Colorado State University President Albert C. Yates marked the beginning of his 10th year at the university with a retrospective and a vision of what the new millennium holds for the university.
"Colorado State shines as brightly now as ever in its history," Yates said. "It is a place that has persisted in turning adversity to advantage, that has proven time and time again that character and commitment can bring about success under even the most difficult of circumstances. And as a result of this commitment and sheer determination, we’ve managed to effect a dramatic transformation in the quality and stature of this institution."
Yates noted that the year started well with two key events: the announcement that Colorado State moved up an entire tier in the U.S. News and World Report rankings of top national universities, an acknowledgment of the investments made in students and learning; and the Rams victory over the Buffaloes last weekend.
In considering the future, Yates evoked the memories of Barton Aylesworth, president of Colorado State 100 years ago, and Aylesworth’s visions at the dawn of the 20th century.
"I expect he harbored a wish that his small agricultural college would become a school of distinction, a place of vital, creative energy, a responsive and important leader in a rapidly changing world," Yates said. "He might have hoped, too, that some of its pioneering character might survive–that the school’s enterprising spirit and commitment to hands-on learning would remain constant for generations to come. No doubt he asserted then, as we do today, that his institution was well prepared for the new century.
"I think he would be proud if he could see us today."
Yates said that when he first arrived in 1990, plans for the future concentrated on six priorities, which together formed the basis of an "Agenda for Excellence." While great progress has been made on those priorities, Yates said Colorado State must continue to devote time and attention to serving students, improving academic programs and pursuing important scholarship and research efforts.
The priorities of the "Agenda for Excellence" include:
- Undergraduate education – recruiting top students and providing them a rigorous and coherent education; improving classrooms, reducing class sizes, supporting student retention and revamping the undergraduate curriculum;
- Graduate education and research – investing in faculty to allow them to achieve their fullest potential and focusing efforts and resources on those areas with the greatest potential for national and international distinction;
- Diversity – sustaining an environment in which all faculty, staff and students feel welcome, safe and supported;
- Global education – preparing students for their roles as citizens in a global society and pursuing agreements with universities around the world;
- Outreach – extending knowledge to all those who might benefit from it by reaching out to communities across Colorado and respond to the pressing needs of the state and nation through Educational Outreach, Cooperative Extension and other programs; and
- Enabling areas – focusing on strategic planning, fund-raising, community-building, athletics, campus aesthetics and efficiency in management.
"Over the course of this decade, despite our many challenges and distractions, we’ve never wavered in our focus on these same six areas of priority," Yates said. In looking toward the future, Yates said the challenge is no different than what he first proposed in 1990.
"In the year ahead, we must continue our efforts to implement the core curriculum, assure the technical literacy of our graduates, rationalize our proportions of full- and part-time faculty, explore new ways to invest in and support research excellence, complete our plans to address strategies for educating a technology workforce, revitalize our commitment to diversity and internationalism, and demand true progress in our outreach efforts. As always, our work plan for the year is ambitious, but promises excitement and satisfaction."
In light of concerns about civility and other issues at universities and colleges around the country, Yates outlined his vision for initiatives this year to enhance and promote civility at Colorado State.
"I want to say how proud I am of the overwhelming majority of our students – of who they are and as people and how they conduct themselves as representatives of this institution. Things I cherish most about this place are the friendliness and caring nature of our students and their faith in traditional values.
"Let us work to create a culture of decorum and social responsibility – to become, in the words of the Templeton Foundation, our nation’s finest character-building institution," Yates said.