing.

An active member of the campus community, Corbett is known for creating the Associated Women Students (AWS), sponsoring Alpha Chi Alpha (a national women’s journalist fraternity), and starting the girls’ loan fund in 1911 to assist women in paying for their education. As a leader among her contemporaries, Corbett became the first president of the Colorado Association of Deans of Women, known today as the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Women in Education (CWAWE).
B.F. Coen

Benjamin Franklin Coen

Shortly after the turn of the century, Benjamin Franklin Coen became the head of the English Department for Colorado Agricultural College. Recognizing a deficit in the language skills of students entering the college, Coen required all freshmen to write a 50-125 page theme on a subject of special interest to them. He also helped to develop the College’s first sub-freshman class, a series of coursework to prepare students with less formal education for college-level work. Topics in the sub-freshman class included rhetoric, grammar, history, and modern languages.

By 1915, Coen had become the head of both the Department of English and the Department of History and Economics. The catalog offerings in these fields quickly expanded to include courses in debating and public speaking, short story writing, journalistic writing, and sociology. In 1921, Coen left his leadership position to join the new Department of Economics and Sociology as a rural sociology researcher and professor.
The Scribblers Club led by Alfred Westfall
The Scribblers Club led by Alfred Westfall

Drama, Debating, and the Scribblers Club

Ruth Jocelyn Wattles was an English instructor and the first official historian for Colorado A & M. In addition to her responsibilities as a professor and historian, Wattles led the College’s drama club for almost forty years. Beyond acting, club members made costumes, built sets, and arranged lighting for their performances. The club made annual tours of the state, performing in towns across Colorado. Both the drama club and Wattles were considered to be vital components of the college experience during this era.

Another instructor in the English department, Alfred Westfall, became the catalyst for the resurgence of debating at the university. His teams were among the first from the College to participate and win in intercollegiate competition. Westfall also led the Scribblers Club, a group of students and faculty who gathered to write poetry, plays, and humorous articles. Membership was limited to 12 students each year.
Students using headphones to learn a foreign language 1959
Students learning a foreign language, 1959

Higher Education for American Democracy

The “golden age of higher education” was a time of rapid growth for Colorado A&M. After a slight dip in enrollment during World War II, student enrollment grew to more than 4,000 as returning veterans took advantage of the G.I. Bill. This era brought with it an emphasis on the liberal arts, as President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education emphasized the importance of a well-rounded education to create an informed and engaged citizenry, stating, “It is urgently important in American education today that the age-old distinction between education for living and education for making a living be discarded.”

The influx of students brought structural changes to the College as well. In 1951, the Division of Science & Arts became the School of Science & Arts, then changed again to the College of Science & Arts in 1959 after Colorado A&M officially became Colorado State University. As the Baby Boomer generation headed to college, the University’s population jumped to more than 15,000, creating an immediate demand for more buildings and more choices in curriculum.

Alfred Westfall
Alfred Westfall

Alfred Westfall: What Speech Teachers May Do to Help Win the War

Alfred Westfall joined Colorado Agricultural College in 1913 and served as the chair for the Department of English from 1926 until his death in 1953. In 1943, his essay “What Speech Teachers May Do to Help Win the War” was published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech. Exemplifying the values of the era, this essay underscored the role of liberal arts education in protecting democratic ideals.

"We have the opportunity – or shall we say responsibility? – of seeing that our students renew their faith in the ideals of democracy. If they are going to discuss the issues of the war, we must see that they study and understand them. If they are to undertake a patriotic service, we must see that they realize what patriotism stands for. If they are going to serve their country, we must see that they learn to value, appreciate, and love that country – not only for the protection it guarantees, but also for the rights it confers and the opportunities it provides."
Willard Eddy
Willard O. Eddy

Willard O. Eddy

Born in 1908, Willard O. Eddy received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Depauw University before going on to further graduate studies at Yale University, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Chicago. After teaching English language and literature at the Imperial University of Hokkaido in Sapporo, Japan, Eddy came to Fort Collins to join the newly renamed Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1937.

A ceaseless advocate for the liberal arts, Eddy played a pivotal role in the College’s transformation into a university. During his 56-year tenure he served as chair of two departments, created the University Honors Program, founded the department of philosophy, and developed the university's first courses in ethics, logic, literary criticism, Western philosophy, and philosophy of science. Eddy officially retired from Colorado State University in 1974 but continued to teach classes at CSU until his death in 1993.
Eddy Hall (then called Liberal Arts) 1968
Eddy Hall, then called Liberal Arts, in the 1960s

New Spaces: Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

With a rapidly growing student population, new academic spaces were needed for instruction, research, and administration. The Liberal Arts Building was constructed in 1963, providing a new home for the departments of English, philosophy, education, languages, and speech. In 1978 the building was renamed Eddy Hall to honor retired faculty member and liberal arts advocate Willard O. Eddy.
Construction on the Social Sciences Building began in 1966, with the B- and C-Wings opening in 1967, and the A-Wing officially opening in 1968. The building housed offices for numerous departments including anthropology, economics, history, political science, and sociology. For its era, the building was considered cutting edge with large auditoriums and the state-of-the-art media facilities. On May 11, 1977, the building was renamed in honor of professor and researcher Andrew G. Clark.
Early Colorado State University sign
Early sign of Colorado State University outside the Tiley House

Colorado A&M becomes Colorado State University

Following World War II, the U.S. population became increasingly mobile, and for the first time in its history, it was common for graduates of Colorado A&M to settle on the East Coast, West Coast, or abroad. While the college’s reputation for broad-based, comprehensive education was well known in the state, alumni had difficulty explaining to colleagues and employers elsewhere in the world that their degree was not from a small technical institute.
In 1957, under the leadership of President William E. Morgan, Colorado State College of Agricultural & Mechanic Arts became Colorado State University. The new name reflected CSU’s desire to become a world-class research university with a strong liberal arts foundation and paved the way for expanded offerings in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts.

Demand for Cultural Relevance

Higher education’s “golden age” drew to a close amidst the cultural turbulence and activism of the late 1960s. As the country once again experienced sweeping social change, questions emerged about whether institutions of higher education were being responsive to society’s needs. Students and faculty alike began to call for a university that reflected the struggles for equality and social justice taking place across the nation.

In 1968, the School of Humanities & Social Sciences split from the College of Science & Arts, in part to meet the demand for broader curriculum. The School continued to grow in both enrollment and programs, adding eight undergraduate and graduate degrees between 1969 and 1979. In 1974 the NCA approved Colorado State University for mature status, an indication of its sense of purpose, growth, and receptivity to interdisciplinary programs. Two years later it was designated a Carnegie Class I Research University. As the University continued to expand its liberal arts offerings, including a robust fine arts program, the School of Humanities & Social Sciences was elevated to the College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences in 1977.

Andrew G. Clark building shortly after construction
Andrew G. Clark Building, 1969
People marching for Equal Rights in the 1970s
People marching in the streets for equal rights, in the 1970s

The Birth of Women’s Studies

In the early 1970s, a group of faculty in the English department began developing literature courses with a feminist slant. The group, which included Carol Helmstetter Cantrell, Carol Mitchell, Pattie Cowell, and Jean Wyrick, met in Helmstetter Cantrell’s living room to brainstorm and develop syllabi for the new curriculum. Eventually the women connected with faculty in other departments, including political science professor Sue Ellen Charlton, to create what would become the first Women’s Studies courses.

Approved by Faculty Council in 1977, Women’s Studies became a 20-credit interdisciplinary concentration in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The program aimed to promote equality of the sexes, enable students to reassess traditional disciplines from a feminist perspective, and create opportunities for women to acquire knowledge and skills necessary for physical, social, and emotional well-being.
Morgan with students representing the Black Student Alliance and Mexican-American Committee for Equality
Morgan with students representing the Black Student Alliance and Mexican-American Committee for Equality

BSA, MACE, and Ethnic Studies

In 1968, the Black Student Alliance (BSA) and Mexican-American Committee for Equality (MACE) formed with the purpose of opposing racial segregation and advancing civil rights. The BSA and MACE established joint demands focused on the recruitment of minority students and employees, which they presented to CSU administration and the State Board of Agriculture in April of 1969. After presenting their demands, the groups staged non-violent protests, occupying the Administration Building and even moving their demonstrations to President William E. Morgan’s lawn when the Administration Building closed.

While many of the groups’ demands were turned over to a task force for future consideration, the demand for a Department of Afro-American was realized in the form of a new ethnic studies program, which became a part of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences in the fall of 1969.
Exterior of the Visual Arts Building

New Spaces: Visual Arts Building

When Perry Ragouzis joined CSU as the chair of the art department in 1966, he had ambitious plans for expanding the curriculum. At the time, art classes were held in the spare rooms of older buildings on campus, including the basement of Old Main and a section of Spruce Hall. New art facilities were in the University’s plan, but Ragouzis felt strongly that a building could not be designed until the department’s curriculum had been developed. The faculty spent three years planning and revising curriculum for the BA, BFA, MA, and MFA before the facilities planning process could launch in earnest.

The first phase of the Visual Arts Complex opened in 1973 with space for ceramics and sculpture classes. Phase II, which housed printmaking, graphic design, general arts, silversmithing, weaving, and drawing, was completed in the spring of 1975. In addition to instructional spaces and offices, the building included a gallery space – later renamed the Clara A. Hatton Gallery – and a visual resource area. Ragouzis’s contributions to the department and the building were honored with the Perry N. Ragouzis Sculpture Courtyard.
Allison C. White, assistant professor of political science, helping students in class
Allison C. White, assistant professor of political science, helping students in class

Renewed Emphasis on Outcomes and Undergraduate Education

After the rapid enrollment growth of the “baby boom,” colleges across the country experienced a “baby bust.” Student populations stagnated, and higher education was forced to once again reimagine its purpose. A changing economic climate prompted an focus on student outcomes. Would graduates be prepared for the world they were going to graduate into?

This question led many universities, including CSU, to re-evaluate their undergraduate curriculum. Beyond career training in STEM fields, students needed essential skills to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and globalization – the ability to think critically, the ability to communicate, and the ability to analyze and synthesize information, and the ability to understand culture and context. These skills were learned through the liberal arts, and in 1992 the College of Liberal Arts was established at CSU. Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Loren Crabtree said of the name change, “We wanted to give ourselves a real identity, to say that we were an integral part of this institution. Not just integral, but foundational.”

In 2019, CSU celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Eddy Hall Revitalized
Exterior of Eddy Hall with flood water damage

The Flood of 1997 and the Revitalization Eddy Hall

In 1997, flood waters ravaged the basement of Eddy Hall, damaging the building and destroying more than 500,000 books that had been collected by faculty. The nearly fifty-year old building needed structural repairs and renovations to continue to serve the 20,000 students that passed through its doors annually.

Exterior of a renovated Eddy Hall

In 2013, the Colorado State legislature awarded CSU almost $12 million for the Eddy project. Beyond updating the exterior of the building, the construction project created new east entryway to improve flow, updated accessibility features, and added over 3,000 square feet of space to the building. The newly updated building opened to students in 2015 and currently houses the departments of English, philosophy, and ethnic studies, the University Writing Center, and the Center for Women’s Studies & Gender Research.
Loren Crabtree
Loren Crabtree

Loren Crabtree, Albert C. Yates, and the new core curriculum

Hired in 1967 as an associate professor in the history department, Loren Crabtree used his 34-year tenure at Colorado State University to advance the liberal arts and improve the quality of undergraduate education. Serving as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1991 to 1997, Crabtree was instrumental in changing the college’s name and building its reputation on campus. In 1997, President Albert C. Yates appointed Crabtree to the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In this role, Crabtree continued to build his legacy by fostering major improvements in the University Honors Program, developing student retention initiatives, and rethinking the university’s undergraduate curriculum.

With the support of President Yates, Crabtree began to evaluate the University Studies Program required of every CSU undergraduate as a foundation for their learning. His findings and recommendations led to the implementation of a new All-University Core Curriculum in the fall of 2000. The revised curriculum created new emphases in historical perspectives and global and cultural awareness and expanded course offerings within the existing arts, humanities, and social science requirements. The curriculum also included a new topical First Year Seminar, designed to engage students in rigorous academic study and connect them with classmates, faculty, and the University.
University Center for the Arts

New Spaces: University Center for the Arts

The early 2000s brought a renaissance for the visual and performing arts at Colorado State. The Office of the President and the student body came together around the idea of funding a new, state-of-the-art facility for music, theater, dance, and visual arts at CSU.

The 225,000 square-foot University Center for the Arts first opened its doors in 2009. The University invested over 45 million dollars into the renovation of the historic building, which originally served as Fort Collins High School from 1925 to 1995. The UCA features five stunning performance venues: the Griffin Concert Hall, the University Theatre and Studio Theatre in the Bohemian Theatre Complex, the University Dance Theatre, and the Organ Recital Hall. The facility also houses two museums – the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art and the Avenir Museum – as well as instructional and office spaces.

Emeriti Memories

Mary Crow

Mary Crow, English 1964-2005

“One of the most memorable experiences I had while teaching at CSU was the recognition I received when in 1996 I was named by the governor to the post of Poet Laureate of Colorado. To celebrate, then President Al Yates hosted a lovely dinner for me and 40 guests at his home in Fort Collins at which he presented me with a stylized crystal ram. The College of Liberal Arts also recognized my term as Poet Laureate by reducing my work load and providing me with funds for support/travel.”

Mary Crow
Bob Lawrence

Bob Lawrence, Political Science, 1971-2008

“Special moments were when former students would call or write they had been accepted into law school thanks to a letter of recommendation I had written. Twice former students asked me to lunch to say they had established scholarships with my name on them.”

Bob Lawrence

Derry Eynon, Journalism & Media Communication, 1968-1991

“One [memory] that stands out (and affirmed my classwork standards) is an F grade I assigned to a writing submission during the first week of the quarter. The student came up after class, visibly upset, and told me I would have to change her grade because during her entire time in school she earned nothing but A's; maybe a few B's. I told her to see me in my office to review her paper and find out why she got an F. We met and she reluctantly accepted her grade. Years later, she won a Pulitzer Prize. Subsequently, she was named Liberal Arts outstanding alumna. I attended the awards banquet and, after the ceremony, congratulated her. She told me that F was a key to her success. Because she obviously was bright and talented, her previous teachers allowed her to slide by. She claimed I was the first to challenge her to reach the level of excellence of which she was capable. I suspect I felt almost as good as she did at that moment.”

Sue Ellen Charlton

Sue Ellen Markey Charlton, Political Science, 1967-2010

“The memories are hazy given the number and diversity of courses taught, from the quarter system (with 3-3-3 loads) when I started my career to my transitional retirement. Likewise, the diversity of student interests and personalities stand out, from the very best students to those who struggled with basic vocabulary. In the end, the interdisciplinary course on women and international development, which I introduced and taught for a long time, was special because it drew students from sophomore to Ph.D. levels, from every college, and a variety of countries (Saudi Arabia, China, Yemen, Ghana, Britain, Mexico....).”

Sue Ellen Charlton
David Freeman

David Freeman, Sociology, 1967-2005

“By 1972 highly divisive Vietnam war issues were dominating campus life socially and academically. In the midst of all this I regularly taught S-460, Technology, Culture, and Society. Students were a vociferous bunch, polarized, and not the easiest to encourage to practice civil discourse. Among them were two especially articulate advocates each opposed to the other, each active in mobilizing students. One was fine young man in the ROTC program soon headed for Vietnam; the other was an equally fine character, majoring in journalism as I recall, who also went to Vietnam as a journalist. The officer survived; the journalist was killed. As I write this, tears still come to my eyes.”

David Freeman
Charles Revier

Charles Revier, Economics, 1974-2010

“In my first year at CSU, I was assigned to teach two lecture sections of Principles of Macroeconomics in A-101 Clark. The assistant department chair, Bob Keller, was very experienced at teaching in A-101, and he was of enormous help in preparing me for the experience. But what an experience it was! The sea of faces seemed overwhelming, and it was hard to even see the expressions on the faces in the back row. A few years later we decided to limit the size of these sections to 210 so they would fit in the lecture halls on the second floor of the A-wing, and this was a big improvement. These rooms were wide with a more limited number of rows, and it seemed a little easier to actually engage the students.”

Charles Revier
Martha Tharp

Martha (Marty) P. Tharp, Journalism & Media Communication, 1986-1999

“It was a treat to take news majors to the State Colorado Press Association and the Society of Professors Journalism conferences. Some may even remember the one in Chicago where I ended up in the hospital and the students came to visit me before heading home.”

Martha Tharp
Past to Present - series of image of students cisca 1900s
Past to Present - series of image of students
Past to Present - series of image of students circa 1900s
Past to Present - series of image of students circa 1900s
Past to Present - series of image of students
Past to Present - series of image of students

The Present

Purposeful learning. Impactful scholarship. Meaningful engagement.

The College of Liberal Arts is a community of arts, humanities, and social science scholars who study the cultural, social, environmental, and historical context in which we live, and examine what it means to be human.

As one of the largest colleges on campus, the College of Liberal Arts enrolls more than 6,500 undergraduate and 500 graduate students. Within its 18 departments and programs, it houses 19 majors, 40 minors, 50+ concentrations, and 23 graduate programs.

Excellence in teaching, engaged scholarship, and research and creative artistry define the College. Organizations ranging from NASA to the National Endowment for the Arts fund CLA research and creative artistry projects. Students and faculty within the College share a commitment to the well-being of the human community, the natural environment in which we live, and to the inspiration of the human spirit.

Students study individually and in groups in the Eddy Building central corridor, September, 24, 2019.
Camille Dungy
Ed Barbier, Kate Browne, Bernard Rollins, Camille Dungy, Dan Beachy-Quick

Outstanding Faculty

College of Liberal Arts faculty have been recognized for their excellence at a University, national, and international level. Three CLA professors currently hold the title of University Distinguished Professor, the highest academic recognition awarded by Colorado State University. This title is bestowed upon a very small number of professors on the basis of outstanding scholarship and achievement.
Dr. Edward Barbier is a University Distinguished Professor and leading environmental economist who pioneered the earliest economic approaches to sustainable development. A 2018 recipient of CSU’s Scholarship Impact Award, Dr. Barbier is listed as one of the 50 most influential scholars on sustainability according to Cambridge University’s Institute of Sustainable Leadership.

University Distinguished Professor Dr. Katherine “Kate” Browne has conducted groundbreaking research in the field of cultural anthropology and emerged as one of her discipline’s most recognized scholars. In 2018, Dr. Browne received the prestigious Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology, considered the “Nobel Prize for anthropologists.”

In addition to being a University Distinguished Professor, Dr. Bernard E. Rollin was also the recipient of a PRIM&R Lifetime Achievement Award. As a professor in the Departments of Philosophy, Biomedical Sciences, and Animal Sciences, Dr. Rollins was a leader in the field of animal ethics, animal pain, veterinary ethics, and other topics in bioethics and philosophy.

The College also counts among its faculty two Guggenheim Fellows. In 2019, Dr. Camille Dungy, a professor in CSU’s Department of English, became the first woman at CSU to win a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her fellowship followed a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship win by CSU English professor and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Dr. Dan Beachy-Quick.
Tiley House, home of the Center for Literary Publishing and the Public Lands History Center
Tiley House, home of the Center for Literary Publishing and the Public and Environmental History Center

Research Centers & Institutes

The College of Liberal Arts is home to more than a dozen research centers and institutes that connect the work of the College to communities in Colorado and around the world. Two research centers, the Center for Literary Publishing and the Public and Environmental History Center, have been designated as Programs of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). Programs awarded this designation have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence in research, teaching and service.

The Center for Literary Publishing partners with writers to bring exceptionally written and published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to readers through a variety of platforms. Home of Colorado Review, the Colorado Prize for Poetry, the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, and the Mountain West Poetry Series, the CLP was established in 1992 as part of the English Department at Colorado State University.

Established in 2007, the award-winning Public and Environmental History Center integrates research, education, and outreach in the best tradition of a land-grant university. Projects with National Parks and other public land management agencies enlist faculty, graduate students, and other researchers to conduct historical research that directly informs current resource management challenges.

Dr. Stephan Weiler, a longtime faculty member in the Department of Economics, used his position as William E. Morgan Endowed Chair to create the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI) in 2017. REDI aims to understand, analyze and inform economic development strategies in struggling rural and urban areas, especially in Colorado, through engaged research.

The Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRISS) was started in July 2017 by faculty from the Department of Political Science and the Department of Sociology. IRISS aims to foster, enhance, and promote social science research that addresses critical and complex societal problems.
Robbie Myers, Eric Tippeconnic, Dana Hughes, and Brett Okamoto

Alumni Impact

The impacts of the College of Liberal Arts can be felt worldwide with more than 50,000 alumni as of 2019. CLA alumni have established themselves as leaders across industries and disciplines, contributing to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Robbie Myers (’82, Political Science) served as Editor-in-Chief of Elle Magazine from 2000-2017. Myers epitomizes the power of a liberal arts degree: using the rigor and depth of a specific discipline, with critical communication skills, creativity in problem-solving, and flexibility to navigate the complexities of the professional world.

Eric Tippeconnic (BA Humanities ’92) is an artist and history instructor whose work reflects his connections to his unique family background. His talent for depicting Native American images – some very traditional, some depicting contemporary themes – has earned the one-time CSU football star acclaim as a painter.

Dana Hughes (’98, Theatre) began her career as an actress in New York City before attending Columbia School of Journalism and becoming a broadcast journalist for ABC. Now, as senior communications officer for the UN Refugee Agency in Africa, Hughes raises visibility and advocates for refugee situations in 13 countries across the East, Horn and Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Brett Okamoto (‘08, Journalism and Technical Communication) is a Mixed Martial Arts reporter for ESPN. Okamoto, who grew up in Windsor, Colorado, interned at Sports Illustrated and wrote for The Coloradoan, The Greeley Tribune, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, and the Las Vegas Sun before landing his dream job.

The Future

Value of the Liberal Arts

As the 21st century develops, land-grant institutions face new challenges for which the liberal arts will be essential partners, if not central players: the need for an educated citizenry, addressing social and cultural dimensions of technological change, developing and understanding key resources of the knowledge economy, meeting a critical need to educate civically engaged and productive citizens.

We in CLA, through carefully chosen investments in key people and programs that support and make visible CSU’s excellence in areas of its traditional land-grant strength, will continue to develop our own distinctive brand as a place that connects an engaged liberal arts education to civic education and local, state, and regional democratic institutions.

Ben Withers, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

Student films a hockey match for news broadcast
Student films a hockey match for news broadcast

Preparing Students for 21st Century Success

The impacts of the College of Liberal Arts can be felt worldwide with more than 50,000 alumni as of 2019. CLA alumni have established themselves as leaders across industries and disciplines, contributing to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum estimates that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” With rapid technological innovation, globalization, demographic shifts, and geopolitical transformations, how can students prepare for successful and fulfilling futures?

According to a 2018 study conducted by the American Association of Colleges & Universities, “employers overwhelmingly endorse broad learning and cross-cutting skills as the best preparation for long-term career success.” Both executives and hiring managers place a high priority on graduates’ demonstrated proficiency in essential skills like effective communication, critical thinking, and ethical decision-making. Developing these competencies is at the heart of a liberal arts education, making College of Liberal Arts graduates not only appealing to employers, but better citizens of the world.
Blake Leadership Scholars
Blake Leadership Scholars

Attracting Academic Excellence

Students are a critical component of the College of Liberal Arts. This next generation of leaders will tackle the global challenges and “wicked problems” of the 21st century. With an eye toward the future, the College of Liberal Arts seeks to bring the best and brightest students from across the country to make their mark on the liberal arts community at CSU.

The college received support for this goal with the creation of the Blake Leadership Scholars program. The scholars program is available to high-achieving first-year students who have a high school GPA of 4.0 and who have demonstrated leadership and civic engagement during their high school career. The program provides a variety of experiences and opportunities, such as connection to leadership roles on campus, education abroad, and undergraduate research.

CSU System Chancellor Emeritus Joe Blake founded the program for College of Liberal Arts students in 2018. Blake said of the program, “We are leading not just the nation, but the world in so many areas. And my thought was that we needed to highlight the incredible faculty and excellence we have in the College of Liberal Arts.”
Gateway to Graduation recipient Erica Lefher
Gateway to Graduation recipient Erica Lefher

Investing in the Liberal Arts

Students, faculty, alumni, and donors have come to recognize the tremendous value the College of Liberal Arts brings to the campus community, the State of Colorado, and the world at large. Nowhere is support for the college more evident than in the generosity of its donors.

CSU’s State Your Purpose campaign set an ambitious goal of raising $1 billion for the University by 2020. The College of Liberal Arts met their individual goal of $35 million well in advance of the campaign deadline. This goal was achieved in part from a $5 million gift from CSU System Chancellor Emeritus Joe Blake, the largest in the College’s history. It was Blake’s intention that this gift would help cast a bright light on the incredible faculty and excellence in the College of Liberal Arts.

Other notable recent gifts include an endowed faculty position gifted by Father Don Willette in 2018, the Gateway to Graduation scholarship established by CSU professor emeritus of history Daniel Tyler, the Bodaken Philosophy Symposium established by Department of Philosophy alumnus Bruce Bodaken (’73), and $1.5 million for AV and technology enhancements to the University Center for the Arts.

To learn how to support a program, scholarship, or department in the College of Liberal Arts, visit the Giving page.