Remarks to the 2011 Green & Gold Gala
April 2, 2011
President Anthony A. Frank
Let me add my welcome to the Green and Gold Gala — CSU’s premier alumni event — and my thanks for joining us. A special thanks also to our co-chairs and to members of the Board of Governors and our friends from elected office who work tirelessly on all of our behalf.
I was told by an experienced university president that when you speak to an alumni group, you should talk fund raising, sports, fund raising, state-of-the-university, and fund raising. You can’t go wrong with obscure classical literary references, and if sports or the university are having problems, replace those sections with fund raising.
Well, I’m lucky, I’m going to talk all three — and I’m going to start with a little sports in honor of the Final Four and Opening Day.
I was just in Greece, and one of our alumni and I were discussing the impact of the Greek language on modern day languages. He was pointing out to me that the city Thessaloniki was named in honor of Princess Thessaloniki and the Battle of Crocus, and that even the end of the name, “niki, ” means victory — from where Nike took its name. And then he started mentioning the role of the Ram in Greek mythology, a symbol not only of the Golden Fleece, but, with its additional Egyptian roots, also creativity, endurance, fertility, gentleness, knowledge, peace, and strength. Of course, I made that connection to CSU and that, in turn, got me to thinking about the buffalo, or bison, a word that takes its derivation from the Old English use of an originally Slavic word meaning “that stinking animal.”
I’m just saying.
Now, I don’t want to turn this into a night of CU-bashing. I’m happy for their NIT run. In the same way that a Chicago sports fan is happy for the Cardinals or the Packers …
Well, enough bitterness and envy. Ram athletics – headed in the right direction.
- Tim Miles had a great season, bringing the energy back to Moby, selling the place out and increasing our attendance by 33%
- Tom Hilbert — a 16th straight 20-win season. What more needs to be said?
- Steve Fairchild has a strong, young team with another year of experience, and the changes we’re making at Hughes Stadium will improve the fan experience just as we did at Moby
- Kirstin Holt had one of the best women’s basketball seasons in the last decade
- Martin Laird’s win at Bay Hill
- Breann Fuller’s 4th individual conference championship
- And so many more
- And, important to me because these are STUDENT athletes, our graduation rates continue to exceed those of the student body at large.
Good outcomes with better results ahead for Ram Athletics.
Now I’d like to turn to the state of the university.
- We’re in our 4th year of record enrollment and looking at a likely 5th given our projections.
- Last year’s class was the most diverse and among the most academically skilled in the history of CSU.
- We enrolled students from every county in Colorado, every state in the nation, and our international enrollment is steadily moving up.
- We had another year with record research awards — in areas that matter to our society like food, water, energy, the environment, and health.
- We mapped climate trends and set trends in fashion and the performing arts
- We helped respond to disasters while building a sustainable future and inventing the new technologies that will make it possible
- We grew drought resistant crops and new cartilage in the knees of horses
- We made a difference — globally and locally
- Our research and discovery ranged from Antarctica to space to county Extension offices across Colorado
- We managed forest fires close to our home and established a groundbreaking joint research center in Shanghai
- We put learning and discovery into action backed by the CSU spirit … and we changed lives
And then there is our campaign.
Two years ago, Joe Blake and I stood before you at Invesco Field at this very event and toasted the start of the public phase of The Campaign for Colorado State … just as the economy plummeted. You gave us a nice round of applause, even if it did seem a bit Tennyson-esque. (Alfred Lord Tennyson? “Charge of the Light Brigade”? “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward … “? “Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them?”) OK, let’s make a note here, less Tennyson and more buffalo jokes….
But we’re succeeding. We’ve passed the $400M mark — 80 percent of the way to our goal. We’re finishing our 2nd best fundraising year ever. We project that we’ll be in the top schools in the nation in terms of percentage increase in fundraising from the previous year. And many of us now habitually look for the seatback pocket ahead of us, even when we’re sitting in our living rooms. Of course, so many people need to be thanked and credited. Brett Anderson, our Deans, the advancement staff throughout the university, Chancellor Blake, our Board, and — of course — all of you.
But we’re also not finished. There’s a lot of work left to be done and, as my dad used to say, heavy lifting doesn’t do itself. Just as athletics is headed in the right direction but isn’t where they want to be yet, just as our research answers leave us more questions that demand even more answers, we need to keep working on this campaign. And we need your help.
And you know that when you help us, there is no limit to what we can do.
You know that we’ve put approximately $650M in capital construction into our campus — much fueled by our students giving back to their alma mater before they join the ranks of her alumni — but paired with generous donor funding to make these building truly inspirational spaces.
You know we’ve added 13 endowed chairs to assure the best faculty in the world is at Colorado State. And you know about scholarships and partnering and how even small gifts matter. You know that because of 649 gifts, many as small as a few dollars, 52 students who would have had to drop out now hold a CSU diploma — with dozens more in the pipeline to graduate. Think of the multiplier effect of those lives in our society and the return-on-investment of those small gifts.
That creation of the ability for people with talent and motivation to achieve their potential — helping all of us as a collective society in the process — is what Land Grant Universities have always been about: access to excellence that transforms the world; Lincoln’s living legacy — the triumph of human potential — merit — over status and class.
And you helped us with your expectations as well as your gifts. You have never let us “settle.” You’ve never let us take our eye off of excellence. You’ve never let us stop striving to improve. You’ve never let us stop making you proud of your alma mater. And as a result, CSU is coming through the worst fiscal crisis of our lifetime, one where we lost $36M in funding (28% of our budget) and nearly 500 jobs, around 6 percent of our workforce, in great shape — with strong roots, a strong fiscal foundation, a balanced budget.
We’re ready to help drive an economic rebound. We’re ready to respond to the next set of challenges. We’re ready to meet the next needs of the society that we exist to serve. And we’re ready to make a difference.
I don’t think many universities can make those statements.
There really is no place like CSU.
I couldn’t be prouder than to be the President of your university.
Thank you — and Go Rams!