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March2011 Volume 5 | Issue 8

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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Around this time of year we know students and their families are thinking about safe and fun spring breaks, please check out the archived February RAMFAM meeting to listen to the wisdom shared by the student panel about how they have productive, safe spring breaks.  We'd also like to highlight a Centers for Disease Control website on spring break tips for your information and convenience. 

Beyond spring break, we also know focusing on academics and changing majors can preoccupy students and families’ spring break discussions.  Please refer back to a handout given at the September RAMFAM meeting as well as the archived November newsletter article Breaking through the Wall by Cecilio Alvarez, academic advisor in the Center for Advising and Student Achievement for information about how to partner with us to support your student’s academic struggles and questions. In this month’s e-newsletter, we’re excited to highlight Dr. Lisa Dysleski, Assistant Professor and Head Academic Advisor in Chemistry.  Lisa has been a tremendous help to numerous students challenged by the academic rigor of Chemistry.

Other terrific articles in this e-newsletter include an article from a health professional within the CSU Health Network outlining signs and symptoms of “typical blues” versus depression and how to refer your student to campus and community resources. When students return to campus, they’ll experience a major alcohol prevention and education campaign to help students make good choices and stay safe when the weather gets nice and we all get spring fever.  We are sharing information about the messaging to you for your partnership in talking with your students about good decision making regarding alcohol and drugs.

Lastly, budgets are on everyone’s mind, including the leadership of Colorado State University.  There are a number of ways for you to get involved in these discussions, including joining the CSU Advocates program (article below) to share your voice with elected officials about the importance of higher education in Colorado as well as learning about the CSU budget through reviewing the materials on the President’s website, including a videotaped “Budget 101” overview and all of Dr. Frank’s campus communications regarding the budget process.

As an aside, I’m beginning a series of articles about my family’s journey supporting our high school senior through the college search, decision making, and first year of college.  I’m pleased to report Matthew made the great decision to become a CSU Ram next fall! He filled out his Housing materials, submitted his scholarship applications, confirmed with Admissions, paid the Enrollment Deposit and Registered for Preview Orientation! We’re on our way!  On a number of occasions I’ve had to remind myself to listen to my good advice to all parents and families of college students…I’m gaining new-found empathy for all of you!

Rather than highlight any other articles included in this e-newsletter, I’ll trust you’ll read through the entire edition to experience the wisdom and information for yourselves. Thank you for sharing your student with us.  We take our responsibility very seriously and appreciate your partnership toward helping them become educated, responsible, mature, productive citizens of the world.

take care,


Big News:  Homecoming & Family Weekend 2011 has been set!  Mark your calendars for Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2011 for a wonderful weekend of Colorado State University Ram Pride and Tradition!

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Interim Dean of Students
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

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College of Natural Sciences Faculty Highlight

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Picture of faculty member

Name: Lisa Dysleski

Title: Special Assistant Professor and Key Academic Advisor, Department of Chemistry

College: College of Natural Sciences

Department: Chemistry

Years teaching:7

Degrees: Ph.D. (Chemistry), B.S. (Chemistry/Performing Arts)

Areas of research:  Chemistry Education

Classes:  CHEM 111 and CHEM 113

1. What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that ALL of us should strive to be life-long learners. Learning is something that is personal and individual, something that comes from within, not from without. A teacher can provide a student with the tools to ask questions, discover new ideas and critically analyze information, but a teacher can’t make a student learn. Our only chance at a better future will come with an informed citizenry that is curious about the world that we live in, one that wants to explore new ideas and challenge old ways of thinking. Science is not just a body of facts to be memorized and regurgitated, proven or disproved – it is a way of thinking, a method of looking at the world around us. It is important that we challenge students (and each other) to see the world in new ways. Unfortunately, sometimes we lose sight of the learning when we’re wrapped up in the tests, homework assignments and the day-to-day tasks associated with school.

Most of my students will not graduate from CSU to become career chemists. However, many of them will become engineers, doctors and veterinarians. I hope that by providing them with challenging opportunities now, I am inspiring a group of students that will continue to challenge themselves, and all of us, in the future.

2. What is your favorite college memory?

As I have often heard Jim Zakely (from CSU’s Center for Advising and Student Achievement) say, “It’s not of me curled up with my calculus book”! I can’t say that I have a specific college memory that is my favorite (at least none that I can relay here) but when I think of college, the first thing that I think about is the people that I got to know and how my interactions with them are what really helped lay the foundation for me to become the person that I am today. Now that I am on the “other side of the aisle”, I notice that some students have a very difficult time balancing time between social, academic and work commitments. I often talk with them about finding balance: a straight-A student with no interests outside of school will probably be miserable, however, dropping out of school because of poor grades is no fun either. I believe that both parts of a student’s life are important and that true success is achieved when both the social side and the academic side are fulfilled.

3. What advice would you give students who want to be successful at Colorado State University?

Do what you enjoy. So many students tell me that they are trying to get into Vet school (or medical school, or the College of Engineering) because family members have told them that they should become a vet.. (or a doctor… or an engineer). And yet as I watch the student talk, I can see that he or she isn’t inspired by it. If a person does what he or she enjoys, the experience is richer and so much more fulfilling. For many students, college is your first opportunity to really think about who you are as a person and where you want your life to go. Although this can be a scary and difficult time, it is also a great chance to explore new things (which so many people stop doing!). CSU is a rich place; it can offer you almost any experience that you can dream up. Take advantage of the opportunities that you truly enjoy and you will be happily surprised where you end up.

4. What advice would you give parents and families of college students?

Sometimes, a person learns the most when he or she experiences failure. It can be painful to watch someone that we love fail at something, but part of maturing and becoming an adult involves learning how to deal with failure. My class is difficult and not all of the students in my class will earn an A. I often try to relay my personal experiences with failure so that students understand that the important part of the process is not the failure, it’s the response. Every year, I see students that struggle in the beginning of the semester, decide to face the challenge and turn the experience around. I also see students that become paralyzed by these experiences.

At CSU, there are so many people that want to help your student succeed – all he or she has to do is ask for help and then follow through. Ultimately though, the onus to get and to use the help that we offer rests on the student. As a parent or a family member, I think that the best thing that you can do for your student is to provide support as he or she navigates through the challenges and successes that he or she will experience at CSU. Keep the lines of communication open so that you know what’s going on in your student’s life and trust that he or she will be able to deal with anything that comes his or her way.

5. What else would you like people to know about you?

Although I don’t consider myself “a runner”, over the past couple of years, I have been challenging myself by entering running races. It all started about 8 years ago when I entered a local 5K run (I had never run before and nearly passed out from what felt like exhaustion while running my first mile). After that, I was curious to know if I could complete a 10K, then a half-marathon, then a marathon. After the mental challenge of the marathon subsided, I entered two Ironman triathlons. I’m now trying ultra-running (basically, anything longer than a marathon) and I’ve entered into my first 100-mile race, which I’ll attempt this coming June. I can’t believe how similar my training and preparation for this upcoming race is to how I expect my students to approach studying for General Chemistry – it takes a lot of preparation. On race day, I’ll never be able to anticipate how I’m going to be challenged and in the end, I might not make it. Regardless, I’m in it for the journey – that’s what’s important to me. I’m also a beekeeper, which is a topic that I love talking about more than anything else – even Chemistry! Honeybees are amazing creatures – they teach me something about myself every time I work with them.

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Show Them the Love!

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Care packagesBy Tanida Ruampant, CSU Alumni Association

It’s the final stretch of the year and students will soon be prepping for Finals Week. With the allure of Spring and Summer waiting around the corner, comes the anticipation and anxiety of giving one final push to make it through the semester.

Show your student support by sending them a care package filled with sustenance to help them get through studying and taking tests. Two options are available:

  1. For students living on-campus in a residence hall or Greek house, order a SAC Pack (finals week care package) from the Student Alumni Connection and Alumni Association. SAC Packs are made by students, for students, so you know they’re filled with popular treats! Spring SAC Packs are delivered in a CSU drawstring backpack!
  2. For students living off-campus, order a care package from Off-Campus Marketing. Several options and sizes are available.

Look for care package mailings in your mailbox in the next few weeks or stay tuned on the Alumni Association website for more information.

Care packages are a great way to show your student support and to be present in the life of your student while they are away from home.

If you have questions or would like more details, please contact the Alumni Association at (800) 286-2586 or email us.

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Health & Safety Around Alcohol Use

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CSU Health Network graphic





By Stefanie Lucas, Graduate Assistant, Health Education and Prevention

Efforts are being made at Colorado State University to reduce negative health and safety issues related to college alcohol and other drug use. Parents and family members are part of the solution.  Those who actively engage in conversations with their students about good decision making can make a difference.   

Here are a few ideas of how to get the conversation started:

  • How are your classes going?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • How are you dealing with stress?
  • What is the party scene like?
  • How do you deal with peer pressure from friends?
  • What will you do if a friend has too much to drink?

If you get a sense your student might be drinking or is feeling pressured to drink or do drugs consider highlighting the following:

  • Be 21 or older.
  • Drink only if you want to, do not let others dictate your choices.
  • Drink no more than one drink per hour; maximum 1 for women, two for men. Important: A drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer, 1.5 ounce of 80 proof spirits and 1 ounce of 100 proof. Know how much alcohol is in your drink.
  • Set a limit on how many drinks you are going to consume and stick with it.
  • Eat a meal before, during, and after drinking.
  • Avoid drinking games.
  • Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Always know what you are drinking; never leaving a drink unattended or accepting a drink from someone you don’t know.
  • Stay and leave with the same group of friends.
  • Know how you will get home safely before you go out. Having a designated driver.
  • Make sure drinking is not the primary focus of your activities
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with medications, illegal drugs, or energy drinks.

Please let your student know about Ram Ride.  This service provides safe, free, nonjudgmental rides to CSU students within a certain radius of campus.  It runs Thursday from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am and Friday and Saturday nights from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am, but does not operate during school holidays or during the summer. Ram Ride’s number is 970-491-3333.  You and your student can visit the Ram Ride Website for more information.


If your student is looking for something to do that doesn’t involve alcohol and other drug use, encourage them to explore the following:

On Campus Options

Click here for off campus options.

Student Assistance

Are you concerned about your student’s alcohol and other drug use?  Talk to them about connecting with a caring professional:

  • Visiting CSU Counseling Services: 123 NW Alyesworth Hall
  • Calling CSU Counseling Services: 970-491-6053

Know as a parent or family member, you can call Student Case Management at 970-491-8051 for help with locating resources and referrals for your student.

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Assessment Results: Make your Voice Heard

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CSU AdvocatesIn our bi-annual survey last summer, many of you shared feedback about increased tuition.  President Frank has been great about keeping folks updated via his website, but we want families to have the opportunity to have your voice heard.  As a result of your interest in that survey and in individual emails, we want to be sure you know about CSU Advocates, a place to have a voice in the legislative process here at CSU. 

By Michele McKinney, Director of Public Relations and Business and Community Development

Last year, the Colorado State University System launched an advocacy program called CSU Advocates to build an educated, engaged and empowered support network for Colorado’s public higher education system and CSU, in particular.

With very tough decisions on the desks and in the minds of our legislators this year, CSU System Chancellor Joe Blake is encouraging every CSU alum, donor, parent and friend to become a reinforcing voice of support for the value of higher education in Colorado.  Nearly 900 individuals already have signed on as a CSU Advocate, but more voices are needed.

Tough choices are ahead.

Governor Hickenlooper presented his 2012 budget recommendations to the Joint Budget Committee on February 15. The challenge to the governor, the Joint Budget Committee and, ultimately, the General Assembly is how to cut $1 billion in expenses, retain essential state functions and yet provide a balanced budget.

Tough choices, indeed.

As CSU enters into this debate on the funding levels for next year, it is important to remember that in the last two years, state support for higher education will have been reduced 27 percent. That includes the governor’s proposed $36 million cut to higher education.

With this scenario, many higher education governing boards may be faced with increasing tuition in the years ahead.

We know the value of public higher education is very important to you, to your family and indeed to Colorado’s future. Become a CSU Advocate to be kept informed on the budget as it moves through the legislative process, and continue to speak out about the value of higher education and how it is a key ingredient to accelerating Colorado’s economic recovery.

The value of public higher education must be clear and personal to Coloradans. We must continue to convey evidence that higher education is bringing added value to the economy and to the future of this state.  Some highlights of the need for higher education in Colorado: 

  • Public higher education provides the majority of our workforce.
  • By 2018, nearly 70 percent of jobs in Colorado will require higher education and training, ranking Colorado fifth in the nation in higher education needs.
  • Higher education is a solution to accelerating Colorado’s economy.
  • Higher education provides the education, innovation, and job creation that are essential for Colorado’s economic recovery.
  • Colorado is one of the most efficient states in the cost of educating and graduating college students.
  • CSU is doing its part. Through efficiencies, cost savings, budget cuts and prudent resource management, CSU has been able to balance its budget for this year.

Your involvement in CSU Advocates is voluntary and is appreciated. Your contact information is protected and is not sold or shared. Join the CSU Advocates Network Today!

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Walking in Your Shoes 

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Lime Green shoes Credit to nuttakitBy Jody Donovan, Interim Dean of Students and Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

Our oldest son, Matthew, just shared he will attend Colorado State University next year.  Yes, it’s true.  Next year, I will be a parent of a CSU student!  While I am thrilled he has chosen the best university in Colorado and know he’ll have a great in- and out-of-class education at Colorado State, I also want to share that I worked hard to remain open and supportive if he chose to attend “that other school down the road.”

Kacee asked me to share my journey supporting our high school senior through the college search process, touring campuses, completing the FAFSA, and registering for orientation. On more than one occasion, Kacee and I have shared a chuckle as I’ve struggled to follow the advice I’ve been sharing with prospective and current CSU parents and families all these years!

Working on a college campus for over 20 years brings a great deal of knowledge and experience navigating the higher education scene.  So, we began talking about and exploring colleges and universities when our sons entered elementary school. Once Matthew decided he wanted to stay in Colorado, we began visiting every post-secondary institution in the state.  His younger brother Patrick was dragged along to expose him to higher education as well. Based on Matthew’s interest in double –majoring in Science as well as Spanish, he narrowed his decision to CSU and CU due to the extensive research opportunities and larger foreign language departments at these Research I Institutions (he also liked both Boulder and Fort Collins as “cool college towns”).

We’ve been fortunate that Matthew is a fairly self-motivated kid, meeting the early application deadlines at both schools. We celebrated his admission to both schools by going out to dinner at his favorite restaurants. He is now focused on filling out institutional and local scholarship applications, getting recommendation letters, and high school transcripts for the various scholarships.  Matthew completed his section of the FAFSA, now it’s our turn. I listened to Connie Jaime-Lujan’s outstanding Scholarship and Financial Aid presentations during Admissions Visit days as well as the December and January RAMFAM meetings. I gathered the information, but actually sat down together with my husband to complete the FAFSA on March 1!  Finding time to complete all the documents has been a challenge.

Like all of you, I have high hopes that our son will finish his high school career strong, will work hard to earn (and save!) a lot of money for college, and approach his college education like a job, with a solid work ethic and dedication to learning and maximizing his opportunities for growth.  Am I idealistic?  You bet I am!  Am I also realistic? Yes, after working with college students and their families for over 20 years, I have to be. 

Stayed tuned as Matthew makes next decisions and we all participate in orientation, going through this major life transition together!

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CSU Summer Session

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By Barbara Gotshall, Summer Session Director

Learn, Work, and Play!  Students can do all three during Summer Session.

It is a great time to be at CSU: campus is relaxed and friendly and courses are flexible and focused.  There are over 500 courses offered in the 4- and 8- week terms, giving students the flexibility to work and make other summer plans.

Summer Session provides students the opportunity to complete a prerequisite, knock off a required course, and improve their GPA. CSU offers the Summer Language Immersion Courses, Beginning I & II in Spanish and Arabic.  Students can learn a semester’s worth in 4-weeks or a whole year of language in 8-weeks. There are impressive course offerings in Business, Biology, Math, Chemistry, History, Human Development, English, and Psychology.

The weekend Psychology courses are back and this year’s selection includes Conflict Resolution, The Psychology of Happiness, Mental Illness & Media, Forensic Psychology, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Psychology of Women, and Psychology of Religion.

Students who are not yet CSU admitted students can enroll in Summer Session: there are no formal admission requirements. “Summer-Only” students need to complete the simple online summer application. Visit our website or call the Summer Session Office at (970) 491-1590 if you would like a printed copy of the Summer Class Schedule mailed to you. Check out the summer video on the web – see what students and faculty have to say about summer session.

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Case of the Blues versus Depression

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Upset Man.  Credit to Salvatore VuonoHelen F. Bowden, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist (CO, FL)
Assessment Specialist for CSU Health Network

The long anticipated day finally came when, hearts filled with a mixture of pride and anxiety, you watched your students begin their journey at CSU. You resolved with resigned determination that you would stay in the background, allowing your students to make decisions for themselves as they grappled with the trials and tribulations of becoming independent adults. As a parent or family member, you knew that in order for them to truly learn how to ride the bike of life, the training wheels had to come off- even if it meant a few scrapes and bruises.

The process of individuation is a natural and necessary part of human development, but natural doesn’t mean it’s easy for either the individual or their families! A certain amount of discomfort and adjustment difficulty is to be expected when suddenly thrust into a huge new environment in which one is responsible for their own welfare, decisions, and future life direction for the first time, as well as the consequences. So when, you might wonder, do parents and families emerge from the background, and when does a temporary case of the blues cross the line into more serious symptoms such as clinical depression?

The keys to sorting out natural lows from depression are severity, degree of impact on daily life, and how long it lasts. Serious depression involves multiple symptoms that occur nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. These might include: feelings of sadness, irritability, sleep and appetite disturbance (too much or too little), feelings of hopelessness, poor self-esteem, diminished motivation and interest in previously pleasurable activities, moving slower than usual or showing signs of restlessness, loss of energy, reduced ability to concentrate, indecisiveness, and thoughts of harming oneself. The symptoms generally need to either be significantly distressing to your student or cause significant impairment in important areas of functioning (i.e., grades dropping, social withdrawal, neglecting hygiene).

As a parent or family member, the best thing that you can do is to regularly express continued love and support, invite (rather than demand) your student to talk to you about it, and encourage seeking outside help. You may have to repeat these many times before your student is willing to get help, so don’t give up or be put off by a negative response! Fortunately, there are many wonderful campus resources that your student can utilize, hopefully before reaching crisis mode. Fee-paying students are eligible for drop-in services at the CSU Health Network Counseling Services (123 Aylesworth Hall; 970-491-6053). We also offer individual and group counseling sessions for a wide range of concerns. Another great resource is the University Case Managers (970-491-8051 or 4043); they can help your student get connected with the right campus resources. For after-hours emergencies, our on-call counselor and campus police can be reached by calling 970-491-7111.

It can be hard to balance fostering individuation and providing loving guidance and support. Though most students are able to traverse the ebbs and flows of college life, there are a few who get caught in a powerful undertow. Just remember, there is a life preserver – your love, support, and encouragement and seeking help when the currents feel too overwhelming. We’re always here if you need us!

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RAMFAM Association Meeting

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RAMFAM graphicJust a reminder that we will not be hosting a RAMFAM Association meeting this month.  We hope you and your students get a chance to relax over spring break!  Next month, we'll cover safety and conduct on campus.  Stay tuned for more information! 

Missed last month's meeting?  View it online on our archived video page.

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