Located in the heart of Colorado State University’s campus in Fort Collins, the Lory Student Center, fondly known as the LSC, enjoys a high percentage of sunny days and a breathtaking view of the Foothills. From its inception, the LSC has been a student-centered student center. Today, this same fervor for student feedback emanates throughout plans to rejuvenate a building that is 50 years strong. Known as the “Center of Life” at CSU, the LSC has provided a centralized location for students, staff, faculty, alumni, and passersby in their united front as Ram fans.
After World War II, William Morgan set forth plans to prepare the campus for post-war enrollment. Morgan was CSU’s visionary president from 1949–1969. According to administrative predictions, it was projected that CSU would more than double in size in 1970; however, CSU met these enrollment markers much earlier, in the year 1962. According to an interview with Morgan by Mike Davis, executive director of alumni relations in 2002, the need for a new student union was a big one. The current location was based on a desire by Morgan to create a place for students to go between classes. Thus, the Lory Student was going to be placed between academic buildings and student housing.
On April 9, 1960, ground was broken to begin construction on the LSC. That same day, seven student leaders were featured in a photo posed around the “coming soon” sign for the up-and-coming student union. Since this historic day, these seven students have gained notoriety as the “LSC 7.” They demonstrate the importance of student voice at CSU and within its student center. Jim Hindman, Nancy Allen, Nancy Williams, Lory Tyler, Nancy Mitchell, Bill Neighbors, and Dennis Repp were among this original “LSC 7,” and they were valued members of the CSU community and student body, representing the student voice that supported CSU through big changes toward a better future. Most importantly, they demonstrated what it truly means to be a CSU Ram and to further CSU’s aims to maintain a heavy student-centered focus.
"We have had, and currently have, gifted leadership working with student leaders with a vision and desire to support the University’s strategic goals in all that we do,” said Karen McCormick, budget and special projects coordinator for the Lory Student Center. “This collaboration has been an outstanding success.”
Back in the 1950s, student voice was used in major development projects at CSU. To begin, CSU was moving away from its image as a technical college to an all-encompassing university image. Morgan worked closely with these seven student leaders to craft an image of CSU that brought the university 50 years into the future. Morgan’s 30-year master plan still is seen across the university and has its foundations in the ideas of the students that walked campus under his presidency.
The LSC has developed into a hub for student-life and activity at CSU through the years. Modernly, the LSC is one of the largest student employers in its hometown of Fort Collins, employing 400 CSU students during the school year. In addition to employment opportunity, the LSC houses Associated Students of Colorado State University, Student Media, CSU Bookstore, Greek Life, Student Legal Services, the Career Center, and several of the university’s diversity offices. Along with this, it has features like the Curfman Gallery, which showcases art from nationally and internationally recognized artists as well as art from locals and students. The Lory Student Center is home to almost two dozen food venues, including an ice cream, coffee, and smoothie shop, as well as several local and big-name franchises in the food market. Tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the Lory Student Center can be found students cramming for their next tests, conducting phone interviews, and taking well-deserved naps.
Director of Lory Student Center Relations, Alexis Kanda-Olmstead, has noticed the great student impact the LSC has had at CSU: “Some students are intimately connected to the building through things like student employment and others, like an international student, feel the LSC is a home away from home.”
In August 2012, the LSC will reopen its newly renovated theater, which was closed in June 2010. During its revitalization process, 4,000 students participated in the “beam signing,” an event coordinated in the LSC allowing students, faculty, staff, and others to sign the final beam to be installed into the floor of its newly updated theatre. The hope is that 50 years or more from now, future Rams will rediscover the beam.
To unite past and future, Kanda-Olmstead recently began a campaign to continue this student impact in the LSC. In the “New Faces of the LSC” campaign, applications were collected from more than 80 students who represent everything CSU has to offer. From these applicants, she will be selecting a new group of students to recreate the historic “LSC 7” photo from 1960. In addition, these two groups will be brought together and share a float in CSU’s 2012 homecoming parade.
“It’s wonderful to think that 50 years from now, these students will be contacted by future staff members as the LSC prepares for its 100th anniversary celebration,” exclaimed Kanda-Olmstead.
The Lory Student Center at Colorado State University has been, and always will be, a student-centered student center. In 2013, the LSC will begin its journey down the path of expansion and rejuvenation. It was students that voted to endorse this infusion of energy into their beloved home away from home, and after approval by CSU’s current president Tony Frank and the Board of Governors, the plan was put into action.
In a few months, CSU student, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members will send the Lory Student Center off in style with a three-week long celebration for its 50th anniversary. It has enjoyed a full and accomplished past—five decades of glorious history. And with the revitalization on its horizon, the LSC can look forward to fifty more exiting years and beyond.
This post is part of a series of campus stories about the history and role of college unions. For more stories and examples like this, check out the second edition of The College Union Idea publication, released in 2012 to chronicle the philosophy and function of the college union throughout more than 100 years.