Peace Corps co-founder Maury Albertson honored as CSU celebrates 141 years

—————-This article was originally published in Today@Colorado State on Feb. 3, 2011—————————

On Feb. 10 and 11, we’ll honor the creation of Colorado State as an institution, the values which have sustained it, and its mission of service through teaching, research and engagement with Founders Day celebrations. Events will take place at the State Capitol and on campus in Fort Collins.

Maury Albertson awarded Founders Day Medal posthumously

During this year’s Founders Day celebration, Maury Albertson will be recognized posthumously as the second recipient of the Founders Day Medal. The medal will be presented to his widow, Audrey Olsen Faulkner, for his great contributions to the university. Albertson, a Centennial Emeritus Professor, served Colorado State as the first director of the Colorado State University Research Foundation, or CSURF; director of International Programs; and professor of civil engineering. One of Albertson’s most recognized contributions was his critical role in the formation of the Peace Corps.

Maury Albertson, Emeritus Professor, Civil Engineering, photograhed at his home in Fort Collins.
Maury Albertson, Emeritus Professor, Civil Engineering, photograhed at his home in Fort Collins.

Albertson arrived at Colorado A&M – now CSU – in August 1947 to help bolster the Department of Civil Engineering’s civil engineering and hydraulics programs. By 1958, Albertson had moved from being a professor in the college to overseeing all research projects on campus. In 1960-1961, Albertson was the director of the U.S. Congressional study on the Point 4 Youth Corps, which led to creation of the Peace Corps.

“Professor Albertson will be remembered as one of the truly great figures in the history of Colorado State University,” said Colorado State’s President Tony Frank. “It was primarily because of his work as a professor that CSU attracted and graduated its first doctoral student and assumed its full role and responsibility as a research university. He was an innovative teacher and scholar who dedicated his life to improving the living conditions of people around the world and who helped create, through the Peace Corps, a vehicle through which generations of young people have channeled their compassion and commitment into useful and important work for developing communities. CSU is grateful and honored to have been Professor Albertson’s academic home.”

Read about other Founders Day Medal Recipients

Honoring creation of university

On Feb. 11, 1870, Colorado Territorial Gov. Edward McCook signed the Colorado Morrill Act establishing the State Agricultural College in Fort Collins. In the 141 years since, the institution, now known as Colorado State University, has become one of the nation’s leading research universities with world- renowned research in infectious disease, atmospheric science, clean-energy technologies and environmental science. Annual research expenditures exceed $300 million annually.

Colorado State has played an essential role in the development of Colorado. The first graduating class in 1884 had just three students. Today, Colorado State’s Fort Collins campus has an enrollment of more than 26,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. Colorado State’s 90,000-plus Colorado-based alumni account for more than $4.1 billion annually in household income for Colorado.

Outreach to citizens of the world

In the post World War II era, Colorado State’s legacy of outreach to citizens of Colorado expanded to reach citizens of the world, highlighted by the work of Maurice Albertson, who led a CSU team that conducted a feasibility study which led to the creation of the Peace Corps.

Colorado State’s mission of teaching, research and engagement continues through a focus on economic development for rural communities across the state; a commitment to access to top-quality education for all Colorado students; serving as a cornerstone of the Colorado economy by creating a skilled workforce including more STEM graduates that any other state institution; and innovation and leadership in Colorado’s growing new-energy economy.