Guardian of the trees
Fred Haberecht to retire from CSU after two decades
story by Maggie Hall Walsh
published Nov. 8, 2021
Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
Fred Haberecht will tell you that he doesn’t have a favorite tree on campus.
“Oh, I love all my trees. How can you say which child you love the best? They all have such different personalities,” he will tell you.
But when Haberecht walks around the corner behind the Wagar Building and you see his eyes search for the outstretched branches of a glorious American Elm, it’s clear where his favor rests. “This is our most lovable tree,” he says quietly; almost reverently. “This is the tree you would most want to hug.”
For 20 years, Haberecht has been the guardian of the trees at Colorado State University. And the buildings and spaces. And the people. You’ve seen him in meetings for topics ranging from bicycle safety to construction projects to crisis management. He’s played a key role in solemn ceremonies, sporting events and campus emergencies. He is well known as the collaborator, the peacemaker, and often, the voice of reason. People rarely use his last name – they don’t need to. Just say, “Fred,” and most everyone will know who you’re talking about.
In December, Haberecht will retire from CSU after two decades of dedicated and impactful service to the University and surrounding community. Haberecht joined the Facilities Management team as a landscape architect, but his responsibilities quickly morphed into a more general campus planning role. His goal has always been to create, protect and preserve the physical spaces on campus that set the stage for lifelong stories. The Oval. The free speech zone. Danforth Chapel. The Great Green. The campus arboretum. The University Center for the Arts.
“I have been given an opportunity to be a good steward for all these grand places and experiences, these touchstones for life,” he said. “Since I started, the campus is a more vibrant, people friendly and physically accommodating place than it was. Our role is to create and preserve places where people have life changing and exciting experiences.”
“I have been given an opportunity to be a good steward for all these grand places and experiences, these touchstones for life.”
— Fred Haberecht
Fred Haberecht’s goal has always been to create, protect and preserve the physical spaces on campus that set the stage for lifelong stories such as the Oval (left), the campus arboretum and the University Center for the Arts.
His campus planning work is what has defined Haberecht in the University staff lists, but his human touch is really what has defined his reputation at CSU. “Quite simply, Fred is one of the most ardent and stalwart caretakers of everything, and everyone, at CSU. His respect for our campus buildings and people have made him a leader in the growth of our physical surroundings while reminding us all that the traditions and history we all share are valuable and worth preserving,” said Lynn Johnson, CSU vice president of university operations. “CSU is a better place because of Fred, and we will all miss him.”
Longtime coworkers have a lot to say about Haberecht. They define him as a leader who doesn’t make you feel like you’re being led, an intent listener who isn’t afraid to share emotion and a large (he’s 6 feet 8 inches tall), quiet and reassuring presence, in good times and in bad. They call Haberecht a trustworthy go-to guy with a quick smile, ready to land a corny joke to break the tension. He is a fierce advocate for public art, the value of open spaces and accessibility, they say. “His legacy is the culture of trust and consideration that he shares with his team and colleagues,” said one coworker.
Haberecht (left) is presented with the Distinguished Administrative Professional Award by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations, at the Celebrate! Colorado State Awards ceremony in 2019. Haberecht with Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs, in 2016.
In his typical self-deprecating way, Haberecht brushes off compliments and says the greatest testament to his 20 years at CSU comes when he walks around campus and sees students studying in Sherwood Forest or lounging on the Oval or spouting opinions at the Stump on the Plaza. To see the small spaces being utilized and to witness students and employees safely traveling through the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly core of campus. “These are vehicles for great experiences. Successful planning makes that happen,” he said. “My time here has been all about telling the story of CSU and everyone connected to her and creating safe and memorable stories for everyone. I am just part of a continuum of progress, which is rewarding and humbling. What a great gig, huh?”
Haberecht said he looks forward to traveling with his wife, Becky, and spending more time with his CSU alumni children Freddie and Hannah. He plans to go back to his landscape architecture roots and will most certainly be seen riding his bicycle around campus. Keep your eyes open for Fred enjoying lunch on the Oval or reading a book in the sun in some small green space tucked away behind a building. Or, more likely, hugging that American Elm behind Wagar.
Fred Haberecht retirement celebration
Date: Thursday, Nov. 11, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Location: Lory Student Center, Ballroom D
Formal remarks start at 2 p.m. Please feel free to share fun stories and words of appreciation. Light refreshments will be served.