Guest opinion: CU, CSU committed to state’s communities
Take a look around any large or small community in Colorado and you’ll likely see the presence of Colorado State University or the University of Colorado. Often, you’ll see us both.
Some Coloradans may think our universities only meet once a year on the football field, as we did Friday night in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Actually, it is much more common for CU and CSU to cross paths in communities around Colorado. We share a deep passion for our public missions and a strong commitment to serving our state. We do so primarily by educating Coloradans on our campuses or online, yet working in towns and cities across Colorado is also a critical part of what we do.
Our commitment to communities manifests itself in several ways. We share the expertise of our faculty and researchers. We engage K-12 students and schools. We work alongside civic and business leaders. We conduct research projects on issues that matter to communities in areas ranging from food safety to air and water quality.
CSU Extension has had a long and productive presence in every Colorado county, providing educational information and programs that safeguard health, increase livelihood and enhance well-being. CU has nearly 300 educational, research and outreach programs in communities large and small around the state. A few examples illustrate our reach:
• The CU Cancer Center at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus extends cancer care into midsized and rural communities. CU doctors whose specialties range from oncology to neurosurgery to cardiology travel to hospitals that are lacking those specialists, providing patient care, and access to clinical trials.
• CSU’s Little Shop of Physics is a hands-on science program that takes more than 100 experiments on the road across Colorado to visit schools and provide teacher workshops. Staff and students develop lessons that demonstrate that anyone can understand science. Last year, the student-run program worked with more than 300 teachers and 15,000 students, particularly those in underserved areas.
• CU Boulder’s Business Research Division in the Leeds School of Business provides economic and demographic information to businesses, governments and nonprofits around the state. Specializing in economic and fiscal analysis, market research and custom research projects, the division also produces an annual forecast of the state’s economy. It gives communities access to sophisticated business analysis that helps communities advance.
• CSU is partnered with city and county of Denver, the Western Stock Show Association, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and History Colorado to reimagine the North Denver campus that has housed the stock show for 100 years. The planned campus — titled the National Western Center — will emerge as a 250-acre site for year-round education, entertainment and research. CSU plans three buildings within the project and will focus research and outreach on the areas of energy, water, environment, health and food systems — using our own backyard to collaborate with the greatest minds and tackle the global challenge of feeding a skyrocketing world population.
• CU and CSU, along with the University of Northern Colorado, collaborate at the Colorado School of Public Health, which works to promote healthy behaviors and prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. It conducts research, prepares health-care workers and tracks disease. The school works in communities throughout Colorado to provide services and engages in conversations ranging from health-care reform to obesity to marijuana research to the health impact of oil and gas development. Colorado is one of the healthiest states in the country, and the school will help keep it that way.
CSU and CU have been part of the fabric of our state since our universities were founded, respectively, in 1870 and 1876. Our missions demand that we serve Colorado, an obligation we happily accept. From Burlington to Grand Junction, from Trinidad to Carr, we help Coloradans and their communities. We embrace our part in making Colorado a better place, so as you look around, count on continuing to see CU and CSU in your community.
Tony Frank is president of Colorado State University. Bruce D. Benson is president of the University of Colorado.