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Working at CSU

Colo. Water Center a focus for resources, expertise

October 3, 2013
by Jim Beers

CSU is investing in resources and expertise as it prioritizes the Colorado Water Center as a hub for faculty research and stakeholder engagement.

Currently, there are 22 departments at CSU that house more than 100 faculty members who apply their disciplines to water issues and problems. These faculty teach more than 150 water-related courses at the senior and graduate levels. In addition, CSU faculty and staff are engaged in solving water resources problems across the globe.

 Faculty led

The Colorado Water Center will be faculty-led, and all water faculty who want to affiliate with the Center will have that option in one form or another. The Water Center will be led by an 11-member Executive Committee. Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute, will serve as the Chair of the Executive Committee. Waskom said the focus of the Water Center will likely changeas it expands its scope.

“We will be looking at how to take our current areas that are strong or potentially strong, and drive them to the next level,” said Waskom. “This will evolve, but one thing we hope to accomplish at CSU is some strategic cluster hires to take us to national prominence in a few areas such as ecohydrology, or irrigation efficiency, or water for energy, to name just a couple of possibilities.”

Provost Rick Miranda said that this year the University has taken the opportunity to add some significant resources to support faculty efforts in water research, education, and outreach.

“I am delighted that Reagan Waskom will be directing our rejuvenated Water Center to deploy these resources to greatest effect,” he said. “I am grateful to the faculty committee, chaired last year by Gene Kelly, that drafted a useful roadmap to guide our efforts in the next years, and we are committed to making further investments in this direction in years to come. I expect that the Colleges will contribute with cluster hiring of faculty and I trust that they will coordinate these efforts to maximum effect as well.  We’re excited!”

New projects from within

A revitalized Colorado Water Center will begin by looking within CSU for new projects, according to Waskom. The Center has just released its request for faculty proposals that include three types of grants: multi-disciplinary teams, multi-investigative teams and faculty fellows. Grants will range from $7,500 to $25,000. The deadline for applications is Oct. 21.

“We want to foster small grants that lead to big projects,” Waskom said. “We want to build teams and capacity where we have critical mass to do something big working together. We also want to help junior faculty by fostering their ideas and key projects.”  

SoGES and Water Center

One of the first efforts will be immediate work on the undergraduate Water Minor, which will be housed in the School of Global Environmental Sustainability. Students from diverse disciplines with an interest in water issues will be able to obtain a minor in water studies by the 2014 spring semester.

The ties to SoGES are especially important to Diana Wall, director of SoGES, University Distinguished Professor, and Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory.

“Our Global Environmental Sustainability Minor is highly successful because students from all colleges want to make the future better,” said Wall. “The comprehensive knowledge they gain from the Water Minor will help them respond effectively to the risks and opportunities of other global environmental challenges. CSU students challenge CSU researchers to develop an integrated understanding of the complexity of environmental, societal, and economic issues. We are thrilled to house an undergraduate Water Minor which will enrich our offerings even more.”

Open house next week

The Water Center will host an open house 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, to answer questions and discuss potential projects. The open house will be held in the Montreal Conference Room in SoGES’ offices at 108 Johnson Hall. Refreshments will be served.

Waskom, current president of the Colorado Water Congress, the state's leading water organization established to provide leadership on key water resource issues, says the sky’s the limit for conceptualizing new, innovative water-related projects. “Anything from research teams to seeking grants or initiating seed projects; art and humanities scholarships related to water; new curriculum being developed and implemented; national conferences held at CSU; book projects; visiting distinguished scientists; or invited speakers. The only limit is our imagination.”