Blake Naughton hired as Vice President for Engagement and Extension

Blake Naughton portrait

Blake Naughton, an expert in education policy and administration, has been named vice president for Engagement and Extension at Colorado State University, leading the renamed Office of Engagement and Extension effective Dec. 1. In this role, he will advance CSU’s engagement and outreach missions and oversee CSU Extension, CSU Online, the Colorado Water Center, and the Office of Community and Economic Development.

Naughton comes to CSU from his role as associate vice chancellor for extension and engagement at the University of Missouri, where he provided day-to-day leadership focused on providing high-impact extension and continuing education programming in the areas of agriculture, youth, the economy, and health. He has worked in higher education for two decades.

“Colorado State University is committed to serving our state through our service mission and by providing research-based solutions to the help Coloradans overcome complex challenges,” said President Joyce McConnell. “Because of this commitment, we are thrilled to welcome Blake to our team. He is a recognized leader in developing partnerships, improving education, and leading the renewal of educational institutions, and he will help us strategically transform how CSU serves Colorado’s communities.”

As Naughton steps into his new role, he will work closely with a strong leadership team, including Ashley Stokes, who will serve as associate vice president for Engagement and Extension and will provide day-to-day executive leadership of CSU Extension. Stokes joined CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2015 as the Assistant Dean for Veterinary Admissions and Student Services.  Since then she has also held progressive leadership roles in CSU Engagement and Extension.

“Ashley Stokes is a wonderful asset to CSU Extension,” McConnell said. “She is respected and highly regarded both on campus and across the state, particularly in the agricultural community. We are delighted to have her move forward in a leadership role.”

Colorado State’s Office of Engagement and Extension is one of the most institutionally comprehensive commitments to engagement and outreach among land-grant and public universities nationally. The more than 400 employees in the unit work across all eight CSU colleges and closely with the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“I could not be more excited to join the tremendous staff and faculty at CSU who are dedicated to developing individuals and communities through educational programs and services around the state and online,” Naughton said. “CSU demonstrates a national model of the Engagement and Extension mission and I am honored to work with President McConnell, as well as with Colorado partners and stakeholders, toward delivering on the promise of a land-grant university.”

Policy expertise

Naughton grew up in Missouri and has worked as a policy researcher for Congress, the state of Missouri, and a national center focused on higher education. He led educational programs and engagement services on the faculty at Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the College of Education at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

He holds a bachelor’s in technology policy from Stanford University, a master’s in education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in education administration and policy analysis, also from Stanford. Building on his expertise in educational organizations, policy, youth and workforce development, Naughton will also join the faculty of the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences as a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

With a mission to provide educational information and programs that safeguard health, increase livelihood, and enhance well-being, the Colorado State University Extension Service serves all of Colorado’s 64 counties. In 1914, Congress authorized land-grant universities in every state to feed research-based information to Extension agents in each county.

Colorado State University Online, formally named the Division of Continuing Education, has been delivering online and distance programs developed at the flagship research campus in Fort Collins, Colorado, for more than 50 years. CSU Online serves more than 10,000 students with 3,500 students seeking online degrees or certificates.

The Colorado Water Center is one of 54 Water Resources Research Institutes created by the Water Resources Act of 1964, which collectively form the National Institutes for Water Resources. As a division under CSU’s Office of Engagement, the Center aims to connect all water expertise in Colorado’s higher education system with research and education needs of Colorado’s water managers and users, building on the rich water history at Colorado State University

Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Center, is a national expert in his field. Since the retirement of longtime Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson earlier this fall, Waskom has been serving as interim vice president for Engagement and Extension. McConnell had high praise for him in both of his roles.

“Reagan is an incredibly thoughtful, proactive leader,” McConnell said. “I am grateful to him for taking on this critical interim role over these last few months. We have benefited from his wisdom and feel confident in moving forward now as Blake steps into the permanent leadership of CSU Engagement and Extension.”