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Amy Parsons reflects on work done in 1st year as CSU president

Colorado+State+University+President+Amy+Parsons+stands+in+the+foyer+of+the+Lory+Student+Center+Jan.+30.+Parsons+recently+celebrated+her+one-year+anniversary+as+president+of+CSU.
Collegian | Garrett Mogel
Colorado State University President Amy Parsons stands in the foyer of the Lory Student Center Jan. 30. Parsons recently celebrated her one-year anniversary as president of CSU.

It’s been a busy year for Colorado State University President Amy Parsons as she’s adjusted to her new role at the helm of the university. Parsons took office as the 16th president of CSU Feb. 1, 2023. In the year since, Parsons has settled into her position and is ready for the years to come.

As her first year in office draws to a close, Parsons reflected on her inaugural year and said she’s proud of the work that’s been done and is excited for the future. 

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One of the accomplishments she said she’s most excited about is filling out the leadership team at the university.

“We spent a lot of time this year building the team, hiring into leadership positions, running searches and onboarding new people,” Parsons said. “I think that here at, you know, January, a year later, almost at the one-year mark, we finally assembled the entire leadership team — the whole cabinet at CSU — for the first time.”

An alumni of CSU’s College of Liberal Arts, Parsons has a long history with the university. She said she feels that this connection with CSU gives her a unique perspective on her role. 

“I’ve always had this love for CSU since a very young age,” Parsons said. “I worked here as a student and loved my time at CSU and the friends that I made. And since then, I’ve always been a fan of CSU.

In addition to having been a student at the university herself, Parsons has also worked within the university system in a number of roles. She previously held the positions of executive vice chancellor of the CSU System, vice president for university operations and deputy general counsel and associate legal counsel in the general counsel’s office.

“I was a student here first. I’m a parent of students here. So I’m naturally around students all the time, and that’s the best part of the job, and that’s why we’re here. That’s our top priority.” –Amy Parsons, CSU president

Parsons also has a child who is a current student at CSU, which she said has given her experience that influences how she views her role.

“I look at the university through a lot of different lenses,” Parsons said. “I did a number of different jobs at CSU, so I do think that I have a unique and different perspective on the university in addition to being the president. That really helps inform my priorities, my enthusiasm, my energy and my love for the whole university community.”

Parsons cited her love for the university as a driving influence on her goals as president. Sharing her energy and using it to uplift different aspects of the university have been a central focus for her. 

“I also had a goal of really bringing new energy to CSU, bringing as much energy and focus on what we have going on wherever I can,” Parsons said. “Just this last weekend, we sold out a women’s basketball game for the first time in 25 years. Things like that really just bring the energy level up on campus for our students and our faculty and staff.”

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A large part of achieving that goal has been using her position to put a spotlight on as many areas of the university as she can. Parsons said social media has been the main tool she uses to do this. 

“How I view what we do on social media is just using my platform to shine a light on those events, right, to really be able to amplify the message that they’re bringing out there,” Parsons said. “We really try to prioritize shining a light on all of the different aspects of the university, including the cultural centers, what’s happening in the classrooms, the great research that’s going on at the university and individual student and faculty accomplishments.”

Parsons has prioritized being on campus and attending events when she is able to, though she acknowledged that her schedule does not allow her to make an appearance at everything she would like to. She said this is because she views highlighting students and giving them her focus as a vital responsibility in her role as president.

“Wherever I go, I’m spending time with the students and shining a light on them,” Parsons said. “I learn something from every student that I talk to: why they came to CSU, what they’re learning at CSU, how we can make their experience better. So that’s really a major part of my job: to be connected to the student body.”

A challenge faced by the university that Parsons is currently concerned with is the budget in the state of Colorado. 

Colorado has the second-lowest amount of state funding for higher education in the country something that Parsons said is an important consideration as she works toward the future of the university. 

“A very important part of my job is advocating at the statehouse for more resources for higher ed so that we can both keep tuition low and invest in excellence at the university,” Parsons said.

In regard to current goals and focusing on the future, Parsons said a main focus is investing in excellence. Specifically, she said she hopes to continue moving forward with a focus on faculty and research at the university.

“We have an amazing group of faculty and researchers here at CSU, and you see that playing out right now,” Parsons said. “We’re setting records in our research expenditures. We just this week received a brand-new award in the CO-WY Engines yesterday, which is an amazing award for CSU to be a part of.”

The award comes from the U.S. National Science Foundation and reflects research that CSU was a part of in renewable energy technology. Parsons said awards like these would not be possible without university faculty. 

Parsons is also very focused on democracy and getting students involved in the political system. 

“I believe that big public universities play a really important role in democracy, especially land-grant institutions like CSU,” Parsons said. “I think that this is a place where CSU can play a really important role and get all of our students and faculty and staff involved in democracy.”

Another key focus is that student success remains of the utmost importance, Parsons said.

“I was a student here first,” Parsons said. “I’m a parent of students here. So I’m naturally around students all the time, and that’s the best part of the job, and that’s why we’re here. That’s our top priority.”

Reach Hannah Parcells at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @hannahparcells.

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About the Contributors
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.
Garrett Mogel, Photo Director
Garrett Mogel is a third-year journalism student with a second field in philosophy. He is one of two photo directors for the 2023-24 school year.  Growing up in Colorado and surrounded by dreamlike landscapes and adventure sports, it was only a matter of time before Mogel picked up a camera. For over a decade, Mogel explored Colorado, portaging rivers, postholing through several feet of snow, rappelling over cliffs and skinning up mountains, all with a camera in hand. Through his adventures, Mogel began attaching stories to images and began to engage viewers in conversation about their favorite areas. Eventually, Mogel’s passion for photography and storytelling drew him to pursue a degree and career in photojournalism.  In his years at college, Mogel has worked with The Collegian every year. In progressing through the publication, Mogel has seen all the ways student media fosters growth both individually as well as through collaboration. Additionally, the opportunity to witness how impactful a story can be on a personal, organizational and community level is his greatest lesson thus far.  Beyond The Collegian, Mogel still finds time to appreciate his Colorado upbringing. When not on assignment, he can usually be found mountain biking, skiing, camping, river surfing or at home planning his next adventure.

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