Karen J. Shirey: Why Give...


Karen Shirey

Karen Shirey can't remember a time when Colorado State University wasn't a part of her life, so it was par for the course to give back upon retiring.

Karen is a Fort Collins native who graduated from Fort Collins High in 1966. Growing up in Fort Collins holds fond memories for Karen, and a big part of those memories are those she spent at Colorado State. She remembers taking swimming lessons at Ammons Hall, dance lessons at Old Main, ice skating in the Student Center, Halloween at the Field House, and many high school banquets and dances, including prom, were held right here on the Colorado State campus.

Karen's home life was equally filled with educational nuances. Her father worked for the PR-1 School District for over 40 years. He taught, coached, was a principal, and then finished his career as district athletic director. As a tribute to his involvement in the school district, Kruse Elementary School was named for Karen's father. Karen's mother also worked the majority of her career for PR-1's Administrative Services. Between Karen, her father, her late husband, and her two brother-in-laws, they have obtained 11 higher education degrees!

Needless to say, education is as natural to Karen as butter is to bread but in her mind, much more exciting! She dual majored at CSU — an unlikely combination— pre-med and fashion design, found herself in the spotlight as a CSU Peperette, and was active on the University's track and field team. While attending CSU, Karen met her late husband Jim who was studying veterinary medicine with a keen interest in pathology.

After graduating in 1970, Karen taught biology and home economics to junior and senior high students in Windsor, while working on her doctorate in vocational education. She received her Ph.D. from CSU in vocational education in 1979. After several more years of teaching in Windsor, Karen decided to make a change and venture a little farther from her home town. She went as far as Thorton, Colo. where she resided for 22 years, once again working with junior and senior high students this time as a guidance counselor and track coach. Like father, like daughter, Karen too worked in upper level management as an assistant principal at Thorton High School.

Karen's husband passed away in 2001, prompting her to move back to Fort Collins, and all the closer to her old alma mater where she stays actively involved. Karen keeps her love for clothing design alive by volunteering for the Curator of Colorado State University's Historic Fashion Collection. She also volunteers as an evaluator for senior research design projects.

As a tribute to her love for education, her late husband and their shared passion for learning, Karen has included Colorado State University in her will in the form of two endowed scholarships- A scholarship for first year professional veterinary medical students, and a scholarship for a graduate student majoring in school guidance and counseling. Karen has also designated funding to equip and supply a small animal examination room at CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.