Amy Parsons (B.A., ’95) formally introduced herself to students, faculty, and staff as the University’s 16th president in December. But considering Parsons is a proud alumna who has spent the majority of her working career at CSU, the event felt more like a homecoming.
“I am, after all, a student,” Parsons said during her remarks at the CSU System Board of Governors’ meeting after she was confirmed. “That was my first role at Colorado State University when I arrived at 17 years old, and I will always be a student at Colorado State University. That is part of my commitment to all of you today.”
Parsons’ official first day on the job was Feb. 1.
There’s something special about having a Ram leading Rams. Despite how many former students end up working for CSU (of the 7,741 CSU faculty and staff, 2,626 are alumni), Parsons is only the third alum to lead the University.
“As my predecessors in the president’s office would tell you, there are always advantages and disadvantages to being an ‘internal’ candidate, just as there are for people coming in as president with no history at the institution,” she said in an interview. “But I view my experience as an alumna and my deep commitment to this University as great strengths I can bring to the table. I can speak from experience about the profound difference our faculty and staff members make in the lives of their students. I’m in a position to lead and fight for the University now because of the education I earned here.”
The first alum to serve as University President was Isaac E. Newsom (D.V.M., 1904), who became the first dean of the Graduate School in 1941 before assuming the role of president in 1948 for a year after the unexpected death of President Roy M. Green.
Twenty years and two presidents later, Adrian R. Chamberlain (Ph.D., ’55) – the first student to receive a Ph.D. from Colorado A&M – became CSU president in 1969 and served for a decade.
Deep understanding of CSU
Parsons’ deep knowledge and understanding of CSU come from having served in both administrative and teaching roles in Fort Collins. She was executive vice chancellor of the CSU System from 2015-2020; vice president for University operations at CSU from 2009-2015; and deputy general counsel and associate legal counsel from 2004-2009. While working on campus, she taught courses in the Student Affairs in Higher Education master’s degree program.
“I’m absolutely certain that President Parsons’s perspective as an alumna will inform her leadership in a way that will not only benefit the University, but also our entire CSU community,” Alumni Association Executive Director Kristi Bohlender (B.S., ’93; M.B.A., ’95) said. “Seeing the authentic way she connected with fellow Rams and a few Aggies during CSU Day events at the National Western Stock Show a full two weeks before she began her tenure reinforced that belief. Every alum should be excited about the future of their alma mater.”