cooperates with rural communities
By LAURELIN KRUSE
ALAMOSA — President of Colorado State University Larry Edward Penley visits the San Luis Valley this week to take a look at the way CSU works together with the rural community.
Penley will meet with leaders of the agriculture industry, area research staff, CSU alumni and community members. He will visit the San Luis Valley Research Center, Sun Edison Solar Plant and one of CSU’s alliance schools.
This is Penley’s third visit to the Valley in his five years as president.
As a land grant university, CSU cooperates with communities throughout the state and emphasizes agriculture and natural sciences. Learning is accomplished outside textbooks and the university’s influence extends far beyond the Fort Collins campus. Penley said CSU is heavily involved in research and is one of the top research universities in the country.
This research doesn’t just take place at the CSU Fort Collins campus. The university administers a facility in the Valley, the San Luis Valley Research Center. Here faculty, graduate students, and other staff improve potato production practices and discover new potato varieties. The facility benefits the Valley by bringing big research to the area and developing improved agricultural practices.
Penley said last time he visited the facility he was impressed by the research pursued by two young CSU alumni. They developed new potato varieties to market. “I walked away understanding the close relationship between [businesses and agriculture],” he said.
CSU also owns part of the Colorado State Forest Service in the Valley. The university cooperates with the forest service on several fire mitigation plans. The project improves the lives of Valley residents and furthers habitat for wildlife and livestock.
In addition to cooperative research, CSU Extension benefits the Valley through services offered to the agricultural community, families and youth.
CSU also has seven alliance schools in the Valley. Penley will visit an alliance school this week. Through these schools CSU focuses on attracting students to post-secondary education. Penley said they often choose rural schools with a high percentage of students on free or reduced lunch.
“These are intended to be joint collaborative relationships,” said Penley.
Through the university’s outreach Penley also hopes to attract students to CSU. “It’s an eye opening experience to go to a major research university,” said Penley.
Penley admits that some students from rural communities can be intimidated by a major research university like CSU. With almost 26,000 students, CSU is more than two and a half times the size of Alamosa. The school offers preview weekends during the summer and meetings with advisors and faculty for students to make the adjustment.
CSU also connects students to the university through special freshman classes and living and learning communities.
“Engagement and relationships tend to make the university more accessible,” said Penley.
CSU has the most Colorado resident students of any university in Colorado. Penley said there is a major emphasis on Colorado residents.
Penley said CSU offers students opportunities for cultural enrichment and gives them something to take home to their communities. “It’s about what you can bring back to the San Luis Valley,” said Penley.