Update from President Frank
February 15, 2013
Someone came up to me yesterday and asked, "What happened to you? We haven't gotten an email in a long time!" So for those of you who were enjoying the unusual length of time between my last opus and this one, sorry — break's over.
Marshall Scholar, Men's Basketball, 1870 Dinner, and Snuggles
I hope you enjoyed your holidays and your semester has gotten off to a great start. As a university, we've had good news on a number of fronts. Biomedical Sciences and Anthropology student Chris Counts was selected as CSU's first Marshall Scholar in 24 years, earning one of the world's most prestigious scholarships to support his graduate studies in the United Kingdom. Our men's basketball team, led by Coach Larry Eustachy, is now ranked in the top 25 nationally — for the first time since 1954. Last Saturday, I spoke to our strongest supporters and donors at the annual 1870 Dinner on campus, and their continued enthusiasm for CSU and its students and faculty was inspiring. (Of course, my speech came right after a guest appearance by Snuggles the mini therapy horse, and how can you compete with that? If you don't know the story of Snuggles, check out the video).
There's also some reasonable news on the budget front. We held our annual open campus budget hearings a couple of weeks ago and have a good skeleton outline of a budget available for general review. If we move ahead with this budget, base tuition for undergraduates will increase by $620 a year for residents and $680 a year for non-residents (see all sorts of details within the link), and we continue to worry about the impact of tuition increases. We are working to strike the right balance between affordability and quality, and the fact that our tuition sets slightly below the average of our peers and we continue to see record enrollment would argue we're probably not too far off balance. As usual, we're putting more money into financial aid, and we're looking to fund a 3% salary increase. As anticipated, with some state funds available for the first time in years, there are far more exciting ideas about how we should allocate our resources than there are funds available.
(Of course, I'd be disappointed if the opposite were true). We're now looking at the various proposals on the table and at the best ways to deploy funds in the next budget year and almost all of these are aimed at building further the academic quality of the institution. If you've got advice on the budget, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org; if you want to play around with balancing it on your own, check out our budgeting tool.
The downside to having a somewhat sunnier budget outlook this year — and there is a downside — is that it can tend to mask the very real and ongoing financial challenges we're facing as a state. Despite our recovering economy, unless something changes significantly, a series of budgetary pressures will push the discretionary budget of our state, including higher education, toward zero sometime in the next 10-12 years. If this actually happens (there are plans within state government and the business community to try and fix our budget crisis — and we'll be working closely with them on these ideas), it'll represent a big challenge for us as an institution.
CSU 2020 Plan
But as we said in the Fall Address, we've already begun planning for various contingencies, mostly centered around a plan we've been calling "CSU 2020" — a balanced approach through which we aim to continue as Colorado's school of choice for resident students; increase enrollment of non-residents; and secure a financial foundation that allows us to reach for excellence in all we do. I discussed the concept — and the comprehensive underlying financial models — with CSU's Board of Governors last week, and I know that the deans and department heads have begun to have more detailed discussions about the plan and its implications for our departments, faculty, staffing, and facilities. You can expect to hear more about this over the coming years, and there will be considerable opportunity for all of us to chip in our ideas.
Through the hard work of so many people, I believe we have a sound plan for moving forward and preserving the quality of the university, no matter what the future holds. And I have no doubt that our predecessors survived far greater challenges than this in past decades — when Charles Lory was president of this university, he had to contend with two world wars, the Great Depression, and a Spanish influenza epidemic. President Green was shot in a bar in a Denver hotel — but that's probably a story for another day...
Founders Day Medal
This week, as part of our annual Founders Day celebration, I presented the Founders Day Medal to the family of President William E. Morgan and his wife, Lilla, who together led CSU for 20 years. The challenges they faced in transitioning from a small agricultural college to a large university against the backdrop of the Vietnam era had to have felt overwhelming at times. But then as now, CSU's spirit has always been indomitable — and we're capable of working our way, as a community, through whatever the future holds. And in referencing our community, I want to share a quote from a letter (shared with me recently by Bill's daughter, Dorcas) that President Morgan wrote in 1949 to then-ASCSU President and future Colorado Governor Roy Romer: "I am young enough to take advice from college students and old enough to know that all the students and all the college presidents put together don't know all the answers." This is a sentiment I can appreciate — and I also believe that when we factor in the ideas and experience of our faculty, staff, and alumni, our odds of finding rational answers and effective solutions will go up immensely.
That's it for now — have a great weekend.
Dr. Tony Frank
P.S. Pitchers and catchers reported to camp. The year of the Cubs may be about to begin at last!