Q&A with Secretary Tom Vilsack

Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (head shot)
Tom Vilsack

In mid-2017, Tom Vilsack, former United States Secretary of Agriculture and Governor of Iowa, joined Denver Water and the Colorado State University System as a Strategic Adviser of Food & Water Initiatives at the National Western Center

As part of his role with the University, Vilsack is leading efforts for Colorado’s inaugural Water in the West Symposium, scheduled for April 26-27 in Denver. In collaboration with Denver Water, the event will highlight water research, education, policy, and innovation in Colorado and the Western region. The Symposium will create a platform for shaping the partnerships and focus of the Water Resources Center, which will be the first building constructed as part of the National Western Center campus, and the first of three CSU buildings on the site.

Vilsack brings decades of leadership as a politician, lawyer, and thought leader to his work with the National Western Center, and shares his perspective on the importance of the project, below.

What are you most excited about regarding CSU’s role at the NWC?

The most exciting aspect of CSU’s involvement in the National Western Center is the potential to lead Colorado, the West, and the world on better and more efficient use and conservation of scarce water resources.

Why is the NWC project important from your perspective?

I remain concerned about the ability of Colorado and the West to support growing cities, communities, and a vibrant agricultural economy if we don’t tackle the issue of water resources. We all have a stake in making sure we use water in the most efficient way possible. If we do this, we can see city and farm working collaboratively. The National Western Center embodies the concept of urban-rural collaboration, and as it expands and improves the venue, the collaboration will deepen and provide the opportunity to tackle the tough issues that could divide us.

What is one thing you would want people to know about the NWC project?

I would hope that people know that CSU is as concerned about the local impact of the National Western Center as it is about the regional and global impact of the Center’s work.

About Secretary Tom Vilsack

Former Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack now holds several roles, including president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC); a Strategic Advisor of Food & Water Initiatives at the National Western Center as part of the Colorado State University System team; and Global Chair for the International Board of Counselors on Food & Water Initiatives.

Vilsack’s work with the CSU System and Denver Water supports the growing educational partnership at the new National Western Center in Denver — a $1.1 billion redevelopment project that will convert the historic site into a year-round destination for entertainment, research and educational opportunities, and agricultural business innovation and incubation. Prior to his current roles, Vilsack served eight years as the Nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture, two terms as the Governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate, and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Vilsack received his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and his law degree from Albany Law School in New York.

Colorado State University and the National Western Center

Colorado State University has made a long-term commitment to the reimagining of the National Western Center in north Denver, and the communities surrounding the project. Efforts are underway to create partnerships with community schools, nonprofits and businesses, and to actively engage in the community.

A key and founding partner in the National Western Center, CSU will have three buildings within the 250-acre campus upon completion. The project, which will break ground in the coming years, expands and regenerates the current National Western Stock Show site, turning it into a vibrant, year-round experiential, community-centric, life-long learning destination in the heart of Denver. 

As Colorado’s land-grant university, CSU’s mission of research, service, and access, aligns with the outreach mission of the National Western Center. CSU’s plans at the new campus focus on research and education programming in the areas of food systems, water, environment, energy, and health. The University has initiated programming and service outreach efforts before buildings are constructed, as part of its commitment to the area. For additional information, visit nwc.colostate.edu.