You don’t have to look very hard to find Colorado State University’s influence in Fort Collins.
CSU, established just six years after Fort Collins officially came into existence in 1864, long has been the driving force behind the city’s growth and development. Not only is CSU the city’s largest employer, the University and its students are the primary economic and cultural players. It is a remarkable partnership 145 years in the making, and it has helped both thrive.
CSU’s influence in Fort Collins, however, goes much deeper than simple dollars. Look at the holiday lights that help transform downtown into a shimmering winter wonderland. Or the beaming faces of more than 2,500 kids every year as they receive their very own supply-filled backpack from CSU’s School is Cool program. Or watch students work up a sweat collecting food for the needy during the annual Cans Around the Oval celebration. Or feel the community spirit as friends and families gather during the summer for the Lagoon Concert Series.
Around the Oval
Cans Around the Oval is a great example of CSU and its students taking action on the commitment to outreach through the university’s land-grant mission. Initiated in 1986, Cans Around the Oval has become the largest annual food and fund drive in Northern Colorado, collecting more than 1.7 million pounds of food and $140,000 for the Food Bank of Larimer County.
Like Cans around the Oval, School is Cool is a uniquely CSU initiative that has become an invaluable asset for kids in Poudre School District.
The employee-driven program, which began in 1991, provides grade-specific school supplies and new backpacks to PSD to distribute to students based on need. In 23 years, School is Cool has steadily grown and has provided more than 28,000 backpacks to the city’s kids.
More recently, CSU has partnered with the Downtown Business Association to sponsor some of the city’s many popular events and traditions. In addition to helping provide holiday lighting throughout Old Town, CSU sponsors New West Fest, the Colorado Brewers Festival and other popular events.
And, as has been the case for more than a century, CSU prides itself on being
the intellectual epicenter of Northern Colorado. The newly launched President’s
Lecture Series highlights the University’s outstanding programs and faculty.
The series, a gift to the city to celebrate its sesquicentennial, features four
annual lectures and invites the public to campus to hear about exciting
breakthroughs taking place at CSU.
Founded on the principle of outreach, the University proudly continues that tradition more than 145 years later and continues to explore new ways to strengthen its commitment to Fort Collins.
Colorado State University, fast facts
Student population: 31,725 (2015)
Elevation: 5,003 feet
Campus size: 583 acres
Previous names: Aggies, Colorado A&M
• The Oval is the centerpiece of campus. Surrounded by majestic trees and some of CSU’s oldest buildings, the Oval measures 2,063 feet around.
• CSU’s first official school colors were alfalfa and pumpkin – a tribute to the school’s agricultural roots.
• CSU launched the state’s first engineering program in 1902.
• The annual Homecoming 5K race, which starts and ends at the Oval, attracts more than 1,500 participants.
• Peanuts the Bulldog became CSU’s first unofficial mascot in 1912. A ram became the Aggies mascot in 1946, and CAM the Ram became the official mascot in 1954.
• The “A” painted on the hill above Hughes Stadium has been an area landmark since 1923. It measures 450 feet high by 210 feet wide.
• The plan that created the Peace Corps in 1961 was authored at CSU.