Five minutes with Vice President for Engagement and Extension Blake Naughton

Blake Naughton Portrait
Blake Naughton

In today’s “Five Minutes with SOURCE,” Vice President for Engagement and Extension Blake Naughton sat down to discuss his role in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan and its impact across Colorado State University.

In Courageous Strategic Transformation, Colorado State articulates two goals when it comes to our People and Culture: cultivating a culture of excellence and inclusivity and using our collective skills to achieve shared goals. How do each of these goals resonate for the Engagement and Extension team members who work both on our campuses and across Colorado? 

Across the state, our teams are working together in communities to understand local needs and to facilitate connections and conversations. We discover the story of each community across Colorado, and then CSU’s story as part of that community. How do we do this work? By engaging trust, inclusion, scholarship and teamwork. By creating inclusive partnerships. And by empowering our workforce to discover what’s possible when we come together around shared understanding and goals. It’s our commitment to our land-grant mission, and why these People and Culture goals resonate.

Two more of our strategic imperatives in the plan are Innovation and Impact, and we specifically commit to translating innovation into impact. What’s the role of Engagement and Extension in each of these areas? 

Our team is uniquely positioned to bring the learnings and discoveries happening on campus and in our regional centers, campuses and offices across the state to Colorado communities. The development of the academic master plan includes the potential for less traditional academic offerings that can have a great impact for both individuals and our state. Engagement and Extension is at the frontline for innovation in our education and delivery approaches for lifelong learners, building on the Extension history of sharing university research to learners in all 64 counties, continuing through innovative online and Collaboration Campus programs. We serve as the connector, translating innovation into potential impact that is accessible to all and empowers individuals and communities.

Engagement and Extension has developed a unit-specific strategy — Learn. Serve. Thrive — alongside the Courageous Strategic Transformation. Tell us more about the plan: how does it work in concert with the university-level plan?

In the Office of Engagement and Extension, we’ve developed what we’re calling a learning plan, built around Learn. Serve. Thrive. To Learn is our what, our role in community. To Serve is our how, our empowerment and systems. To Thrive is our why, our green and gold impact aligned with the Courageous Strategic Transformation.  Our plan establishes our aims in each of these areas, and our commitment to learning the best ways to get there. Aligned with the priorities in the university-level plan, it’s both strategic and courageous, and we’re excited about what we’ll learn together as we move forward with this vision. We look forward to sharing more on our plan with communities on campus and across Colorado.

This week, many members of the Engagement and Extension community are attending the annual Colorado Agriculture Forum, sponsored by the Colorado Agriculture Leadership Program and featuring several CSU speakers, including President McConnell. How are events like this forum important to our achievement of Courageous Strategic Transformation? 

Our work happens in communities across Colorado, including communities where agriculture is the heart of the economy. That’s why it’s important to join in events like this week’s ag forum to learn from leaders in the sector and celebrate the impact of individuals who share in our commitment for our state. We strengthen partnerships, build new connections, and discover opportunities for even greater impact – that’s land-grant engagement. Only in learning and working together will we be able to accomplish the objectives in the Courageous Strategic Transformation.

CST Mark RGB Green