Colorado State University has ushered in a new and historic era. Joyce McConnell is the 15th president of the CSU System's flagship institution in Fort Collins and the first woman to serve in the role. As the university heads into its 150th year, KUNC's Stephanie Daniel spoke with McConnell to learn more about her vision for the future.
What attracted you to Colorado State University?
Joyce McConnell: I am unbelievably impressed by and excited by Colorado State University and that's why I decided to come. I felt really ready in my career to move into a presidency, but I didn't want to just have any presidency. I wanted to be at one where I thought I could make a difference and where I felt grounded in what the goals of the university were.
After a decade of growth at CSU, which included higher enrollment and more federal funding for research and a new sports stadium, what's the next priority?
McConnell: I want to be able to build on what Tony (Tony Frank, current chancellor and former president of CSU) has done, which is extraordinary and I want to be able to do everything even better than we're doing it now. I want to make sure more students come to CSU, more students get an education, more students succeed. I really believe in the power of higher education to transform lives and transform families for generations. That's what I want to do here.
What do you hope will be the highlight of your first year?
McConnell: I have a couple of goals that I think are really achievable. The first one is I would really like every student in Colorado to see Colorado State University as it, their first choice of a university. And I say that because I think that the second goal connects, which is I really want Coloradans to understand better the role Colorado State University plays not just in the state but in the world, particularly in terms of the high level of education, but also the world class research that goes on here that can really transform the world.
You are CSU's first female president. What does that mean to you and what does that mean for the school?
McConnell: Well, I think it says a tremendous amount about Colorado State University's openness to diversity and inclusion. I think the board of governors was just extraordinary and the fact that they chose me to be the first female president is really significant to me in my life… Thinking about being the first female president and being a role model for so many other women, either in higher education or in other careers who look at me and say, 'she did it and I can too.' And that is very, very important to me.