Work with library in Ethiopia recognized with Ram Pride Service Award

At the May meeting of the CSU System Board of Governors, CSU President Tony Frank presented the Ram Pride Serivce Award to Nancy and Bob Sturtevant for coordinating a three-year book drive to stock the library at Hawassa University in Ethiopia. Photo by William A. Cotton, CSU Photography

The herculean effort of collecting 20,500 up-to-date textbooks and shipping them halfway around the world into the hands of scholars in Ethiopia has earned a trio of Colorado State employees this year’s Ram Pride Service Award.

Bob and Nancy Sturtevant and Paul Evangelista received the Ram Pride Service Award at the May 5 Colorado State University System Board of Governors meeting in Fort Collins. Presented by CSU President and System Chancellor Tony Frank, the Ram Pride Service Award recognizes “service above self” in upholding CSU’s land-grant mission and character.

Bob Sturtevant retired from a long career with the Colorado State Forest Service but has recently returned to CSU part-time, and Nancy now works as a coordinator in the Office of International Programs. Evangelista is a researcher in the Natural Resources Ecology Lab in Warner College, who has worked in East Africa for decades and has formed collaborative alliances in Kenya, Ethiopia and throughout the region.

The book drive started in 2012, when a group from CSU, including Frank and Evangelista, visited Ethiopia’s Hawassa University, where Colorado State has a strategic partnership and strong research relationships. They noticed that while Hawassa had built a new library, it lacked sufficient academic materials to fill the shelves.

Knowing that the Sturtevants were then posted in East Africa as Peace Corps Volunteers – and that they had extensive experience coordinating international book drives — Frank asked them to work with Evangelista to help mobilize a drive to stock the Hawassa library shelves.

Books on shelves

Colorado State University President Tony Frank presents Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory research scientist Paul Evangelista with the Ram Pride Service Award for his work supplying textbooks to Ethiopia's Hawassa University.
Paul Evangelista receives the Ram Pride Award from CSU President Tony Frank.

Collecting materials, which eventually totaled 33,000 pounds, continued for nearly three years; the journey from Fort Collins to Hawassa stretched from April to September of last year. Bob and Paul confirmed last month that the books had reached their final destination and were being used by faculty and students there.

“We actually went back to Ethiopia three times between July and September to make sure all the correct paperwork was filled out and filed with Customs,” Bob said. “When the boxes finally arrived at Hawassa, they had to be sorted out among four colleges in the university before they could be stocked on the shelves.”

The Sturtevants and Frank both gave enormous credit to Dan Kelso, logistics manager for CSU’s shipping and receiving unit, for arranging all the details that got the books to Addis Ababa intact.

“Bob, Nancy, and Paul didn’t have to be persuaded to take on this enormous, all-consuming project in support of one of our partner universities – we asked, they stepped up, and got it done,” Frank said.  “It is difficult to explain the impact this will have on that campus and its scholarly community – but suffice it to say that it will be profound and transformative.”

Frank explained the significance of the Ram Pride award and how this year’s recipients are so deserving of the honor.

“This award recognizes those who ensure the value we place on service is more than just rhetoric – who treat it as a high calling and commit to modeling excellence service in every interaction with students, alumni, parents, and the public,” he said. “CSU’s involvement in East Africa is very much connected to this core mission – and the Hawassa book drive was a wonderful illustration of the impact we can have through our partnerships there.”