Foothills Campus: A New Vision, A New Destination

By V. Chandrasekar, David Paterson, and Alan Rudolph 


The Foothills Campus, located on the west side of Fort Collins, is widely known by many as a site for a Saturday afternoon Rams football game in the old Hughes Stadium. But the Foothills Campus is much more than that. It is the location of the most impactful research and innovation assets for Colorado State University in prominent and relevant areas in today’s headline news.

To the north, bordered by Laporte Avenue, the campus houses the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, a national center known for hurricane prediction. The Hydrology Engineering Labs at the Engineering Research Center study floods at scale, with access to water from Horsetooth Reservoir.

To the south, bordered by Rampart Road, is our focus on animal and human health, with the Temple Grandin Equine Center, the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, the Center for Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, and the Infectious Disease Research Center. Our facilities also house corporate partners from small and large industries who help scale our discoveries into innovations at scale. One example of this growth at the Foothills Campus is the recent presence of Zoetis, one of the largest global animal health companies. Since 2019, Zoetis has grown the Zoetis Incubator, bringing to Fort Collins 50 discovery scientists focused on livestock and companion animal health, sponsoring faculty research, and engaging graduate research associates.

Federal labs and partners are currently housed on the campus. These include the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center, which focuses on wildlife issues, and the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center – the second-largest CDC lab outside of Atlanta, which targets public health and emerging infectious diseases. This unique academia, public, and private innovation landscape was the backdrop for a task force initiated in 2020 to explore a bold new vision and destination: the Foothills Campus.

Sponsored by the offices of the Vice President for Research and the Vice President for Engagement and Extension, 49 faculty convened to discuss and distill potential new opportunities to create a new Foothills Campus.

Foothills Campus Map

Central to this task force’s mission was to envision a holistic future mission and identity for the campus that will embody new curricular engagement for undergraduate and graduate students and community-engaged research. The vision incorporates a new engagement center, with conference facilities that invite the community to engage in areas of discovery in climate, health, and natural resource-related issues; a space for museum collections; and access to the broader educational resources of the Main Campus and teaching spaces that engage lifelong students in areas related to their career development and growth. Establishing the Foothills Campus as a new destination will take some help. New federal infrastructure activities in Washington, D.C., have positioned an investment in a new transportation center located at the Foothills Campus that will begin the needed process of new roads, bike paths, and retail infrastructure for an integrated campus vision. This exciting process will now move into the strategic planning efforts across campus as we consider space for places of discovery and innovation.