Celebrating the traditions of the College of Liberal Arts

This year’s CSU Homecoming & Family Weekend is all about traditions – those from our past that connect us to our land-grant heritage as well as the new ones we create as students, faculty, and alumni of Colorado State University.

While CSU’s roots are in agricultural sciences, the liberal arts have played a critical role in preparing Rams to be engaged citizens and effective leaders over the past 148 years. In the words of Elijah Edwards, the first president of Colorado State University, “… it cannot be an excellent university unless it has a vital, strong, and effective ‘liberal arts’ core in its instructional program.”

Our traditions of academic excellence, student involvement, and diversity (and our stellar marching band!) are a lasting reminder of the impact the liberal arts has on the CSU legacy.

  • Student Organizations: The Philosophian Literary Society was the first student organization at CSU, dating back to November 1879. The society operated similarly to a debate club to challenge students to consider philosophical issues. Now, the College of Liberal Arts is home to 43 student organizations and clubs – including a Philosophy Club and Ethics Bowl debate team!
  • Creative Artistry: In the 1920s, the drama club became a vital organization within the College under the direction of Ruth Jocelyn – so much so, that many came to associate the drama club as the college itself. A century later, the performing arts are still an integral part of the College of Liberal Arts with academic and extracurricular opportunities available in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.
  • Free Press: The Rocky Mountain Collegian published their first issue in December 1891. In its early days, the publication was a way for students to publish literary work before it evolved into a journalistic publication to report on campus news. The Collegian offers journalism students a chance to apply their skills outside of the classroom, giving them hands-on reporting experience at a daily print journalism operation.
  • Marching Band: The CSU Marching Band was formed in 1901, two years after football became a regular tradition at Colorado State. From a humble beginning of 13 members, the marching band is 240 students strong with students represented from all eight academic colleges across the University.
  • Diverse Faculty: Elizabeth G. Bell was the first female professor at Colorado State University, hired in 1885 to teach English, history, and modern languages. She fell ill shortly after her tenure began and was replaced by her sister, Maude Bell. The Bell sisters advanced the educational experience of women at CSU and paved the way for other female faculty. Now, the College of Liberal Arts continues to hire faculty and staff with diversity in mind and we are leading the campus in bringing issues of diversity into our classrooms.


Pictures and historical information courtesy of “Democracy’s College in the Centennial State – A history of Colorado State University” by James E. Hansen II.