CSU Salutes Sutherland Legacy

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series Spring - 2014

CSU Salutes Sutherland Legacy with 2014 Founders Day Medal

On February 11, the Colorado State community honored Tom and Jean Sutherland with the prestigious Founders Day Medal in recognition of their exemplary service to the University, Fort Collins, and higher education worldwide.

Longtime colleagues, friends, and admirers applauded as President Tony Frank presented the Sutherlands with the medal at an afternoon ceremony in conjunction with the University’s 144th birthday celebration. In recounting all they have given to the CSU community, Frank noted “their faith in the power of research and teaching to transform lives; their belief in the potential of people and communities; their trust in the bonds among us and the triumph of friendship and love over darkness and fear; and their refusal, ever, to give in to bitterness and cynicism when there is light, and youth, and hope, and love in this world.”

An emeritus professor of animal sciences at CSU, Tom was serving as dean of the faculty of Agriculture and Food Science at American University in Beirut when he was taken hostage in 1985 and held in captivity for more than six years. During that time, Jean remained in Beirut, working for his freedom while continuing to teach English as a second language. Together, the couple became international symbols of courage, strength, faith, and grace under extraordinary pressure.

When Tom was finally freed, the Sutherlands were welcomed home to Fort Collins with the largest community celebration in the city’s history. Longtime community leaders and volunteers, the couple established the Sutherland Family Foundation, which has supported many Fort Collins nonprofits including the Food Bank of Larimer County, Bas Bleu Theatre, and the KUNC radio station. They have also been generous supporters of the Colorado Boys Ranch, CSU agricultural scholarships, the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and Crossroads Safehouse.

“The Sutherlands have been such an inspiration to so many of us at CSU,” Frank said. “In so many ways, they embody the land-grant spirit of learning, discovery, and engagement with our world. This medal is our chance, as a University community, to express our enduring respect and appreciation for them and all they have meant to CSU.”

The Founders Day Medal, created in 2010, is given annually to those whose pioneering efforts have had an extraordinary influence on the character and development of Colorado State University. Past recipients include the late Dr. Maury Albertson, the Monfort Family, Pat Stryker, and the late President Emeritus Bill Morgan and his family.

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