CSU Spur is focused not on granting college degrees but on public education, research, and community outreach; its programs center on food, water, and animal and human health, topics central to the globe’s most urgent challenges. Science is on full display at Spur; in many cases, visitors are invited to participate.
CSU Spur includes three buildings, each dedicated to a single area of study: Vida, animal and human health; Terra, food and agriculture; and Hydro, water. Spur’s programs probe connections among these subjects, while also connecting rural and urban communities that define Colorado.
The Vida building was the first to fully open Jan. 7, with the others opening later in 2022. The campus has been constructed with $200 million allocated by the Colorado General Assembly.
Furthering the land-grant mission
The concept for CSU Spur began to germinate in 2008, when leaders of the National Western Stock Show began discussing upgrades to its iconic facilities. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and History Colorado joined the stock show and the City and County of Denver to reimagine the National Western Center. CSU got involved to advance its educational mission as the state’s land-grant university, bringing the number of founding partners to five.
It was a natural fit, because the University and the stock show have shared a focus on education since the inaugural stock show over a century ago.
“Education is the blood that runs through the veins of this project,” CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank said. “Food, water, and health are all things our three-degree granting institutions are really good at in our scientific strength, ability, and reputation. They all represent huge areas of societal need – and are interrelated. They are all topics I think you can use really effectively to engage K-12 students.”
Spur programs seek to shape the future by exciting kids about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math – the STEM fields that drive innovation.
Programs at CSU Spur also involve industry partners in research and innovation. For instance, a state-of-the-art food lab in the Terra building offers outside companies and entrepreneurs the space to develop value-added agricultural products.
Meeting spaces are available for professional gatherings and conferences, such as the CSU System’s annual Water in the West Symposium that offers presentations from national thought leaders in research, government, and industry.
Drawing together a variety of perspectives can generate new ideas, Frank noted. “In particular, we want to bring rural issues into the urban setting for discussion, greater understanding, and collaborative problem-solving.”
This spirit of collaboration has been evident since the outset, as CSU System officials have worked closely with residents in the surrounding Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods to ensure that programs fill needs in the local community.
As just one example, the CSU System has partnered for several years with nearby Bruce Randolph School, a middle and high school, in a variety of activities, including creating scholarships for students from the neighboring ZIP code.
In January 2022, the stock show also opened newly constructed yards and an event center for cattle exhibitions and other activities.
“We are serious about providing a place that celebrates Western heritage, education, and entertainment at facilities that are open 365 days a year,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the National Western Stock Show. “If you want to experience what Western heritage really is, the National Western Center in Denver, Colorado, is the place.”