Thousands of Colorado State University students, faculty and staff gathered on campus Tuesday to celebrate a year that brought major successes amid recovery from the 1997 flood.
The university’s annual Fall Picnic began with the traditional address from university President Albert Yates, who praised the campus community for pulling together during a difficult time – and for using the flood recovery as a chance to make the university better.
"It’s important that we take pride in all that has been accomplished since this time last year," Yates said. "Then, I said that if we did not emerge from the recovery better than we had been before the disaster, we would have missed an important opportunity. Regrettably, some of our losses can never be made whole again. But I’m pleased to say that we seized the opportunity – that the changes and improvements made possible by the flood are helping to transform this university in unexpected ways."
Yates noted that changes made possible by the flood include improved classrooms and upgraded technology in many campus buildings; better space for student organizations and services in the lower level of the Lory Student Center; relocation of key academic departments to more desirable spaces; and the opportunity to envision the library of the next century.
Other highlights for the 1997-98 year at Colorado State included the faculty’s efforts to revamp the undergraduate core curriculum and the selection of Colorado State as site for the new federal Natural Resources Research Center.
Yates also took time to recognize the Rams football team, which lost Saturday night to the University of Colorado after a win over Michigan State the previous week.
"We can and should be very proud of Sonny Lubick, his coaches and his team," Yates said. "Sonny and his coaches are among the best teachers I know. They teach our students – athletes and non-athletes – the value of hard work and perseverance, the importance of personal character and the embrace of lofty ideals, including a love for learning. And moreover, they have become tremendous ambassadors for our university."
In laying out the university’s goals for the coming year, Yates offered a series of actions he called the "Agenda for Excellence." These include:
- continuing to work toward an integrated learning experience by adopting teaching approaches that stress and measure learning;
- investing in efforts to retain students and foster relationships based on the ideal that all students can learn and succeed;
- creating an endowed Excellence Fund to underwrite activities that emphasize the university’s commitment to high academic achievement;
- mobilizing resources to better support excellence in teaching and research, including a restructured faculty reward system that mirrors institutional priorities;
- enhancing the university’s visibility;
- strengthening Honors and international programs and focusing on the national competitiveness of students and graduates;
- enhancing scholarship funds to enroll the best and brightest students, independent of background and economic status; and
- continuing to nurture community and pride, placing increased emphasis on investments in faculty and staff support.
"Clearly, we’ve done much, but much remains," Yates told the crowd. "We are forging our own path as we scale this peak of excellence, and the summit is now clearly in view. A year from now, let’s look down upon this point from a height measured in great achievement."