College football is about much more than fun

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Toward the end of each summer, thousands of college football fans descend on Denver to cheer on the Colorado State University Rams and the University of Colorado Buffaloes as they battle it out during the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

This annual football game was moved to Denver in 1998 to increase the potential number of attendees as well as to grow awareness about the importance of higher education in Colorado. In 2009, both universities agreed to extend the Showdown until 2020, with all games being played at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium through 2019.

This game is a great reminder of the importance of higher education and the value it brings to our community and our economy. Some say football is one of the best marketing tools our colleges and universities have today.

Our state’s higher education institutions have done us proud.

The University of Colorado at Boulder is buzzing with developments and economic activity. In FY2011, the University of Colorado secured more than $793 million in research funding. The school conferred 5,897 degrees in May 2011.

The school is unique in its numerous partnerships with federal labs – which include collaborations with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder announced in May that the University of Colorado had an economic impact of $5.3 billion for Colorado in 2011.

Colorado State University is home to one of the top veterinary schools in the country. Last year, CSU awarded degrees to 6,173 graduates and, this year, it attracted more than $300 million in research funding.

CSU and its more than 87,000 Colorado-based alumni account for more than $4.1 billion in household income, representing 3.1 percent of Colorado’s total household income.

CSU is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to build a new football stadium right in the heart of the Fort Collins campus, as opposed to the Hughes Stadium current location four miles west of the school. The stadium is estimated to cost $246 million to build and would be funded privately, and the University is seeking feedback on this proposal. You can voice your opinion about a new CSU stadium by participating in this survey.

No matter how you look at it, these institutions are critical to our state and its future.

Finally, I must take this opportunity to thank Robert Blankenship, our Chief Operating Officer, for his 12 years of service to our organization. He leaves us this week to join the team at Mile High United Way as COO there. That organization is another one committed to education, and we look forward to working with Robert in his new role there. Congratulations, Robert! We will miss you and wish you the very best.


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