Lawyer Amy Parsons Named as Sole Finalist for Presidency of Colorado State University Fort Collins
On December 2, 2022 Colorado State University announced that Amy Parsons is the sole finalist for President of CSU Fort Collins. Once the 14-day waiting period concludes, Parsons will become the 126th woman lawyer to be appointed as college or university president and the 25th woman lawyer president appointed in the 2020s. The Board of Governors is expected to formally hire Parsons on December 16, 2022.
Currently the founding CEO of a Denver-based global e-commerce company (Mozzafiato, LLC), Parsons has had a long career (16 years) in higher education at CSU. She is the former executive vice chancellor for the CSU system and previously served as the Vice President for University Operations, and as the Deputy General Counsel and Associate Legal Counsel. Upon graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law (during which time she interned in the CSU general counsel’s office), she worked in private practice as a litigation attorney.
Parsons joins a growing list of former in-house general counsel who are leading campuses. While the list of lawyer presidents seems to be more than doubling each decade in the last three, lawyer are not always accepted as academics by faculties, and the CSU faculty is no exception. While some on the faculty are questioning the lack of academic experience she brings (while noting a lot of experience in higher education it has focused on legal and administrative work, not teaching and scholarship), others point out that it is not the academic credentials that are important, but rather the support of academics that is key.
In an interview, Parsons was asked how her previous roles prepared her for this position, and she answered in part that the University will get, “A seasoned executive who understands how to efficiently and effectively operate the institution, but with an entrepreneurial spirit and perspective to challenge teams to think differently and creatively to solve problems and generate new opportunities. I also am deeply committed to taking care of people because faculty and staff are the ones who make this University what it is, and we must do right by them.” When asked about her leadership style, she used the following words – positive, energized, pays attention to morale, accessible, collaborative, candid and decisive.
Parsons follows another woman lawyer president at CSU, Joyce McConnell, the University’s first female president (whose term ended prior to her five-year agreement), and she joins another current Colorado woman lawyer president, L. Song Richardson at Colorado College who was appointed in 2021.