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1980s: The 'Era of Firsts'

February 12, 2010

As part of the Founders Day celebration on Feb. 11, a decade-by-decade overview of the history of the university continues. The 1980s became known as the "Era of Firsts" at Colorado State University as the institution strengthened its research and expanded its teaching roots in a variety of fields.

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital in April of 1985.

Veterinary Teaching Hospital

The newly built Veterinary Teaching Hospital became the first to adapt arthroscopic surgery in horses, helping race horse Spend A Buck win the 1985 Kentucky Derby.

Researchers at the hospital performed the first bone-marrow transplant in a lilac-pint Siamese cat, Miki, correcting a rare disease and ultimately pioneering the field of bone-marrow research.

Tropical Meteorology Project

In 1983, William Gray began his work on the Tropical Meteorology Project, forecasting the annual number of hurricanes throughout the Atlantic Ocean. His work continues to serve weather forecasters and residences of hurricane-prone areas today.

First to offer degree in Equine Science

Colorado State was the first U.S. university to offer a degree in Equine Science and built an Equine Teaching and Research Center from privately donated funds in 1985.

Global research

Civil Engineering students work on a water project in June of 1986.

That same year, Physiology Professor Robert Phillips was chosen by NASA to fly as payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle. The Center for Optoelectronic Computing Systems was selected by the National Science Foundation as a national engineering center in 1987, receiving a five-year grand of $14.5 million to further the study of optoelectronic systems.

In the late eighties, Colorado State received a three-year $25 million grant to conduct research and provide education and technical assistance for the ongoing water troubles of Egypt.

Expanding campus

The end of the decade resulted in the campus’ first student recreation center and a new Molecular and Radiological Biosciences Building helping to expand the scientific studies of the university.

Carnegie Foundation Class I rating

During the 1980s the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education rated CSU as a Class I research institution for its outstanding dedication to research in a variety of fields, a cornerstone of the university’s mission that would continue on for decades to come.

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