Alumni E-news: Leadership and Involvement in Three Simple Ways, April 27, 2011
It’s that time of year when university presidents write a lot of letters to a lot of different groups — earlier today, I finished my message to the Class of Spring 2011, the seniors who will be graduating and leaving CSU in just a couple of weeks and joining you as Ram alumni. They’re an outstanding group of students — hard-working, service-oriented, concerned about the future of our world — the type of students who have always chosen Colorado State. It’s been a privilege to watch them progress through their college years, and it will be even more exciting to see what they accomplish as they graduate and put their educations to work. I’m sure you’ll be proud to welcome them as colleagues.
None of us succeeds entirely on our own, and today’s students have been able to make the most of their educational opportunities — despite the economic storm in which they pursued their educations — because of the legions of alumni who have gone before them and who continue to maintain strong connections with our campus.
And while we’re hopeful this economic storm is nearing its end, it is still clearly having an impact. This spring, when the state budget figures were released by the Colorado Governor’s Office, I heard from many of you who are concerned about cuts to higher education funding and what those cuts mean for CSU and its future. I’m proud to say that, even while dealing with the most serious economic crisis of most of our lifetimes, we’ve kept our focus on containing costs and providing an excellent, research university education. It hasn’t been easy: We will be losing approximately $23 million in funding from the State of Colorado next year, which will bring our cumulative reduction level to more than $36 million over the past three years.
We’ve cut nearly 6 percent of our non-faculty workforce, slashed administrative budgets, and tightened our belts in ways that spared the classroom and laboratory — the reasons we exist as a University. State support for higher education in Colorado has decreased almost 70 percent since 1980 — a steeper decline than in any other state. In fact, CSU educates a student today for 4 percent less (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than it did 20 years ago. However, as tuition has increased to backfill declining state support, today’s students and their families bear two-thirds of the cost of public higher education — where a generation ago, students paid just a third of the cost. We should make no mistake here: This shift has significantly increased the need for financial assistance for students from all walks of life and threatens the foundations of American public higher education. We now need to have a very candid conversation about whether we are willing to invest in our collective future so our children and grandchildren are assured of the same opportunities we enjoyed. I urge you to play an active role in that conversation.
In the immediate future, our draft budget for the 2011-12 academic year is a balancing act that preserves quality and addresses access via financial aid, in the face of escalating tuition costs that are still well below peer averages. In short, it’s a budget that reflects the tough economic realities faced by the state, CSU, and the people who support our University. The budget is available online for review and comment. You can also check out our annual Financial Accountability Report to get a sense of how we’re working to increase transparency and accountability in our budget process.
We would have had a much tougher time navigating through this budget crisis without alumni support. Our alumni are CSU’s most passionate supporters and toughest critics. Only with their leadership and involvement is CSU able to make real progress.
So, I’m asking now for your leadership and involvement — in three simple ways.
- First, look over the draft budget and share your thoughts and comments with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Second, we need every graduate to consider a gift — of any size — to CSU. We are in the final lap of our $500 million Campaign for Colorado State University — the first campaign in CSU’s history. We inadvertently started the campaign at the worst possible time, but we’ve been pushing through and making great progress. We’re now at the $400 million mark with a little more than a year to go. Your gifts, paired with others from your alumni colleagues, keep lit the torch of opportunity for future Rams like thegraduating class of May 2011. They keep us focused on excellence. They assure the access to a world-class education that Abraham Lincoln envisioned when he signed the Land Grant Act. And they keep your University strong and healthy for those who will have the honor of following in our footsteps across the green lawns of the Oval and the halls of our academic buildings. Visit RAMp It Up to learn about how alumni can make a vital difference for students and for the University.
- Finally, I invite each of you to become Alumni Association members. This organization is devoted to providing you with a lifelong connection to CSU and to fellow alumni, and we need your participation now more than ever. Alumni of all generations are an essential part of the University community, and our newest graduates are once again looking to your example and leadership in building a vibrant, influential community of CSU alums.
Thanks for the advice and counsel you’ve provided me throughout the year. Thanks for remaining an important and active part of our campus community. I hope you have a great summer and that I’ll see you out at county fairs, or Denver alumni events, or back on campus this coming fall.
With my sincere thanks and very best wishes,
Anthony A. Frank
Colorado State University