CSU officials, donors herald new natural resources building

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Over a breakfast of eggs and pancakes, a donor and Colorado State University officials six years ago sketched an idea on a napkin of what an expanded version of the Natural Resources Building, home of Warner College of Natural Resources, might look like.

Last Friday, that team, including philanthropist Ed Warner and former WCNR Dean Joyce Berry joined a crowd of 500 — including current Dean John Hayes, CSU President Tony Frank, donors Michael Smith and John and Dolores Goodier, and CSU student and University Facility Fee Advisory Board representative Tristan Syron — at a ceremonial groundbreaking for what will now become a reality: the Michael Smith Natural Resources Building.

In his opening remarks, Hayes acknowledged the role played by Berry. “It was really under her leadership, guidance and vision that this whole project for this new building was born,” he said.

John Hayes
“This was an incredibly transformative and helpful gift, and we’re extremely grateful,” said Dean John Hayes.

The expansion is the first to take place at the college since the late 1970s, and will be completed by Summer 2018. Construction will begin Spring 2017.

The new structure will house a student success center to enhance student recruitment, advising and engagement; teaching and computer labs; and dynamic classroom space funded by the University Facility Fee Advisory Board. It will also provide a new home for the Center for Collaborative Conservation.

CSU will seek the highest possible LEED certification, or an equivalent, for the building expansion, which will add approximately 50,000 sq. ft. to the existing structure.

Elevate student impact

Hayes said the Michael Smith Natural Resources building will “elevate the instructional impact and learning of a whole generation of students, catalyze even stronger bonds within our community in the college and across the campus, and enable even more effective leadership within our programs.”

The total project cost is $20 million; 40 percent of the costs are covered by institutional funding, and 60 percent of funds come from gifts.

Smith “provided the final piece of a funding puzzle” for the building, Hayes said. “It was an incredibly transformative and helpful gift, and we’re extremely grateful,” he added.

Ed Warner, scientist, philanthropist and benefactor of the Warner College, described the momentous breakfast meeting during his remarks. He also discussed the need for an expanded Natural Resources Building.

“Colorado State University is growing dynamically right now and so is this college,” he said. “Our programs are growing not only in size, student body and faculty, but also in reputation.”

While he acknowledged the contributions he and his wife, Jackie, have made to CSU, Warner also remained humble about the role they have played.

“If we have been catalysts in any way, it is because of our love for Colorado State University, our love of higher education, and our love of science,” he said.

‘A very special day’

Smith said the groundbreaking event was a “very special day” for him and his family.

Michael and Iris Smith
Michael and Iris Smith, whose recent gift to CSU will have a transformative impact on three colleges and the new on-campus stadium.

“I am thrilled to be able to provide the needed funds for this much needed and even longer awaited natural resources building,” he said. “It is truly a great honor to have my name on the building where young geoscientists will be studying the industry that I love so much.”

Beyond geoscience, Smith acknowledged forestry, fish and wildlife conservation, natural resource management, and natural resource recreation and tourism programs in the college.

“My entire family truly appreciates how important environmental stewardship is and we are very pleased to support all of these important programs,” he said.

Smith’s generous $13 million gift to the university included $3.7 million to round out funding for an addition to the Natural Resources building, as well as funds for 10 full tuition scholarships in the Department of Geosciences, establishing the Smith Scholars in Geosciences program.

Cornerstone college

CSU President Tony Frank said the expansion “will make a huge difference to one of the cornerstone colleges that make up Colorado State University.”

He applauded the students who contributed financially to this project as well as the donors. Frank described Smith and Warner as “men of immense vision.”

“It’s fitting that on the name of the college stationery, and on the name of this building, their names will be inscribed,” Frank said. Because inside the building, faculty see solutions to research problems that the rest of us don’t see, and students see opportunities to address challenges that our generation has failed at, he added. “They show the same vision that is demonstrated by these two individuals.”

The new building will provide much needed space for a growing college. Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and 300 graduate students are currently enrolled in Warner College. These figures show an uptick of 13 percent over the past four years.

This generous gift helps propel CSU toward its $1 billion “State Your Purpose” fundraising campaign goal that invests in the university’s pursuit of excellence.

To date, CSU has raised more than $672 million and is well on its way to hit the $1 billion milestone by 2020 to celebrate the university’s 150th birthday. To learn more, visit giving.colostate.edu.