President Job Description

The Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System invites letters of recommendation and applications for the position of President of Colorado State University.

Colorado State was founded as the Colorado Agricultural College in 1870, six years before the Colorado Territory was granted statehood, and it was one of 68 land-grant colleges established by President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Morrill Act. Our tradition of providing a high-quality, affordable higher education to all who have the desire and ability to achieve it runs deep, and CSU remains the “university of choice” for Colorado residents — more Colorado high-school students choose CSU than any other campus.

Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the CSU System’s flagship campus, is on a trajectory of growth and momentum, with a student body exceeding 34,000 students, 7,000 employees, and, as a Carnegie 1 Research Institution, has annual research expenditures exceeding $350 million. CSU has invested more than $1.5B in its physical infrastructure over the last decade, transforming it into one of the most beautiful, state-of-the-art, campuses in the country. CSU is a member of the NCAA at the Division 1 level, Mountain West Conference, with 16 collegiate sports programs. CSU is home to several world leading research centers and programs, including the veterinary medicine program ranked among the top three in the nation and some of the world’s most prestigious programs in animal cancer research, atmospheric sciences, alternative energy solutions, and infectious disease. CSU has 76 undergraduate degree programs and 118 graduate degree programs, and has made significant investments in student recruitment, financial aid, student services, and retention. The last five years has been the most successful fundraising era in the university’s history, just completing a $1B campaign, more than a year ahead of plan.

Faculty at CSU are among the best in their fields and combine classroom learning with experiential learning in the field and laboratory. More than 5,000 CSU students participate in undergraduate research opportunities every year, and even as CSU has grown, we’ve kept our student:faculty ratio at 18:1. Within six months of graduation, 84 percent of students have secured employment or continuing education — and 89 percent of graduates say they would choose CSU again.

CSU educates students both to make a living and to make a difference — and our faculty transform the world through their research, scholarship, engagement, and teaching. This is what it means to be a research university in the 21st century, and Colorado State University is proud to carry on that distinguished academic tradition.


Inspired by its land-grant heritage, Colorado State University is committed to excellence, setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, engagement, service and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States and the world.

CSU has further adopted the following values:


  • Be accountable
  • Promote civic responsibility
  • Employ a customer focus
  • Promote freedom of expression
  • Demonstrate inclusiveness and diversity
  • Encourage and reward innovation
  • Act with integrity and mutual respect
  • Provide opportunity and access
  • Support excellence in teaching and research

The Community

The Colorado State University main campus is located in Fort Collins, an award-winning city of about 171,000 residents, located an hour north of Denver near the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. Easy access to bike trails, hiking, skiing, water sports, rafting, fishing, and other outdoor sports makes Fort Collins an ideal location for those looking for outdoor adventure and natural beauty coupled with a vibrant and diverse community.

The county seat of Larimer County, Fort Collins is 65 miles north of Denver on Interstate 25, 45 miles south of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and within an hour’s drive of such major recreational areas as Estes Park, Red Feather Lakes, Horsetooth Reservoir, and several mountain parks, including the 790,000-acre Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Located at an elevation of 5,000 feet, Fort Collins has a clear, dry atmosphere, more than 300 days of sunshine and generally pleasant temperatures throughout the year. The summer temperature ranges from an average high of 85°F to an average low of 52°F; the winter temperature ranges from an average high of 42°F to an average low of 13°F.
Fort Collins is home to a robust arts and entertainment culture and includes an active local music scene, several museums and theater companies, a vibrant public library district, the civic symphony, and CSU’s own University Center for the Arts. The packed University calendar – athletics events, guest speakers, art exhibits, theater, cinema, concerts – adds to community life. This broad spectrum of cultural and outdoor recreational facilities, the excellent climate, and the mountain surroundings contribute to making Fort Collins an ideal university setting.

The Position

CSU seeks a visionary and accomplished leader who can harness and strengthen this momentum with a focus on academic excellence and entrepreneurial approaches, who understands the role and value of a comprehensive land-grant university, and who will engage and inspire faculty, staff, students, and the surrounding community to achieve a shared vision of excellence. The next President should be an expert communicator and tireless advocate for all of the diverse individuals and communities that make up CSU.
The President is the chief executive officer of the University and has general authority and responsibility for the strategic leadership and management of the institution and its resources, within the direction of the CSU System Board of Governors (a nine-member Board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state senate), and under the supervision of the CSU System Chancellor.
The successful candidate should have:

  • An earned doctorate or other appropriate terminal degree;
  • Demonstrated success as a senior leader in a collaborative work environment;
  • Vision, integrity, leadership skills and experience to engage the entire campus community in maintaining the highest standards of quality and academic excellence in an atmosphere of collegiality and consensus building;
  • Fiscal acumen with demonstrated success in navigating amongst the shifting financial landscapes;
  • A strong appreciation for shared governance;
  • Deep appreciation for public higher education and the land-grant role it plays in the region, including economic development;
  • Successful track record in fund-raising and developing external and community relationships;
  • A strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism and proven track record of developing and implementing programs to support first generation and minority students;
  • A record of sustained involvement in university-wide student success initiatives;
  • The ability to strengthen relationships with other members of the Colorado State University System including other system presidents, the Chancellor and Board of Governors;
  • The commitment, entrepreneurial skills and ability to foster growth of the academic enterprise, ensuring its quality and competiveness, as well as its contribution to economic development;
  • Ability to recognize, develop, recruit and retain talented faculty and staff;
  • Strong communication skills;
  • An appreciation for a strong intercollegiate athletics program.

Application and Nominations

The Presidential Search Advisory Committee invites letters of nomination, applications (letter of interest, resume/CV and contact information for at least five professional references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting Colorado State University. Review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted prior to February 6, 2019 to:

Laurie C. Wilder, President
Porsha L. Williams, Vice President
Parker Executive Search
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2900
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
770-804-1996 ext. 102 or 109 |
Colorado State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability.