The Ethnic Studies Department at Colorado State University has a long history with its creation beginning with Dr. Jud Harper the interim President. Under his administration a President's Office initiative in 1989-90 created a task force to develop an institutional structure to "give substance to the concept and commitment at Colorado State University to ethnic diversity in American Society." The task force (Dr. Robert Hoffert was chair; members included Dana Hiatt, Rosemary Whittaker, Robert Ward, Ray Yang, and others) submitted a report in April 1990 that lead to the establishment of the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity (CASAE).
In 1994 an organizational structure was developed stating that the purpose of CASAE was to "describe and analyze the characteristics of America's multi-ethnic environment, and to offer the results of such investigation as application in the delivery of social services and in public policy changes." At that time, CASAE consisted of the Director, Dr. Carolyn Fowler, and two tenure-track faculty members, Drs. Jun Xing and Irene S. Vernon. CASAE, an academic unit under the College of Liberal Arts, offered and administered certificates in Native American, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Chicano and Ethnic Studies through the American Ethnicity Interdisciplinary Studies Program.
In the Fall of 2004, CASAE requested to drop the current options (Native American, African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Chicano) and changed the name of their program to the Ethnic Studies Interdisciplinary Studies Program offering only an Ethnic Studies certificate. Since CASAE had been in existence for a decade, in 2004, they felt that it was time to move toward a more developed Ethnic Studies program which would be analogous to a major. Given the interdisciplinary nature of Ethnic Studies making it a new concentration within the existing Liberal Art interdepartmental major seemed most appropriate since they were not a Department. The new Liberal Arts Ethnic Studies major concentration was approved effective in the Fall of 2005.
CASAE further refined the Ethnic Studies offering by dropping the Ethnic Studies Interdisciplinary Studies Program replacing it with a Minor in Ethnic Studies effective Fall 2006. After much struggle in the battle for autonomy and with the support of higher administration and the university, CASAE finally became the Ethnic Studies Department effective in the Fall of 2008! In Fall 2011, the Women's Studies Program joined the Department and is housed in the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research. As of Fall 2011 the Department of Ethnic Studies offers an Ethnic Studies Minor, Major, and Masters along with a Major concentration in Women's Studies, Minor in Women's Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies.