John Tracy, nationally known water leader and collaborator, named next director of the Colorado Water Center

The Colorado Water Center logo is visible over an aerial shot of a river and highway snaking through a valley in Gypsum, Colorado.

John Tracy, incoming director of the Colorado Water Center. Photo credit: Leslie Lee, Communications Coordinator, Texas A&M University College of Geosciences

Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell today announced the appointment of John Tracy as the next director of the Colorado Water Center (Center). Tracy joins the Center on July 15 from Texas A&M where he serves as director of the Texas Water Resources Institute.

“With experience across the Western States, John brings a depth of expertise and an approach to stakeholder engagement developed in on the ground research that will continue our deep commitment to engagement,” said President Joyce McConnell. “We welcome John back to CSU and look forward to introducing him to our water-researchers, faculty, students, stakeholders and communities across the state.”

The Colorado Water Center is one of 54 Water Resources Research Institutes created by the Water Resources Act of 1964, which collectively form the National Institutes for Water Resources. As a division in the Office of Engagement and Extension, the Center aims to connect all water expertise in Colorado’s higher education system with research and education needs of Colorado’s water managers and users, building on the rich water history at Colorado State University. The Center director also oversees the Extension Water Outreach program.

“2022 recognizes the 100th birthday of the Colorado River Compact and is a reminder of the critical conversations on water ahead for Colorado and the west,” said Blake Naughton, Vice President of Engagement and Extension. “John’s leadership at diverse water institutes in Texas, Idaho, and Nevada, as well as on the boards of the American Water Resources Association and the National Institutes for Water Resources, brings a breadth of experience and understanding of the issues ahead and the role of the Center in these conversations.”

Since the retirement of former Center Director Reagan Waskom, Jennifer Gimbel, a senior water policy scholar has served as interim director of the Center. “Thank you to Jennifer Gimbel for her leadership over the past year and a half. Her unique skills and experience working with the water community at the state, regional and federal level, as well as a proactive and creative approach to problem-solving have continued to elevate the important work of the Center,” Naughton added.

Tracy has spent most of his career at land-grant institutions, addressing water, land and environmental resources management issues, working with a diverse range of agencies and stakeholders. His approach to engagement starts with research questions and activities co-created with communities and agencies to understand concerns and knowledge gaps. The most significant outcomes result when students are prepared to address the highest priorities that society is facing. He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and MS in Civil Engineering, both from the Univ. of California at Davis, and a BS in Civil Engineering from CSU.

About the Office of Engagement and Extension

Colorado State University’s Office of Engagement and Extension brings the university’s educational programs, services and resources across Colorado and beyond, empowering individuals and communities to thrive through learning. Learn more at

About the Colorado Water Center

The Colorado Water Center, one of 54 Water Resources Research Institutes created by the Water Resources Act of 1964, has served the greater Colorado community for nearly six decades. The Water Center leads interdisciplinary research, education and outreach to address complex and evolving water-related challenges in Colorado and beyond, fostering collaboration and inspiring the next generation of water leaders.

Office of Engagement and Extension Staff