‘Place’ matters in APLU award

Place matters. And at Colorado State University, place makes an award-winning difference.

Colorado State has won a top national Innovation and Economic Prosperity University award for its impact on economic development, announced today by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities at its annual meeting in Austin, Texas. CSU received the honor in the “Place” category.

CSU President Tony Frank
CSU President Tony Frank

“This award is tremendous recognition for the university,” Colorado State University President Tony Frank said. “At Colorado State we’ve made real investments in connecting our faculty, researchers and students across disciplines, and as a result we’ve seen a growing wave of innovation that sweeps across the university and throughout our broader community. CSU is a place where we’re seeing innovation and economic prosperity because we’ve rolled up our sleeves and really committed ourselves as partners in an unusually inventive community. It’s very exciting. There’s a lot more work to do, and we all can’t wait to be part of where we go next.”

Frank, who serves on the APLU’s Board of Directors and is a member of the group’s Commission on International Initiatives, was on hand to accept the award.

Colorado State was among four IEP winners. Others include Arizona State University in the Connections category, Montana State University in the Talent category, and Purdue University in the Innovation category.

“Economic engagement is a central component of public universities’ work,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public institutions are working to advance economic opportunity and drive prosperity in their communities. The IEP Award winners have established themselves as exemplary institutions in this space, and we applaud their important leadership.”

Three case studies

The Place award recognizes Colorado State for excelling in community, social and cultural development work. Three cases studies helped to tell CSU’s story: the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, cookstove manufacturer – and CSU spinoff – Envirofit, and the Powerhouse Energy Campus – home to CSU’s Energy Institute.

The School of Global Environmental Sustainability serves as a hub integrating sustainability studies with the sciences, arts, humanities and business. Last year, 45 different majors were represented and more than two dozen interdisciplinary research teams were established, including all of CSU’s eight colleges.

Envirofit started at CSU’s Advanced Cookstoves Laboratory, attempting to solve a problem for roughly half the world’s population that cooks on small open-flame stoves. The goal was to make a stove which burns fuel more efficiently and releases a fraction of toxic emissions. Envirofit has now sold more than a million low-emission cookstoves, created 2,400 jobs and prevented 17 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions to date.

The Powerhouse Energy Campus is one of the nation’s top academic laboratories and a showcase of clean energy research and technology. The Energy Institute serves as a nucleus of research, education and outreach for CSU faculty, staff and students in five focus areas: access to energy, energy systems and devices, energy and water, energy policy and human behavior, and environmental impacts. The Institute employs a unique interdisciplinary approach to develop innovative solutions to energy challenges that translate science into global societal impact.

“Recognition of CSU’s commitment to its land-grant mission by APLU is a great honor,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for engagement and director of CSU Extension. “The Office of Engagement and, specifically, our Office of Community and Economic Development have been focusing on workforce development and technological innovation initiatives in Fort Collins and across Colorado. CSU Engagement and Extension are adding value for our large entrepreneurial population and to local and regional economies.”

“The IEP place award recognizes that the creative process of research discovery and innovation requires creating a unique environment where people can meet, engage and share ideas, passions, and visions,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research. “This is ultimately what makes CSU unique – in that we actively seek out cultural integration and diverse practices to optimize our land grant driven impact.”

Next steps

The next phase of work surrounding the IEP initiative includes:

  • Engaging with regions across Colorado to connect CSU System assets to emerging community issues and opportunities;
  • Publishing an updated, comprehensive analysis of the CSU System’s economic impact and contributions at the local, regional, and state level;
  • Creation of a Provost’s Council for Engagement, open to all eight academic colleges. Council members will serve as champions for engaged scholarship, working closely with academic leadership and faculty to improve support and rewards for this work on a variety of fronts.

“Our newly constituted Provost’s Engagement Council will help us drive the University forward at a faster trajectory in our engagement efforts,” said Provost Rick Miranda. “Our accomplishments to date have been driven in large measure by faculty from across the University, and this Council will solidify communication and hopefully get even more faculty involved in the exciting work to be done.”

Place of invention

The IEP Universities Place award represents further recognition of Colorado State’s efforts to nurture opportunities for collaboration and innovation with public and private partners. CSU and the City of Fort Collins were recently recognized in a five-year exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution as one of six “Places of Invention” throughout American history, showcasing the region’s groundbreaking work in clean energy development. This achievement was chronicled in the award-winning Rocky Mountain PBS documentary How a Place Matters.

IEP University

IEP Designee LogoIn July, Colorado State was one of six public universities nationwide named in APLU’s fourth annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities, and is the only university named in Colorado. In all, there are 54 IEP universities nationwide. The designation identifies institutions working to advance the economic well-being of their states, regions and the nation through a variety of efforts including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

Each year at the APLU annual meeting, four institutions that were designated as Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities receive awards recognizing their exemplary work in this arena.

For more information on Colorado State’s ongoing efforts as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University, please contact Paula Mills in the Office of Community & Economic Development at paula.mills@colostate.edu.