Colorado State University Leaders Visit La Junta, Rocky Ford Area to Discuss Outreach, Economic Development

Colorado State University System Chancellor Larry Edward Penley, along with university officials, will travel to La Junta and Rocky Ford to meet with area business leaders, community members and university regional staff on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

During the visit, Penley will discuss issues such as economic development with business and community leaders, review the university outreach needs of the community and university research and outreach programs in the area and visit university offices in the area. He also will introduce Colorado State University-Pueblo president Joe Garcia and Lou Swanson, Colorado State University’s newly appointed vice provost of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, to area leadership and university staff.

"Colorado State University’s partnership with Colorado communities is important to the economic stability and quality of life of all Coloradans. Our land-grant mission commits us to take the research and expertise of the university out to Colorado to address critical issues facing the state, ranging from the changing needs of agriculture to the economic health of our rural and urban communities," said Penley. "At Colorado State, we place great importance on our partnership with communities in this area of the state."

Penley will speak with business and community leaders from the region at a noon luncheon sponsored by the La Junta Rotary Club in the Otero Junior College dining room. During the luncheon, centered on the theme of "Your Future, Our Mission: Fulfilling the Colorado State University Promise," Penley will talk about the university’s role in helping the region address issues such as economic development, water and agriculture, and will talk with community members about what the region needs from the university in support of those issues.

During the visit, the Colorado State University delegation will travel to Rocky Ford to the university’s Arkansas Valley Research Center. At the center, Penley and Swanson will tour the facilities and talk with university Cooperative Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station and veterinary diagnostic laboratory staff.

Penley and Swanson will then travel to Pueblo where he will host the Festival on the Hill from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24 on the Colorado State University – Pueblo campus. The event, celebrating the diverse cultures of the region, is open to the public.

On Friday, Penley will meet with the university’s governing body, the Board of Governors, in Pueblo for its regularly scheduled meeting, and will attend some opening events at the Colorado State Fair.

Swanson, longtime sociology professor and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, is the university’s new vice provost for outreach and strategic partnerships. The new position was created during the campuswide reorganization last fall. Swanson, a rural sociologist, has spent the majority of his 24-year career focused on the sociology of agriculture and rural community studies. In his new role, Swanson will oversee Cooperative Extension, Continuing Education, the new Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, the Colorado Institute for Public Policy and the Office of International Programs – all of which are working together addressing the changing needs of agriculture, rural communities and growing urban communities in the state. Swanson started his new post on Aug. 14.

In October, Penley announced a reorganization as a result of aggressive goals set by the university’s new strategic plan. The reorganization and filling of the vice provost for outreach and strategic partnerships position allows the university to strengthen its ability to achieve excellence in the areas of teaching and learning, retention and graduation, admissions and access and outreach and service. Additionally, the reorganization positions the university to assist communities with rural outreach, scientific discovery and public policy research.

Garcia, a Harvard-trained lawyer with extensive public service in southern Colorado, was named president of Colorado State University-Pueblo in June. A strong leader in Colorado higher education and in the business world, Garcia is charged with overseeing the critical role of CSU-Pueblo for the state and region.

Garcia’s impressive employment history is diverse. He previously worked as the Rocky Mountain States representative for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and as a partner in the Colorado Springs office of law firm Holme Roberts & Owen. He obtained his law degree from Harvard Law School and his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Garcia has twice been selected as Hispanic Business Magazine’s "Hispanic Legal Elite" and as "President of the Year" by the Colorado Community Colleges State Student Advisory Council while serving as president of Pikes Peak Community College. Colorado Springs NAACP also named him "Outstanding Administrator in Higher Education" in 2004. Garcia also serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Colorado Springs YMCA, the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., the Downtown Depot Arts District, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs. He joined the board of directors of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority from 1994-1999 under then Gov. Roy Romer. Gov. Bill Owens appointed him again in 2001. He currently serves as chairman.