CSU to confer honorary degree on Thomas H. Bailey

Tom Bailey
Thomas Bailey

Colorado State University will present an honorary doctorate on May 11 to Thomas H. Bailey, founder and retired CEO of Janus Capital, a Denver-based asset management firm. The degree will be presented during the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program commencement ceremony for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Bailey, a self-professed late-life cowboy who lives in Carbondale, Colorado, is known for breeding and training competitive cutting horses from his Iron Rose Ranch, with a reputation as a fierce competitor in national amateur and non-professional cutting horse competitions. Over the years, he has provided generous support for CSU faculty and researchers in equine veterinary medicine.

“Thomas Bailey has said that whatever you do in life, you should do it with passion – and his passion has made an extraordinary difference in the advancement of equine health,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “This honorary degree recognizes both his achievements as a legendary business leader and his tireless commitment to advancing equine medical research for the benefit of horses and humans. We are tremendously grateful for all he has done for Colorado State and for equine medicine overall.”

A Michigan State graduate with a master’s degree in business administration from University of Western Ontario, Bailey started his career in money management working on Wall Street as a securities analyst in 1964. Five years later, he relocated to Colorado and founded Janus Capital, starting in a one-room office in downtown Denver with just a few thousand dollars.

Wanting to be free from the bounds and conventions of Wall Street — and pinstripe suits, as he’s pointed out — Bailey’s move to Colorado was intentional. Under his leadership, Janus Capital experienced extraordinary success, becoming one of the country’s most well-regarded and largest money managers. Bailey was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 2004 for his impactful contributions to the business community. He was also recognized in the book, Forbes Greatest Investing Stories, published that same year.

A leader in cutting horse breeding, training

Dr. Christopher Kawcak, a veterinarian and director of Equine Clinical Services at CSU, said that Bailey has truly found his home in the high country.

“It is no surprise that his strategy for picking winning stocks translated to selecting elite broodmares, generating a wildly successful cutting horse breeding and training operation,” he said.

Kawcak is the recipient of the Iron Rose Ranch Endowed Chair in Musculoskeletal Equine Disease and Injury, established by Bailey in 2004.

He first began consulting with Bailey about his horses in 1999, and maintains that relationship to this day. “Tom and I discussed how we could work together to optimize the health and performance of his horses,” Kawcak explained. “Since that time, he has bought and raised some of the best horses in the cutting horse industry, making Iron Rose Ranch a leader in the sport.”

Bailey enhanced his investment in the equine programs at CSU in 2007, establishing a second endowed chair, held by Dr. Pat McCue, to benefit equine reproduction. He also serves on the board of advisors for the Orthopaedic Research Center at CSU, bringing his unique insight and motivation to the program.

“Tom challenges us on a regular basis, providing a no-nonsense perspective on doing the right things,” said Kawcak.

Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said Bailey’s contributions to society are significant.

“Tom has been a pillar in the financial industry and, more recently, he has exhibited this same visionary leadership by supporting our equine veterinary programs,” said Stetter, who lauded Bailey for supporting CSU’s Equine Reproduction Laboratory and Equine Sports Medicine Service.

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, University Distinguished Professor and the founding director of the Orthopaedic Research Center at CSU, praised Bailey’s intellect, progressive way of thinking and philanthropy.

“Tom is an extraordinary man, and his support for our faculty, research and medical services has been critical to our program,” said McIlwraith. “Without his support, we wouldn’t have veterinarians like Dr. Chris Kawcak on our team, and we wouldn’t have achieved all that we have to this day. In addition, Tom has been a pivotal member of our advisory board and has provided excellent insight, which has helped us reach multiple goals and milestones.”