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Message from CMU President Tim Foster: Passing of Tillie Bishop

Yesterday we lost a true friend. A friend of mine, a friend of the university and a friend to countless students, who Tilman “Tillie” Bishop helped along the way. 

Perhaps fittingly, this week I am with CMU students in the nation’s capital. While here among the towering monuments to public service it seems right and appropriate to reflect on Tillie’s life. After all, Tillie was himself a monument to public service. 

People often place the role of a university president among the highest jobs relative to public service. If that’s true, then what does one say about a man who was a mentor to university presidents? That’s what Tillie was to me and countless other appointed and elected officials in Colorado. 

Tillie should be remembered for many things. He served in Colorado’s House of Representatives, was elected a University of Colorado regent, was Colorado’s longest-serving state senator, served as a county commissioner and earned a nearly endless list of commendations for his volunteerism and service to the community. 

I believe what Tillie should be most remembered for has nothing to do with where he served and what titles he held. Rather, the legacy of Tillie Bishop should be predicated on how he served. Tillie was among the last of the true statesmen. Non-partisan, pragmatic and willing to compromise for the greater good of his community and state — that’s what democracy is supposed to be about. That is why I am here in Washington, D.C. this week with students learning about civics. With any luck, Tillie is looking down on our Capital Conference knowing that maybe, just maybe, one of the students with us this week will be the next person that will work to restore civility in our country. Maybe one of the students he cared for as a CMU trustee will work to advance the characteristics that he believed universities should work to promote. 

Tillie was a husband, father, friend, mentor and leader. His life is one to remember and celebrate this week and beyond. As I walk along the national monument this week in Washington, D.C., I’ll be doing just that.