CSU System

A legacy in education, business, and community

CSU System loses beloved leader
Man in regalia stands at a podium.

Feb. 13, 2023

HE WAS A HIGH-PROFILE SON OF DENVER, a champion of higher education, an influential business and civic leader, and a dedicated philanthropist.

Joe Blake died in February 2022 at the age of 86. He was well known and admired within the Colorado State University System and beyond. In 2006, Blake began serving on the Board of Governors of the CSU System; in 2009, he became the System’s first full-time chancellor and, until his death, was a tireless advocate for the System and its three degree-granting campuses.

Blake – who graduated from East High School in Denver, then earned degrees in English literature and law – also was familiar in Metro Denver business and civic circles. Among other roles, he helped develop Highlands Ranch and served for years as president and chief executive officer of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Known for his infectious enthusiasm, Blake also helped bring Major League Baseball to Colorado and served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations. He was honored many times for his contributions.

Blake believed in the transformative power of education and donated $5 million to Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts. He also established the Blake Leadership Scholars Program at CSU to provide leadership training and other opportunities for high-achieving students.

“Joe was a model of grace, goodwill, and good humor, whose love of language, passion for ideas, and commitment to this state and its people were unsurpassed,” said Chancellor Tony Frank, who followed Blake in the CSU System leadership role. “We are grateful to have had Joe on our team, and he remains in our hearts.”

Photo at top: John Eisele / CSU Photography.