Fostering student success
Anne Hudgens set to retire after 37 years at CSU
by Joe Giordano
published June 26, 2020
In her 30-plus years on campus, Anne Hudgens has charted a course that has positioned Colorado State University at the forefront of providing students with the critical resources needed for success.
Hudgens’ fingerprints are visible across the Division of Student Affairs, from Housing and Dining Services — where she started her career at CSU — to the Student Resolution Center and the CSU Health Network, which has become a national model in supporting the health and well-being of students.
Now, after 43 years in higher education – with 37 of those at CSU – Hudgens is retiring from her current role on June 30.
“Looking back, I never would have imagined staying in one place this long, but I’ve had multiple careers at CSU,” said Hudgens who serves as executive director of the CSU Health Network. “A lot of people don’t have that opportunity to be able to make that much change and stay at the same university.”
A deep commitment to helping students has been at the heart of Hudgens’ journey from Residence Life in 1983 to Judicial Affairs in 1989, Campus Life in 2000, Dean of Students in 2008 and the CSU Health Network in 2011.
Throughout it all, Hudgens produced a stream of innovative initiatives impacting areas such as social justice, substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention and medical and mental health services.
A note from Chancellor Tony Frank
I remember the first time I met Anne Hudgens. I was a new VP, and Anne was at a meeting of the President’s Cabinet to make a presentation. I didn’t know who she was at that time, but it was obvious that this was a thoughtful person who cared deeply about the students of Colorado State University.
Over the next 20 years (when did THAT happen??), I had the privilege of getting to know Anne well, to watch her work benefit our campus, and to come to rely on her thinking and counsel. It’s a blessing to any executive to have people in key positions whose work can be trusted. It’s a major benefit to any organization to have leaders whose commitment matches their high competence. It’s a gift to have people like this always committed to sharing their best thinking with honesty and candor.
It’s simply a joy to have all of those things embodied in a person who makes you smile and inspires you to do better. Anne Hudgens has certainly been a major benefit to CSU. And she’s been a blessing, a gift, and a joy to me personally. I’m proud to have worked with her and prouder to call her my friend.
Be well, Anne — I miss you already – tony
Hudgens said she was thrilled when she set foot on campus in 1983. She had previously worked in student affairs positions at the University of Northern Colorado and Iowa State University before arriving in Fort Collins.
“CSU was my dream school,” said Hudgens, who grew up in Boulder. “It was the place I always wanted to work. It has always had the reputation of being the school that cares about students, and the reputation of Student Affairs at CSU was phenomenal.”
As assistant director of Residence Life, Hudgens was deeply involved in training resident assistants and running student leadership and engagement programs. She recalled the memorable times she had helping build community with Dave McKelfresh, the other Residence Life assistant director who now serves as CSU’s executive director for Assessment and Research.
In her time in Residence Life, McKelfresh said Hudgens made positive changes in terms of the staff selection and training processes as well as student programming, adding that she always saw the good in students.
“Anne is a person who always saw the possibilities and always had big ideas,” McKelfresh said. “She made visionary changes throughout her career.”
Focusing on wellbeing of students
Anne Hudgens and Dave McKelfresh celebrate graduation with graduate student TJ Jenkins.
In 1989, Hudgens became CSU’s first director of judicial affairs, developing consultation and resources for students with behavioral concerns.
“I often had people say, ‘That has to be the worst job on campus,’” Hudgens said. “But it really wasn’t — partly because I liked the rascals, and partly because when students are making mistakes there’s usually something else happening. So it’s a really important time to connect to find out what’s happening in their lives and see if you can help.”
“…When students are making mistakes there’s usually something else happening. So it’s a really important time to connect to find out what’s happening in their lives and see if you can help.”
— Anne Hudgens
This holistic approach to helping students has permeated throughout Hudgens’ career.
As CSU’s first dean of students, Hudgens spearheaded an effort to create a continuum of mental health services at CSU to help with suicide prevention.
Hudgens explained that the services were designed to get upstream of the crisis by providing staff with professional training to identify students in trouble. Additionally, the services include an intensive treatment team of professionals to help students who have attempted or considered suicide.
“A part of my personal story that most don’t know is that my own mother committed suicide when I was 19,” Hudgens said. “So having an opportunity to work closely with efforts that would make a difference in suicide prevention was really important to me.”
Designing CSU Health Network
The CSU Health and Medical Center ribbon cutting in 2017.
Hudgens said many of her career changes were unintentional, as was the case when she became executive director of the CSU Health Network.
As dean of students, Hudgens, who oversaw the Hartshorn Health Center and University Counseling Center, wanted to integrate medical and mental health care. “The best practice in health care is to treat people as one whole person,” she said.
In the process of integrating the units, Hudgens said she became passionate about the project, which eventually led her to become executive director of the CSU Health Network.
Today, the CSU Health Network is one of the most widely used student services on campus, housed in a state-of-the-art medical facility. Hudgens played a key role in the design of the $59 million CSU Health and Medical Center.
“It’s taken a decade to get it into a highly functioning integrated unit,” Hudgens said. “I’ve had a lot of ideas come to fruition here. So I’m proud of the impact I’ve had on campus.”
Anne Hudgens with Jeff McCubbin and Blanche Hughes.
Hudgens was all set to retire, and then COVID-19 happened.
Blanche Hughes, CSU’s vice president for Student Affairs, said she sincerely appreciated Hudgens postponing her retirement to assist during the COVID-19 response and continue to lead the Health Network.
“Anne ushered in a new era for the Health Network, with the visioning and construction of the medical center, and has been an ongoing champion for student health and wellness,” Hughes said.
“Anne ushered in a new era for the Health Network, with the visioning and construction of the medical center, and has been an ongoing champion for student health and wellness.”
— Blanche Hughes
As for what’s next, Hudgens said her big post-retirement project is building a garden at her home, which also has two horses and three sheep.
While Hudgens said she’ll miss CSU, she said her aspirations are to “putter around and be a small farmer” for as long as it makes her happy growing tomatoes, peppers and maybe even pumpkins. If it’s like any of her other endeavors she touched at CSU, she’ll probably have a green thumb.
However, in true fashion, that garden will have to wait just a little bit longer. With Lori Lynn taking the reigns as the new executive director of the CSU Health Network while continuing to co-chair the university Pandemic Planning Team, Hudgens will return in August in a temporary role to help the Health Network negotiate the pandemic and the fall semester.
“This has been a great ride, and I’ve worked with some fabulous people in my day,” Hudgens said. “There’s a magic to CSU. There’s something about the quality of the collaboration with the people here that has made it a joy to be here.”