If there’s one thing Barry Braun cherishes, it’s people. Braun, who is the head of the Department of Health and Exercise Science, is making Colorado State University student scholarships part of his legacy with a $50,000 planned gift.
From his first day with CSU to today, Braun has made it his mission to engage with and inspire the students, faculty, campus, and community. Whether that means stopping students in the halls of Moby to ask them what they are working on or dropping in unannounced on their classes to see what they are learning, it’s clear that Braun cares about people.
Braun heads up one of the largest departments on campus in numbers of students. “My first year here, I was talking with a student when he suddenly stopped mid-sentence and said, ‘It’s good to know that you aren’t just a name on the bottom of an email.’ I never forget that encounter and I want to maintain that strong connection to everything we do in the department,” Braun said.
Positive environment at CSU
Braun came to CSU a little over three years ago and immediately recognized the positive and special environment here. From the University as a whole to the HES department, Braun cherishes each person’s commitment, passion, and engagement.
Braun wanted to support student scholarships knowing that CSU students hold dear the same fundamental integrity nourished at CSU.
“It’s as simple as this: in the three plus years I’ve been here, I’ve become completely immersed in this University for the value it places on integrity, courage, citizenship, wide-ranging entrepreneurial thinking and the bonds between people; the ‘all for one and one for all’ mentality,” Braun said.
Braun has earned several degrees from various universities and has been impressed by his experience at CSU. “The larger university is fundamentally different than any other institution I’ve been involved with. It starts with the openness and authenticity President Tony Frank encompasses and disseminates across the spectrum, from students to upper administration,” Braun said.
Braun was inspired to make CSU a part of his legacy through a named scholarship.
The Dulcinea del Toboso Scholarship is just one example of Braun’s investment in and enthusiasm for the HES department. Braun is supporting undergraduate students who have an as-yet-untapped potential to perform amazing things and who have the ingredients for greatness. He explains the meaning of his gift through the book Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes.
“Don Quixote dedicates all of his noble deeds and misadventures to the peerless ‘Lady Dulcinea del Toboso.’ The fact that she does not actually exist is part of the reason for the name and criteria of this scholarship. The goal is to invest in a student who chooses the risky path, without any guarantee of success, as a goal worthy of pursuit for its own sake and not just as a means to a safe ending,” Braun explains.
Continuing to grow
Braun is not only supporting student scholarships, but also through his leadership, he is continually striving for excellence in research, outreach, and teaching. The strong CSU community allows him to focus on continuously finding new growth opportunities within the HES department.
The Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory in the department recently unveiled a 5,800-square-foot expansion with additional space for research.
Braun is excited to fulfill the longtime aspiration of hiring a full-time physician for research and support in the department, who will also double as the medical director for the HPCRL. This will greatly expand the department’s capacity for clinical research with real-world health application.
“We have a strong research enterprise here that’s focused on healthy aging and preserving people’s function and ability to live independently, as well as their physical performance, with the goal of preventing and reversing age-related disease,” Braun said.
In addition to the research growth opportunities, Braun shared that the revamped undergraduate curriculum is now implemented, with the goal of improving critical thinking, writing skills, and speaking skills for students. Braun also launched an annual event aimed at undergraduate students and building community and relationships with faculty called the HES Extravaganza.
“One of the things I like about this department is that we do both basic science and research that is directly applicable in society,” Braun said. “My goal in coming to CSU as the department head in HES was to take on something that wasn’t only about me. I wanted to make people better, and I feel like we’re accomplishing that today.”