The Great Experiment: CSU at 150 Documentary to Air on PBS

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A full-length documentary about the history of Colorado’s land-grant university, produced in honor of Colorado State University’s 150th birthday will air on Rocky Mountain PBS at 8 p.m. on Oct. 1.

The documentary, titled The Great Experiment: CSU at 150, was originally to be screened on campus last spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that and delayed its release. After its debut, the film is expected to be re-aired by Rocky Mountain PBS in the coming months; details will be posted on the station’s online programming schedule.

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Producer Frank Boring said making the documentary for the university’s sesquicentennial celebration was rewarding because it revealed the long-standing moral character of the institution.

“If you look back at CSU’s 150 years, all of the trials, tribulations, and tragedy, it really came down to us doing the best we could for our students,” he said. “We always tried to do the right thing.”

Boring and his team unearthed some video gems, including footage of a 1919 football game in Fort Collins that shows former mascot Teddy the Bear on the sidelines and riding in a car after a resounding 49-7 victory over the University of Colorado.

But for Boring, the highlight of making the documentary was doing the interviews. He said one of the best conversations he had was with Yufna Soldier Wolf, former director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office and descendant of some of the first inhabitants of the land on which CSU and Fort Collins sit.

“I felt this was an important piece, to have the Native American voice, and we were fortunate to find someone whose family had actually lived on this land,” Boring said.
Other good interviews included his conversation with a World War II veteran and alumnus who enlisted after hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor from fellow students as he was riding his bike up to the “A” for a picnic. Boring also got to discuss the elms on the Oval with the city’s first arborist, former horticulture professor Carl Jorgensen, about a month before Jorgensen died.

Boring said he looks forward to having the documentary screened on campus at some point in the future.

“I think a lot of people will be pleased to find out things they never knew about CSU,” he said of the film. “I hope this gives the current generation of students some perspective on the history of their university.”