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1930s: The Great Depression

February 5, 2010

On Feb. 11, 1870, Colorado Territorial Gov. Edward McCook signed the Colorado Morrill Act establishing the State Agricultural College in Fort Collins. Today, the institution now know as Colorado State University, has an enrollment of over 25,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students on the Fort Collins campus. On Thursday, Feb. 11, Colorado State will honor the creation of the institution with a Founders Day celebration.

Devastating Depression, destructive Dust Bowl

The 1931 graduation procession crosses the campus historic Oval.

The 1930s brought about new demands for Colorado Agricultural College with the start of the devastating Great Depression and the agriculturally destructive Dust Bowl. In response, the school’s Extension Services provided a variety of disaster-relief to agricultural communities throughout the state.

The Extension Services organized community assistance programs in Eastern Colorado as the area’s food supply dwindled and aided farmers in fighting off grasshopper infestations in the small amount of surviving crops.

Colorado – Big Thompson project

President Lory became actively involved in the Colorado-Big Thompson water diversion project during the 1930s. The project would ultimately supply irrigation water for thousands of Eastern plains farmers and helped to extend CAC’s community-based agricultural arm.

Professional and doctoral programs launched

In 1936, student-athlete Glenn Morris (right), was the decathlon gold medalist at the Olympic Games in Berlin. Upon his return, he presented CSU President Lory (center) with an oak tree seedling.

In the mid-1930s, professional and doctoral programs emerged. As a result, new doctorate-holding faculty members were hired along with the building of new agricultural and veterinary medicine buildings.

Name change in 1935

In 1935, students initiated a petition asking the college be renamed to reflect the diverse academic programming offered. Later that year, the governing board renamed the institution Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, or Colorado A&M.

In 1936, student involvement helped establish A&M's first student union named after former dean of students S. Arthur Johnson.

Lory retired in 1939

The culmination of this depression decade ended with another administrative change to Colorado A&M when President Lory retired on Sept. 25, his 68th birthday.

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

Contact: Jennifer Dimas
Phone: (970) 491-1543