CSU Mountain Campus’ Harbison Building, a Story of Love

Classroom with desks and chairs
The primary classroom inside the Donald and Esther Harbison Research and Education Building

Ask anyone who has spent time at Colorado State University’s 1,600-acre Mountain Campus and there will likely be a story of a beloved memory. From the stunning mountain views, to the hands-on learning opportunities, to the friendships formed, there’s much to love about the Mountain Campus.

Now over a century after the first academic course was taught, the Mountain Campus is only months away from celebrating the grand opening of a brand-new building, a building whose story is rooted in love.

The Harbisons

Donald Harbison (B.S., Forest Management, ’26) and Esther Harbison (B.S., Home Economics, ’26) met each other less than a decade after the Mountain Campus opened its doors. Donald and Esther both loved the unique campus and the opportunities for experiential learning that were offered. Donald and Esther married and had five children together, including Dona Hildebrand, who served in the Army Air Corps and then in the United States Air Force for 24 years.

Hildebrand, who was passionate about education herself, was inspired by her parents’ love of the Mountain Campus and the impacts that it had on their careers.  In 2019, Hildebrand made a $1.2 million gift to build a state-of-the-art education and research building in their honor.

For the Love of Learning

Chairs, couches, and a fireplace by windows overlooking Mummy Range
A student gathering spot in the new building.

The Donald and Esther Harbison Research and Education Building will be the first new academic facility built at the Mountain Campus in several decades. The building features flexible classroom and lab space, offices for faculty and instructors, student gathering spaces, and a wrap-around deck with picturesque views of Mummy Range.  The new building will allow the Mountain Campus to enhance their programming, reach more students, and offer up-to-date technologies for researchers.

Although Hildebrand passed away in 2022 before she was able to see the grand opening of the building that honored her parents’ love for the Mountain Campus, the Harbison’s story will continue to be told through the research and educational experiences of future generations.