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The 1890s: Significant growth

January 29, 2010

On Feb. 11, Colorado State will honor the creation of the institution, the values that have sustained it, and its mission of service through teaching, research, and engagement with a Founders Day celebration, with events at the State Capitol and on campus in Fort Collins.

An artist's rendering of the Colorado Agricultural College campus that appeared in the 1895 Silver Spruce year book.

A vast expansion

The third decade of Colorado Agricultural College’s operation resulted in a new president, a vast expansion in the women’s work department as well as a blossoming array of new extracurricular activities.

Beginning his presidential term in 1892, Alston Ellis saw a large enrollment increase from 179 to 335 students within four years. This created an issue on how to fund the growing institution and prompted President Ellis to acquire funds from both the Colorado General Assembly and local taxpayers to continue expanding CAC’s programs of study.

Women at the college

Female student enrollment jumped more that 50 percent between 1892 and 1896 requiring attention be paid to the selections of courses offered to women enrollees. Eliza Pickrell Routt, a notable women’s suffrage advocate, became the first female appointed to the State Board of Agriculture in 1895 and created a new prospectus for female students in domestic-economy. The curricula offered courses in the chemistry of cooking, home hygiene and household economics.

The 1891 student staff of the Rocky Mountain Collegian. Image scanned from a mounted print.

Athletics and activities sprout

Various social activities also sprouted during the 1890’s at CAC including the Columbian Literary Society, Philo-Aesthesian Society, the San Juan Boarding Club, the YMCA and YWCA, Silver Spruce, the Athletic Association and the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The college’s first football team played its first game on Jan. 7, 1893 with a 12–7 loss to Longmont Academy. President Ellis was far from a fan of the game and used the players’ rough conduct and lacking academic accolades to abolish the game from CAC for the following five academic years.

In April of 1899, President Ellis’ position was rescinded by a vote from the State Board of Agriculture after an agreement was unable to be produced regarding the priorities of funding CAC’s technical training versus academic programming.

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

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