- Something Old, Something New
- Course Correction
- Where does uranium come from?
- In Memoriam: Melissa Trifiletti
- Town and Gown
- The enduring legacy of Libby Coy-Lawrence
- A Wealth of Health
- Sciences, You’re Coming Home
- Man Behind the Plan
- Marching Band jazzed about new stadium
- Bricks and Brides
- 17th Annual Diversity Symposium in September
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- Researchers prove dancing is good for your brain
- Stadium Sessions
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- Early early career researcher
- Class Notes & In Memoriam
- Congratulations to the Best Teachers of 2017
- Breaking ground on ground-breaking institute
- Boettcher, baker, legacy maker
- Close to the game
- Popular Science
- CSU fingerprints all over successful alumnus
- Perennial Home
- Bringing the Buzz on Game Day
- B is for Better
- Good for what ales you: Old Aggie Lager on tap
HER ENDURING LEGACY
by Nik Olson (’01)
At a time when women in the American west had few educational opportunities, Fort Collins Pioneer Elizabeth “Libby” Coy became the first woman to graduate from a Colorado institution of higher education.
As one of three members of CSU’s first graduating class in 1884, she went on to become a role model for generations of women students – and joined her two classmates in founding the university’s alumni association.
Coy was born in Fort Collins in 1865 to John and Emily Coy, two of the first farmers in the Cache la Poudre Valley who helped found the settler community that became Fort Collins. Before the establishment of Camp Collins, they and a handful of other families made a home in the area to which they’d traveled by covered wagon, living as neighbors with the Native American tribes who then populated the land. John Coy later was one of the founders of the Grange that first erected a shanty to stake a claim for the state agricultural college in Fort Collins, and he created the local fund to raise money to get the college started.
Libby grew up in a young Fort Collins, among the dirt streets and general stores, attending Fort Collins’ public schools. In June 1884, she was among three graduates honored in the first commencement ceremonies for Colorado Agricultural College, which were held on the second floor of Old Main (the only campus building).
After graduating with her bachelor of science, she taught preparatory-level classes at the college before marrying Professor James Lawrence in 1890. The two first met when she had enrolled in the drawing and woodcarving course he taught.
Lawrence, with Libby at his side, served the institution in numerous capacities, including acting president, dean of faculty, building superintendent, and designer of the campus. He is most remembered for having created the new college’s mechanical engineering program, which went on to become one of the finest in the world.
In the 133 years since Coy received her diploma, her presence in Fort Collins endures. At the recommendation of President Charles Ingersoll, Libby joined her fellow graduates, George Glover and Leonidas Loomis, to form the Colorado Agricultural College Alumni Association. She served 14 annual terms as president of the Larimer County Pioneer Society, served as historian of the Fort Collins Woman’s Club, and president of the auxiliary of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. She was also involved with the College Women’s Association. She died at age 78.
The Coy family as a whole was instrumental in the creation of Colorado State University and the entire community. Coy’s father led the effort to create Roosevelt National Forest. Her brother Burgis became a nationally famous engineer who worked on extending the New York subway system to Brooklyn and served as resident engineer for the Moffatt Tunnel Commission. Brother John married the daughter of CSU President Charles Ingersoll. Libby’s son, George Lawrence, graduated in the Class of ’16 and went on to become a lead engineer for Eastman Kodak. The original Coy-Hoffman farm is now home to the Woodward campus in Fort Collins.
But Libby’s legacy as an educational groundbreaker for women students in Colorado is unmatched.