150 Years of University History
Elijah Evans Edwards, 1879-1882
Son of an Ohio itinerant Methodist preacher, Edwards received his B.A. degree from DePauw in 1853. He taught at a variety of schools, became a minister and was commissioned as a chaplain during the Civil War, returned to teaching and then spent six years as assistant editor of the Central Christian Advocate. He was serving as a professor of physics and natural history at McKenndree College in Lebanon, Illinois, when he was called to Fort Collins.
President Edwards, along with two instructors, welcomed the first five students to enroll at the State Agricultural College on September 1, 1879, two of which were members of his family. He believed the agricultural college's function was to provide vocational training, yet within the traditional context of educating the whole person. Regular morning chapel services were established to mark the beginning of the college day.
Edwards was viewed as a transitional education figure; he had a scholarly and scientific mind, but his knowledge did not equal that of men trained in the latest theories and applications of science. Having no precedents to guide him, he struggled with an ill-prepared student body, a confrontational faculty, and a desperate financial situation. Edwards failed to attract a following and resigned in 1882.
Charles L. Ingersoll, 1882-1891
Born in upstate New York, Ingersoll served through the Civil War and then enrolled at the State Agricultural College of Michigan where he later taught and managed the experimental farm. He was recognized as a distinguished professor of agriculture and horticulture while teaching at Purdue. Considered an agricultural expert, Ingersoll, in defining the overall purpose of land-grant higher education, unequivocally espoused the "broad gauge" view, blending agriculture, the mechanic arts, and liberal education.
During his first term at Fort Collins, 24 of the 67 students enrolled were women, but no effort had been made to provide special programs for them. He addressed this need by establishing a liberal arts "Ladies' Course." Throughout Ingersoll's tenure, academic options expanded and underwent modifications making it possible for students to obtain a B.S. degree in agriculture, irrigation engineering, and mechanical engineering. He also instituted military science training, a requirement for all land-grant schools. Just two years after he assumed office, the College celebrated its first commencement with three students on June 5, 1884.
Ingersoll championed a broadly conceived institutional destiny, one that would bring together proven maxims of the past and new scientific methods of the present. He sought an academic program that was liberal and far-ranging, as well as practical and immediate. His tenure also featured practical research beneficial to Colorado when the Hatch Act of 1887 provided federal funding to support experiment stations at Morrill-Act colleges. Unfortunately, board members found his goals too ambitious and sought to prevent their implementation. Even though he had won the respect of students, alumni, members of the faculty, and townspeople during his nine-year association with the College, Ingersoll decided to resign.
Alston Ellis, 1892-1899
Ellis was born in Kenton County, Kentucky, and spent his younger years on the family farm. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, after a brief stint of country school teaching and working in his father's tobacco factory. He became Colorado's State Agricultural College's third president on February 15, 1892.
No previous president could match Ellis' talent for defining institutional needs and formulating workable policies. He possessed a quick, practical intellect that enabled him to cut through details and grasp the essence of a situation. However, brilliance partially offset by some unfortunate personal qualities made him a controversial figure at the college. He could be arrogant, egotistical, and contemptuous of persons less intelligent than himself. He rarely hesitated to speak his mind, and nowhere was this trait more evident than with regard to his philosophy of education. He strongly supported the "broad gauge" concept of land-grant higher education, and his sophistication and eloquence in defending this approach surpassed his predecessors. Even so, this was a difficult goal to achieve because of the school's eagerness to serve the surrounding community and because of its dependence upon that community for survival.
Ellis contributed significantly to the development of Colorado Agricultural College. Despite severe economic difficulties precipitated by the depression of the 1890s, enrollment increased from 179 to 345 students and resident instruction faculty from 19 to 33. The "Ladies' Course" became a promising domestic science program, and a new commercial course was adopted. This period also featured some important additions to the College physical plant: Agricultural Hall, Horticultural Hall, the Farm House, the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, the Chemical Laboratory, the campus Train Station, and several greenhouses.
Despite extraordinary knowledge as an educator, Ellis experienced continuous difficulty in attracting support for his ideas and policies and found himself confronted by mounting opposition. During his six years as president, he offended many with his relentless, often scathing candor. His association with Colorado Agricultural College was terminated by the Board after the 1898-99 school year.
Barton O. Aylesworth, 1899-1909
Aylesworth was born in 1860 and was raised on a small farm near Springfield, Illinois. He entered Eureka College in 1874 and five years later qualified for the ministry, filling pulpits at various churches in Illinois and Iowa. In 1889 he was called to the presidency of Drake University becoming the "youngest college president in the U.S. at that time." Aylesworth resigned his office at Drake in 1897 and accepted a call to become pastor of the Central Christian Church of Denver, Colorado. However, feeling that a pastorate lacked the rewards of academic life, he eagerly accepted an offer from the State Board of Agriculture in July 1899 to become the fourth president of the State Agricultural College.
By nature, Aylesworth was congenial, easygoing, and derived pleasure from personal relationships and aesthetic pursuits. He was willing to delegate authority to others, and his approach to student affairs reflected a live-and-let-live philosophy. During his presidency, he took steps to reduce regimentation of student life and modified the mandatory student manual labor requirement.
One of his strongest commitments was to the concept of short courses, for persons seeking practical, readily-applicable knowledge without elaborate academic requirements. A goal at the beginning of his presidency was to revitalize institute work. In 1899 the College launched a correspondence campaign with local farmers' groups to promote a series of institutes. Although originally committed to stressing the agricultural program, by 1906 he seemed primarily interested in promoting a balanced curriculum. He spoke of an institutional structure resting on "four cornerstones" - agriculture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and domestic science - each of which deserved "equable support."
A struggle between broad and narrow gauge philosophies of institutional purpose was being waged at Colorado Agricultural College. Should the school function primarily as an agricultural institution or should it offer training in a broad range of fields. Professors, members of the State Board, and some highly important outside constituencies held views of the College's purpose that differed markedly from Aylesworth's. The president's hesitancy in responding to these opposing viewpoints contributed to a personal and institutional crisis that profoundly affected the destiny of the College. Aylesworth announced that he would not accept reappointment as president after the 1908-09 school year.
Charles A. Lory, 1909-1940
The son of a farmer, Lory grew to adolescence experiencing agricultural life in Sardis, Ohio. When he was fifteen, his family moved to Colorado and acquired a farm near the Windsor area. There Lory did a significant share of the work on an irrigation ditch project that brought vitally needed moisture to his family's and neighboring farms, gaining invaluable experience in irrigation engineering. In 1893 he became superintendent of a local canal and reservoir.
Despite his farming background and an apparent talent for agricultural and irrigation work, he held other ambitions. He was interested in becoming a teacher and enrolled at the State Normal School in Greeley, financing his education by continuing to work as a "ditch rider." After receiving his bachelor of pedagogy degree, he went on to enroll in the scientific course at the University of Colorado in Boulder. There he successfully completed the undergraduate program, and in 1902 obtained a master of science degree.
From Boulder, Lory went to Cripple Creek for a two-year stint as the principal of that town's high school, and spent one year teaching physics at the University of Colorado. In 1905 he took charge of the work in physics and electrical engineering at the State Agricultural College in Fort Collins.
Becoming president in 1909, Lory embraced a broad-gauge educational philosophy, albeit technically focused. His training had been in an academic discipline rather than religion, and although he viewed a state-supported institution of higher learning as an appropriate place for moral training, he deemed its primary function to be the dissemination of practical knowledge. This outlook, Lory's practical agricultural background, and his distinct personal talents for conciliation enabled him to attract support from individuals and groups.
The College was profoundly influenced by Lory's vigorous and distinctive leadership, so much so that to many Coloradoans, he was the College. His commitment to Colorado was genuine and exceptional, and in guiding the destiny of the College at Fort Collins, he remained ever-mindful of a larger obligation to the state. Outreach during his presidency included sponsorship of the Fort Lewis School and establishment of the Cooperative Extension Service under the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. Additionally, in 1918 he instituted a master campus plan that provided for the orderly addition of buildings around the Oval.
In December of 1933, the State Board of Agriculture approved a new Code of Operations which reflected the growing maturity of the State Agricultural College. For nearly twenty-five years President Lory had led the College in his own fashion. Under the new Code, deans and the Faculty Council assumed what appeared to be some significant responsibilities. In April of 1938, Lory indicated to the Board that he wished to retire upon reaching his sixty-eighth birthday, on September 25, 1940.
Roy M. Green, 1940-1948
Born in 1889 on a farm in Carroll County, Missouri, Green spent his youth attending local public schools and finding employment as a farm and factory worker. In 1917 he graduated from the University of Missouri after studying animal husbandry and farm management.
Following a brief stint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Green embarked upon a long period devoted to college teaching and technical research at the University of Missouri and Kansas State College. In 1934 he left academia for a period of governmental service.
Green became President of Colorado State College in 1940. His goals for the school were based upon an explicit and comprehensive knowledge of agriculture. In his view, Colorado was fundamentally an agrarian state, dependent upon farming income and products to nourish the rest of the economy.
Green refused to be distracted by minor fiscal concerns, trivial items of correspondence, or routine institutional decisions. He believed in delegating authority as well as responsibility. He was a hard-driving individual who habitually maintained a frenetic pace.
A significant array of distractions and misfortunes impeded Roy Green's aspirations for Colorado State College. Despite his dedication, talent, and ambition, the president, throughout his tenure at Fort Collins, found himself overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control, primarily World War II and the subsequent deluge of returning veterans. His wartime leadership, however, was notable for bringing a host of military training programs to the campus. He also responded effectively to the G.I. Bill that presented sudden enrollment pressures. His goal of establishing the school as a pervasive catalyst for Colorado's agricultural economy foundered as resources were diverted to meet a series of pressing crises.
Ill health also handicapped the president's efforts. During the last summer of 1941, Green suffered a physical breakdown that necessitated a three-month leave of absence. In 1946, while sitting in the lounge of Denver's Brown Palace Hotel with two of his colleagues, he sustained a gunshot wound when a deranged ex-serviceman went berserk, pulled a gun, and began firing wildly around the room. Although Green soon recovered, the shock to his system and the need to make up lost time imposed an added strain upon his already uncertain physical condition. The president carried on at a grueling pace until the fall of 1948 when he suffered a complete breakdown. Following surgery for a high blood pressure condition, he experienced a blood clot in the heart and died.
Crises marked his tenure, yet the period was one of successful transition to an institution increasingly responsive to the demands and realities of modern land-grant higher education.
Isaac E. Newsom, 1948-1949
Newsom was initially recruited to the College as a student in 1900. Following graduation in 1904, he accepted a position in veterinary medicine at the College, left on two occasions to pursue advanced veterinary training, and in 1909 returned permanently for a career at Fort Collins that spanned more than forty years. Newsom's abilities and the increasing specialization of veterinary medicine as a profession received recognition when in 1918 a distinct pathology department was established, of which he took charge. During the last decade of Charles Lory's presidency he was a leading faculty advocate of improved academic standards, and in 1941, he became the first dean of the Graduate School. On occasions when physical infirmities prevented President Green from performing his duties, Newsom ably filled in as acting president, and after Green's death in 1948, the governing board appointment him president while it searched for a permanent replacement. He provided a reassuring sense of continuity during a time of uncertainty and flux, and established himself as a gifted administrator.
William E. Morgan, 1949-1969
Morgan was a native Texan who spent much of his boyhood working on his family's ranch. He enrolled at Texas A & M College with the intention of becoming a Hereford breeder, but soon developed a keen interest in the field of agricultural economics. After obtaining his degree, he became assistant registrar at his alma mater.
In 1932, Morgan entered the graduate program the University of California at Berkeley. With his master's degree in hand he returned to his position at Texas A & M, but left to become an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He returned to his home state to teach at the University of Texas in 1935 and accepted a post with the Extension Service at Texas A & M a year later. After several years, he resolved to renew his graduate studies, this time at Harvard. September of 1940 found him back in Texas at his job with the extension service.
Morgan held an army reserve commission, and in early 1941 was ordered to report for active duty in the Army Air Corps. When the war ended, he returned briefly to Texas A & M, left to pursue a private business undertaking, then accepted a call to become president of Arkansas A & M College. In 1948 Morgan joined the Food and Agricultural Section of the European Recovery Program. It was during his assignment to this post that he received the invitation from Fort Collins to become President at Colorado A & M.
Morgan was an experienced administrator, with knowledge of land-grant higher education and a solid background as an agricultural economist. The most pressing problem confronting him when he assumed office was the task of finding adequate income to support the College's operations. He understood that future difficulties could be averted only by long-term planning. Enrollment projections, physical plant requirements, contemplated programs, and fiscal needs were among the matters that received his attention. Morgan met this challenge by actively seeking federally-sponsored contracts and grants, and promoting a strong graduate program in carefully defined fields.
Soon the name, Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College, no longer adequately conveyed the school's true functions and mission. Accordingly, effective May 1, 1957, Colorado A & M became Colorado State University.
Morgan thus contributed notably to CSU's emergence as a bonafide university. His farsighted and coherent concept of campus planning resulted in the emergence of vastly expanded modern campus. Moreover, his political skill in dealing with the legislature and in promoting cooperation among the state's institutions of higher learning, his grasp of the importance of contracts and grants research, and his courageous stand in securing a proper library for the school were all reflections of strong and able leadership.
During the late 1960s campus unrest-focusing on student rights, civil rights, and Vietnam war opposition-became a major institutional issue. Morgan retired as president effective June 1969.
Adrian R. Chamberlain, 1969-1979
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Chamberlain decided to pursue his college studies in civil engineering at Michigan State University and received his B.S. degree in 1951. He went on to obtain his master's degree from Washington State University in 1952, also in civil engineering. In 1955, Chamberlain became the first student to earn a Ph.D. at CSU, then known as Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College. Soon after completing his doctoral program in engineering, he joined the CSU faculty and coordinated engineering research. A series of administrative appointments ensued, culminating in the position of executive vice president. This experience prepared Chamberlain for the presidency, which he assumed in 1969.
It was a tumultuous period marked by student unrest and the burning of the Old Main Building in 1970. Chamberlain handled these problems calmly and adroitly. The university took important first steps toward addressing the demands of affirmative action by expanding opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities.
During the 1970s, the boom period of American higher education ended, and fiscal accountability became increasingly important. A master of the budgeting process, Chamberlain enabled CSU to consolidate the benefits of earlier growth despite double digit inflation and other economic difficulties.
In 1976 CSU achieved Carnegie Foundation Research I University status and throughout Chamberlain's presidency succeeded admirably in attracting sponsorship for key research programs. By the time Chamberlain left CSU three years later, the school was known for efficient administration and solid performance in selected academic and research programs.
Ralph E. Christoffersen, 1981-1983
Christoffersen was born in Elgin, Illinois. After completing a degree in mathematics from Cornell College (B.S., 1959) he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Indiana. He joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Kansas in 1966, then served in a series of administrative positions in the Academic Affairs Office. After two years as vice chancellor at the University of Kansas, Christoffersen came to CSU in 1981.
Unlike most previous presidents at Colorado State, Christoffersen’s background emphasized the liberal arts rather than agriculture or land-grant higher education. He advocated for the humanities in a well-rounded education, and exemplified this by performing enthusiastically in local opera productions soon after arriving in Fort Collins. In addition, as a scientist with more than eighty publications to his credit, Christoffersen felt that research should complement teaching at the university, since students would benefit significantly from the current research experience of their professors.
The onset of serious economic problems in Colorado during the early 1980s led to tighter education budgets and demands from state legislators for strict accountability. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education mandated a comprehensive accountability exercise for the state's colleges and universities, and retrenchment policies proposed by Christoffersen were highly unpopular with the CSU community. Lack of faculty support, divisiveness among members of the governing board, and discontent with Christoffersen’s budgetary decisions led to his resignation in 1983.
Philip E. Austin, 1984-1989
Born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Austin obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural economics at North Dakota State University, a land-grant institution. He then attended Michigan State University, earning his Ph.D. in 1968. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Austin performed military service that included a Vietnam tour of duty. After being discharged he worked as an economist for the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and as deputy and acting assistant secretary for HEW in Washington, D.C. A key professional change came in 1977 when he left government service to head the doctoral program in public affairs at George Washington University. He then became provost and vice president for academic affairs Baruch College in New York City before assuming the CSU presidency in 1984.
Trained as an economist, and having direct knowledge of land-grant education and governmental bureaucracies, Austin possessed exceptional political skills. He recognized that no major academic institution could flourish without private support to supplement state funding and sponsored research. Accordingly, fundraising became a high priority and close contacts with Colorado business leaders enabled CSU to attract unprecedented private financial backing.
During Austin's presidency, in response to legislative pressure to streamline governance of Colorado higher education and building upon reorganization begun in 1978, the CSU System was established. A single governing board exercised jurisdiction over CSU, the University of Southern Colorado, and Fort Lewis College, and Austin became chancellor of this system.
Students of this era seemed more focused on preparing themselves for good jobs than protesting against society's injustices. Opportunities for women, however, increased markedly, and legacies of the civil rights and environmental movements affected institutional policies and student values. A distressing characteristic was a penchant for destructive rioting. Responding to consecutive years of violence, in 1987 President Austin permanently cancelled the springtime tradition of College Days.
Austin also revised and implemented institutional self-evaluation proposals begun during the Christoffersen presidency. As a result, numerous redundant classes and marginal programs were eliminated, reducing waste and freeing resources for more suitable priorities. A particularly important new priority involved telecommunications and computing-areas that enabled CSU to successfully confront Information Age challenges. Although many other priorities remained unfinished when Austin left CSU in 1989 to become chancellor of the University of Alabama System, his leadership brought necessary improvements.
Albert C. Yates, 1990-2003
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Yates served in the U.S. Navy prior to pursuing his college education. In 1965, he received his bachelor's degree specializing in chemistry and mathematics from Memphis State University and subsequently earned a Ph.D. degree in theoretical chemical physics from Indiana University. Yates had transcended the oppressive circumstances of a segregated Southern society to achieve notable academic success. After completing graduate studies, he obtained valuable experience as an academic administrator at the University of Cincinnati and Washington State University.
Yates arrived at Fort Collins to find CSU confronted by much unfinished business. A new strategic planning process was in place that required each unit of the University to conduct a self-study and provide a plan. Departments with convincing plans obtained support; those with poor plans found their resources reduced and shifted to more deserving programs. Another serious unresolved difficulty concerned the condition of the Main Campus. There had been a serious decline in the aesthetic character, safety, and usefulness of many campus buildings. A new master plan was devised to remedy those problems. CSU had also lagged in its ability to meet state and federally-mandated guidelines for Affirmative Action. Again, a coherent planning process, involving the entire CSU community, brought some notable improvements.
One of President Yates' early frustrations concerned CSU's absence of a discernable sense of community. He tried to reduce the acrimony that existed between units by promoting a more equitable salary scale, but longstanding animosities were difficult to eliminate. Yates believed that a properly managed intercollegiate athletics program might have public relations benefits and even contribute to a sense of community provided that it upheld the university's ethical code. In the 1992, despite highly rancorous criticism, he fired football coach Earle Bruce for violating this ethical standard.
On July 28, 1997, CSU experienced a devastating flood that inundated the Main Campus. Yates used the occasion to motivate the University by defining this crisis as "an opportunity for CSU to become a better place than it had been before." His strong leadership imbued the school with a sense of accomplishment in coping with the myriad problems of recovery. The campus emerged from the flood vastly improved, both aesthetically and functionally.
Yates truly understood the manifold requirements of leading a major university, implementing ideas into action, and doing so with honesty and integrity. His thirteen-year tenure brought CSU badly needed stability and substantively advanced its threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service.
Larry Edward Penley, 2003-2008
President Penley came to Colorado State University from Arizona State where he was dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business, a position he was appointed to in 1991. Previously he had served as professor of management and chair of the Department of Management at the university. He received his doctorate in management from the University of Georgia and his bachelor's degree in psychology and his master's degree in communication from Wake Forest University. Following graduate school, Penley joined the faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio as assistant professor of management and served as associate dean of the College of Business and associate professor of management at that institution.
Penley's research has focused primarily on the skills required of effective managers, including communication and career-related behaviors. He also has investigated the relationship between organizations and their employees. He has published in journals such as the "Journal of Management," "Journal of Organizational Behavior," "Academy of Management Journal," and "Management Communication Quarterly." His executive training experience and his consulting have brought him in contact with industries ranging from manufacturing to banking to health care.
According to Dr. Penley "This is a great university, with the critical characteristics necessary to address the challenges that are ahead for higher education and our global environment."
Tony Frank, 2008-2019
Frank received his bachelor's degree in biology from Wartburg College and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois. He completed a Ph.D. and residencies in pathology and toxicology at Purdue University. He served on the faculty at Oregon State University before joining Colorado State in 1993, where he served as Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Frank was appointed as vice president for Research and Information Technology at Colorado State in 2000 and served in that capacity until he assumed the role of interim provost in March 2005. He was appointed to the position of Provost and Senior Vice President in July 2005. Frank was appointed president in 2008 and Chancellor of the Colorado State University System in 2015. Tony Frank ended his tenure as president in June 2019 becoming Chancellor of the CSU System.
Joyce McConnell, 2019-2022
Joyce McConnell graduated from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in 1979 and from Antioch Law School in 1982. She went into private practice before being named a graduate teaching fellow at Georgetown University Law Center in 1987 where she earned a master of laws in 1990. McConnell followed this by teaching at the City University of New York School of Law (1987-94) and the University of Maryland School of Law (1994-95). In 1995 she left to become an assistant professor of law at West Virginia University. In 2008 she was named dean of the law school.
On July 1, 2014 McConnell was appointed provost and academic chief by incoming President, Gordon Gee. In this role her creation of the university-wide WVU Idea Hub, spurring innovation and entrepreneurship on the campus. She also advanced the expansion of WVU’s Energy Institute, ADVANCE Center and Center for Excellence in STEM Education and established a Humanities Center. As part of her commitment to diversity, McConnell also created the university’s LGBTQ+ Center and focused the campus on the success of all students.
In 2019 Joyce McConnell was appointed CSU’s president, the first female president in the institution’s history. During her tenure, she oversaw the University’s successful management of the Covid-19 pandemic and was a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion on campus. Under her direction, CSU embarked on a new plan, Courageous Strategic Transformation, which enables the students, faculty and staff to build on CSU’s greatness and rise to the challenges of the times. McConnell left the presidency at the end of June 2022.
Rick Miranda, Interim, 2022-
Rick Miranda received his B.A. in Mathematics from the College of the Holy Cross and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following postdoctoral appointments at the University of Chicago and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he joined the faculty at CSU in 1982. His administrative career started in 1997 when he became Chair of the Department of Mathematics. In 2002, Miranda was appointed Dean of the College of Natural Sciences. In January 2009 he was named Provost and Executive Vice President of the university, an interim role until 2010 when he became non-interim. He has also served as the Chief Academic Office (CAO) of the CSU System since 2012.
Dr. Miranda returned to his faculty position as full professor of Mathematics in August 2020, while remaining System CAO. He was named interim president of CSU in June 2022.