CSU’s Pueblo campus coming into its own
PUEBLO, Colorado – There’s a new dorm and a new football team at CSU-Pueblo – but the changes go much deeper than that.
School officials say the Colorado State University branch that once catered only to local students is now looking far beyond southern Colorado.
Between the fall semesters of 2007 and 2009, the number of entering freshmen rose to 1,068 from 626, and the total head count reached 5,094, up from 4,142. Dorms were so crowded last year that even after doubling occupancy in some rooms, the school had to rent two nearby hotels to handle the overflow.
The university also saw a remarkable jump – 63 percent – in the number of students coming from outside Colorado.
School president Joe Garcia says the campus is coming into its own.
“In the past, we didn’t look beyond Pueblo County, but there are a lot of people looking for a small university where they can get a good education,” Garcia told The Denver Post.
The $100,000 marketing budget is 70 percent higher than it was prior to the growth spurt, said university spokeswoman Cora Zaletel. Pueblo still accounts for the major portion of the student body, with 2,158 students in the fall of 2007, compared with 2,358 this year.
But that 9 percent increase is small compared to the 63 percent bump of students from outside Colorado – from 248 to 404.
This year, students arrived on campus to find the new Crestone Hall, a $15 million, 253-bed residence hall. And construction is under way on two dorms that will open next fall with another 500 beds.
Garcia says expansion of the campus’ sports teams is the biggest change. The Thunderwolves fielded a football team last year for the first time since 1984. The school has also resurrected wrestling and women’s track and field. The Thunderwolves’ basketball and volleyball arena is being renovated.
“Folks in the community said they wanted sports, and we said: ‘We can’t do it. We don’t have the money.’ They gave us the money, and in eight or nine months time, we built a football stadium from bare prairie ground into a top-quality facility,” Garcia said.
The changing atmosphere has students excited.
Sarah Bennett, 21, a senior studying business management, at first found the campus too quiet.
“But the atmosphere has changed here,” she said. “Football has increased school spirit. Now every sport is a big deal.”
Kenneth Moses, 20, traveled from Honolulu to study exercise science and play basketball for CSU-Pueblo.
“It was a great decision. This is a laid-back school, the teachers are really hands on, so that made it more comfortable. The professors know you by your name,” Moses said.
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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com