Rams in the Rockies: The 2015 faculty tour

On an early morning in August, nearly three dozen faculty members and administrators loaded onto a large CSU bus and headed west. Why? To see what the university’s impact around Colorado actually looks like.

As the state’s land-grant institution, Colorado State University faculty provide students a combination of intellectual classroom pursuits and real-time hands-on experiences in the field and laboratory. And so faculty from nine different colleges and units headed out for a couple days of field work themselves.

Traveling seminar

The Rams in the Rockies Tour is a two-day traveling seminar designed for recently hired and newly tenured faculty, new administrators and new student leaders. Invitations are issued through CSU’s Office of the Provost.

Jim Pokrandt, community relation director of the Colorado River District, talks with members of the Rams in the Rockies Tour along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood, Springs.
Jim Pokrandt, community relation director of the Colorado River District, talks with members of the Rams in the Rockies Tour along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood, Springs.

“Colorado State’s land-grant mission demands that we bring the assets of the University to every corner of our state, and we strive to be a model for the nation in our interactions with stakeholders in virtually every county,” said Provost Rick Miranda. “Our Ram Tour is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and learn more about our engagement activities by visiting with partners and colleagues who are working so effectively to represent CSU. This year our new faculty were especially impressed with our university’s involvement in water issues that are so fundamental to our environment, economy and food systems. Colorado is our campus – and we couldn’t have a more beautiful one! ”

Third annual tour

Miranda and Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson led the third annual CSU faculty Ram Tour to Colorado’s Western Slope on Aug. 13-14. CSU Extension, Colorado State Forest Service and the Colorado River District were among the hosts and presenters for the faculty group as they visited Georgetown and Glenwood Springs before reaching Palisade. Along the way, faculty learned about water, forest health and agricultural innovation from community leaders and CSU partners.

“As a new resident of the state, I was happy to confirm firsthand that the rumors are true: Colorado is a beautiful place,” said Henry Adams, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics. “I enjoyed learning about some of the issues and challenges (such as water rights) facing our Colorado communities, and I was impressed to learn how engaged CSU is in helping these communities develop solutions.”

Each year, the tour travels through a Colorado region to meet CSU community partners, talk with current CSU students and alumni, and learn from regional leaders. The tour deepens participants’ understanding of CSU’s existing community partnerships and provides opportunities to network within and across faculty cohorts. The tour is supported by the Vice President for the Office of Engagement and CSU Online.

“I thought that the Ram Tour was valuable in two respects,” said Jacob Roberts, professor and chair of the Department of Physics. “First, it was good to meet CSU personnel and affiliates who work away from campus to gain a personal insight into some parts of the broader missions of CSU as a land-grant institution; it caused me to think about particular connections within our department. Secondly, it was an excellent opportunity to meet colleagues from across the campus and establish both personal and professional connections.”

Making connections

“My favorite part of the Ram Tour was meeting my fellow passengers on the bus,” said Adams. “The Ram Tour is an opportunity to form connections with faculty and administrators from all across CSU — connections which might otherwise take years to develop.”

“We are all ‘too busy’ to go on events like this … or so we think,” said Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist for the Colorado Water Institute. “I had a great time, made some invaluable connections, and learned things about CSU I would have never gotten from anywhere else. If you get the opportunity, do this tour!”

2015 Ram Tour stops and presenters included:

• Agriburbia, Golden (www.agriburbia.com/)
• Glenwood Community Center, Glenwood Springs (www.glenwoodrec.com/)
• Colorado River District (www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/)
• Colorado State Forest Service (www.csfs.colostate.edu/)
• Colorado State University Extension (www.ext.colostate.edu/)
• Two Rivers Park, Glenwood Springs (www.glenwoodrec.com/Two%20Rivers)
• Grande River Vineyards, Palisade (http://www.granderivervineyards.com/)
• Georgetown Loop Railroad, Georgetown (http://georgetownlooprr.com/)