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1990s: A new leader and a devastating flood

February 15, 2010

As part of the Founders Day celebration on Feb. 11, a decade-by-decade overview of the history of the university continues. The 1990s brought Colorado State University a new leader with plans to spread the institution's land-grant mission and a devastating tragedy that left the Fort Collins community in ruins.

Albert C. Yates was named the 12th president of Colorado State University in 1991.

New president

President Albert C. Yates was named the 12th leader of the university in 1991. He hoped to put a new emphasis on undergraduate teaching as well as the outreach arms of the university, balancing these elements with the highly acclaimed research already occurring at CSU.

To accomplish his goal, President Yates appointed a Commission on the Undergraduate Experience to restructure both classroom and extracurricular experiences of undergraduate students, keeping up with the changing environment and needs of the higher-education crowd.

Campus makeover

The 1990s served a makeover period for the campus with restorative work taking place on the Morgan Library, Lory Student Center, Rockwell Hall, and the Engineering Building. President Yates assisted in the purchase of the old Fort Collins High School with hopes to remodel the building and called for additional landscaping and outdoor lighting fixtures to be installed throughout the growing campus.

The Flood of ’97

Morgan Library's western exterior after the flood on July 29, 1997.

In July 1997, Fort Collins experienced heavy downpours of rain totaling 20-inches in less than 48-hours. Spring Creek’s banks swelled sending muddy, debris ridden water down College Avenue toward unsuspecting residents.

The Lory Student Center’s bottom floor completely flooded after the rising Lagoon waters burst through the basement’s glass windows. The Ramskeller, Bookstore, and Student Media offices were destroyed by 6-feet of standing water.

The library, currently undergoing major renovations, experienced severe damage. The building’s foundation exploded and walls covered in new windows caved from the force of over 8-feet of flood waters. Before the tropical force rains ended, Colorado State suffered millions of dollars in damage to campus property.

The Spring Creek Flood of ’97 united the Colorado State and Fort Collins communities together, in an effort to rebuild the university as the turn of the century approached.

Written by Sarah Gianti, CSU Department of Public Relations Intern, Journalism and Technical Communications ‘10.