Hello, CSU Fall 2012!

I’m a little late in the timing of my first lengthy campus email of the fall, but I suspect that hasn’t caused a lot of sleepless nights among you. If you have had trouble sleeping, however, I think this email may well be just what the doctor ordered. So, you’re welcome.

The semester is off to another great start and there’s a lot to be proud of here at CSU:

Record enrollment

  • We saw another year of record enrollment increases, with a freshman class that is both the largest and among the most academically qualified and diverse in CSU history. Once again this year, more Colorado high-school students chose CSU than any other campus in the state, and true to our land-grant mission, 1 in 4 of our students are still the first in their family ever to pursue a college education.

Research record

  • Our faculty set another research record for the 9th year in a row, with research funding exceeding $340 million — a reminder, once again, that CSU has one of the most productive university faculties anywhere in the country.

Record fund-raising

  • We completed our first comprehensive, fund-raising campaign in the history of CSU — reaching our $500 million goal ahead of time and then exceeding it by almost $40 million. Thanks to our alumni, private foundations, and other generous donors, this support is allowing us to offer more competitive scholarships and invest in the academic excellence of our University, across all departments and colleges.

Beautiful renovations and inspirational spaces

  • Our campus is more beautiful than ever, and the projects we undertake today, from Library renovations to the Engineering expansion, to additional living-learning communities, to better classrooms, to the upcoming renovation of the student center as it reaches its 50th anniversary, to inspirational spaces for study and reflection — all of these leave a legacy that those who follow us will enjoy for decades to come. We owe a special thanks to our colleagues in Facilities who have toiled to make this happen for all of us — and I want to personally thank all of our students, faculty, and staff for your flexibility, good humor, and patience during the various construction and maintenance projects.

Top ranking school

  • We once again ranked in the top tier in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of America’s best colleges — and we’ve also been recognized recently for providing exceptional service to veterans and to students looking for an active and engaged educational experience.

CSU traditions

  • We’ve enjoyed a wonderfully successful Diversity Symposium this week — and with Ag Day approaching on Saturday and Homecoming just a few weeks away, we’re well into the rhythms and traditions of a great fall semester at CSU.

Optimism about FY2014 budget

Since it is fall, that also means we’re getting to work on the budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (the year that will begin July 1, 2013). For the first time since I’ve been president (and I still can’t believe I get to say this), there’s reason to think the state might actually increase higher-education funding for next year.

There are many months to go before the state’s budget is finalized, and lots of decision-making that still has to happen at the state level, but early revenue projections look stronger than expected — and so we may be able to use our fall planning period to think about where we’d like to make additional progress as a university community. Provost Rick Miranda will be discussing options and opportunities with the Council of Deans, I’ve met with the Faculty Council Committee on Strategic & Financial Planning and the Student Senate, and my Cabinet has been working through some discussions about prioritization. All of these will be helpful as we come into the January Planning & Budget Hearings, which will drive a draft budget that Rick and I will make available for campus comment typically in February. In the meantime, here’s my current, general thinking about the budget for next year.

Budget priorities

I think we all share some significant priorities that we can build on:

  • We’d like to limit tuition increases
  • We’d like to continue to make progress on faculty and staff salaries, including pay for adjunct faculty;
  • We want to continue to invest strategically in academic programs that have an opportunity to take a major step forward in reputation and excellence;
  • We want to continue to make progress in our student success initiatives — driving improved retention and graduation rates; and
  • We want to make sure we’re addressing the issues of campus safety, diversity, and a broader sense of community.

Budgeting process

As a starting point for discussion, if the state were to make no changes in funding, a 9% resident undergraduate tuition increase ($310/semester), a 3% non-resident undergraduate tuition increase ($340/semester), a 5% graduate tuition increase ($210/semester for residents and $515/semester for non-residents) would allow us to look at a 3% salary increase and modest quality enhancements without any unit budget reductions. The third and final step of our initial phase-in of differential tuition would also bring more than $4M directly to the academic units to support quality for the students paying that tuition. If the state is able to increase funding, we’ll have options of lowering tuition, increasing salaries, increasing our investments in quality, or some combination thereof. Much more to follow on all of this as the semester progresses, and we’ll post all updates related to the budget webpage.

Possibility of defunding public system of higher education

I should also throw a bit of cold water on this good news. Even with this projected short-term increase in state revenues, The Center for Colorado’s Economic Future, which is closely monitoring the status of our state budget overall, hasn’t changed its conclusions: Colorado is still on track to become the first state in the country to fully defund its public system of higher education. (If you’re interested, their reports are online at www.du.edu under economic future). Although there is still plenty of time to change this direction, our state still has some pretty heavy lifting ahead to untangle increases in state medical costs and state revenue limitations if we are to avoid this defunding. A great many people from both sides of the political aisle, the business community and universities across the state understand the importance of this issue, and we’ll be working hard with all of them over the months and years to come. The on-going privatization of American public higher education remains, in my opinion, our single greatest challenge, but we have a great case to make, and we’re developing plans that assure our ability to maintain affordable access to excellence at Colorado State regardless of what comes our way.

Our commitment to supporting programs and improving workplace climate

As we’ve worked through difficult times over the last four years at CSU, we’ve never taken our eye off of the ball of taking advantage of key opportunities regardless of the situation. I think the progress we’ve made in Commitment to Campus, our support for veterans programs, and setting an ambitious goal around graduation-rate improvement are all examples of this commitment. In that spirit, I’ve had conversations this past year with the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity about ways we can improve the overall climate for women at Colorado State, touching on issues from improved parental leave policies to salary equity issues. In light of those discussions, I am charging a small task force — led by Vice President for University Operations Amy Parsons and to include representation from faculty, staff, and students — asking them to come back to me with a plan to transform Colorado State into simply the best place to work or learn — in any capacity — if you’re a woman. Over the next decade, let’s wipe out all salary gaps based on gender, let’s have our work force reflect our society, and let’s assure that our policies are attuned fairly to the needs of all members of our community. This is an important challenge, and it’s the right thing to do.

Well, that’s probably enough for the first e-mail; I’ve cured most of your insomnia, you’re up to speed on the budget cycle, and I hope you share the tremendous pride I feel in how CSU has not only weathered the fiscal storm of the past four years but gotten stronger in so many ways. As I enter the start of my 5th year as president (November 5, 2008, 1,405 days as of today, but who’s counting…?), I can’t tell you what an honor it remains for me to serve as your president and to represent the heritage and aspirations of Colorado State. Have a great weekend — and that means stepping away from your computer now and getting out and enjoying this amazing time of year in Colorado.

Take care,


Dr. Tony Frank

P.S. – 42 days (at most) until the World Series is over and the Cubs will, once again, be tied for first as we approach the 2013 season!

All will again be right with the world. Just saying….