Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership

Creating Leaders in Public Service

With a focus on providing public service opportunities for students, the Straayer Center offers access to internship and professional development opportunities. Explore how the Straayer Center can enhance your studies and help you gain experience in many areas of public service.

contact the straayer center (8.5 × 11 in)

3 Areas of Activity

The center aims to provide thought leadership on public matters through University and community partners with a focus on three main areas of activity.

Student Experience & Experiential Learning

The Straayer Center connects students to internships, fellowships, and professional development opportunities with local, state, and federal government partners, plus non-profit, international affairs, law, and more. We work closely with multiple campus partners, including ASCSU/SLICE, the Career Center, the Center for Public Deliberation, etc. We offer classroom and internship-based experiential learning opportunities with the Department of Political Science and Master of Public Policy and Administration program. Stop by the Straayer Center to learn more about the CSU in D.C. program, Colorado Legislative Internship, or Straayer Summer Fellows program. 

Community Engagement & Thought Leadership

Critical issues exist at the convergence of leadership, policy, politics, environment, and more, and the Straayer Center works closely with campus and community partners to host lectures, panels, workshops, and forums on a variety of topics that connect university teaching and research to community advocacy and leadership. We work with elected officials, CSU alumni, non-partisan administrators, civic and non-profit organizations, and more to craft discussions and support policy development and evaluation from the local to the global level.

Special Projects & Curricular Innovation

The Straayer Center supports various projects and programs at the department, college, and university level: efforts to enhance experiential learning, interdisciplinary research and scholarship teams, and civic engagement efforts on topics of critical public importance. We also understand the importance of collaborative learning networks and actively work with programs and centers at Colorado State University and other regional universities, working in the community engagement, civic leadership, and democracy space.

Public Service Leadership at Our Core

Public Service Leadership has been a core principle of the Straayer Center from the onset, derived from CSU’s role as the state's land-grant institution. In 1960, researchers at CSU developed a pilot program for global service with grassroots impact which President Kennedy later implemented as The Peace Corps.

CSU students have continued this spirit of public service each year, providing critical research and support for our statewide elected officials during legislative session. The Straayer Center carries out this public service leadership principle by offering practical and transformative educational experiences and conducting research that benefits citizens and communities across Colorado.


“One of the things I believe that has always characterized land-grant universities relatively uniquely is the responsibility to engage. And I think the Straayer Center is a great example of a connection point, another weld that connects all the capacity of this University to serve and inform the policy that will serve the citizens of the state.” 

– Tony Frank, Colorado State University, and Chancellor of the CSU System

John Straayer, Professor of Political Science, and Director of Legislative Internship Program, Colorado State University, August 9, 2016

John Straayer’s Legacy

For more than 50 years, John Straayer has been a fixture in CSU’s political science classrooms and the hallways at the Colorado State Capitol. He directed the department’s Legislative Internship Program for more than 40 years. Today, he is a professor emeritus in political science. He exemplifies the ideals of the scholar-teacher-civic servant and is deeply committed to the ideals of academic freedom and shared governance as a foundation of the University’s excellence and advancement of American civil society.

The Center honors John’s commitment to teaching, research, and outreach activities designed to prepare future leaders for public service roles that will serve the citizens of Colorado, the United States, and the world. The Center provides high-impact experiences for CSU students, increases CSU’s visibility in the state of Colorado and Washington, D.C., and strengthens CSU’s relationships with state and local government officials and private sector partners.

Video filmed and produced in 2017

Get Involved

Whether you're an alumnus looking to give back, or an individual with a student opportunity, there are many ways to get involved with the Straayer Center. Volunteer your time or expertise by contacting Program Manager Sam Houghteling.

Make a Gift

The John Straayer Citizenship and Public Service Scholarship Endowment, established by Straayer and his wife, Judy, opens doors to internship experiences, including the Legislative Internship Program, enabling more students to participate without financial burden. Make your gift today to provide access to a dynamic, experiential education for CSU students.

Contact Us

Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership
Colorado State University | Department of Political Science
Clark C338 | 1782 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523

Sam Houghteling

  • Program Manager Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership

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