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Papers of Ralph E. Christoffersen

Identifier: UREC

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Ralph E. Christoffersen consists of documents dated 1980 to 1982. The collection contains planning documents concerning Ralph Christoffersen's public presidential investiture ceremony, held October 1-3, 1981. The investiture included symposiums, concerts, art exhibits, and speeches. Christoffersen prepared four separate addresses - one for a general audience, one to the faculty, another to the students, and one for service clubs in Fort Collins. Other academic leaders, local leaders, and CSU faculty were among the participants. Materials include seating charts, invitation lists, correspondence with participants, committee meeting minutes and memos, and a file of materials from the University of Colorado on the planning of a recent presidential inauguration. Also included in the collection are two folders of Christoffersen's speech transcripts and five gifts given to him during a visit to King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, circa 1982.


  • Creation: 1980-1982


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, it is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Ralph E. Christoffersen was born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1937. He earned a B.S. in mathematics from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, in 1959, and his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Indiana in 1963. He married Barbara Hibbard while at Indiana and had two children, Kirk Allen and Rachel Anne.

Christoffersen spent two years as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow, first in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Nottingham, England, followed by a position in the Department of Chemistry at Iowa State University. He joined the chemistry department at the University of Kansas in 1966 as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in 1969, and full professor in 1972. He was appointed as assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Kansas in 1974, Associate Vice Chancellor in 1976, and then Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in 1979. Christoffersen became the tenth president at Colorado State University on March 17, 1981.

Unlike most previous presidents at Colorado State, Christoffersen's background emphasized the liberal arts rather than agriculture or land-grant higher education. He advocated for the humanities in a well-rounded education. In addition, as a scientist with more than eighty publications to his credit, Christoffersen felt that research should complement teaching at the university, since students would benefit significantly from the current research experience of their professors.

The onset of serious economic problems in Colorado during the early 1980s led to tighter education budgets and demands from state legislators for strict accountability. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education mandated a comprehensive accountability exercise for the state's colleges and universities, and retrenchment policies proposed by Christoffersen were highly unpopular with the CSU community. Lack of faculty support, divisiveness among members of the governing board, and discontent with Christoffersen's budgetary decisions led to his resignation in January 1983.

Historical information taken from the collection and Democracy's University: A History of Colorado State University, 1970-2003, by James E. Hansen II, pp. 112-118, 125-129.


3.5 linear feet (1 record carton, 1 document case, 1 flat box, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Ralph E. Christoffersen was the tenth president of Colorado State University. The collection includes planning documents for his investiture ceremony, gifts from King Saud University, and copies of speeches.


Materials are in alphabetical order by series.

The collection consists of 2 series in 1 record carton, 1 document case, 1 flat box, and 1 oversize folder:

Series 1: Investiture, 1980-1981

Series 2: Miscellany, 1981-1982


The Papers of Ralph E. Christoffersen was transferred to the University Archives on January 28, 1982, July 7, 1983, and March 16, 1984.

Related Collections

The Records of the Office of the President and the papers of individual presidents are also held by the University Archive.


Processing was completed in November 2014. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes.

Guide to the Papers of Ralph E. Christoffersen
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman
Copyright 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA