Retiring CSU President Albert C. Yates will leave behind much more than 22,500 students and 12 years of memories.
His departure presages potential transformations at CSU, the institution at which he had already implemented a wealth of change.
“(CSU) has changed so much in 12 years. I have to step back to let it grow even more,” Yates said following his announcement Friday.
CSU’s president and chancellor had been at the helm for the controversial firing of a popular head football coach, the devastation and distress of a massive flood and the strangling effect of statewide budget cuts.
“CSU has been my life,” he said.
Now the university must begin the search for a replacement with “the integrity and stamina that Dr. Yates has demonstrated,” said Linda Kuk, vice president for student affairs.
That quest could lead to several changes for the institution, said Robert Lawrence, a professor of political science.
“Given the times in which we live, probably the search will go out for some type of a business manager,” Lawrence said. “We’re a big business now. Someone who could really get along with the state legislature and let (Provost/Academic Vice President Peter J.) Nicholls really handle the academic side of things … I think that would probably work out pretty well.”
But Tony Frank, vice president for research and information technology, said things at CSU would probably remain relatively calm.
“None of us are anticipating dramatic, sudden changes,” he said. “I think we’ve got a very solid, established board of directors. I don’t think there will be any direct impacts. In my area specifically, most of us are trying to deal with budget issues.”
Frank added that CSU’s prominence as a research institution would likely remain paramount.
“I don’t think any research university in the United States has any desire to back away from that designation. That’s a big part of Colorado State,” he said. “I don’t have any trepidation at all that a new president would not focus on that aspect.”
A laudable tenure
Yates’ successes at CSU will not soon be forgotten.
“I think his greatest legacy will be that there is not a single part of the campus that is not significantly better than it was then (in 1990),” said Frank.
Athletic Director Jeffrey Hathaway cited Yates as one of the primary reasons he wanted to be at CSU.
“He has been just instrumental in bringing CSU to the level it is right now, certainly in the athletic department,” Hathaway said. “He’ll be a Ram forever.”
A former Navy crewman on the aircraft carrier ITALICIZE Kitty Hawk, a PhD. in theoretical chemical physics and a graduate of the Harvard Business School, Yates says he looks forward to retirement for “time to smile” and the chance to spend more time with his family.
“It’s hard to have done what I have done for 12 years,” he said. “For me, (retirement) is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while.”
Only Charles A. Lory, for whom the student center is named, and William B. Morgan, whose name adorns the library, led the university longer – for 31 and 20 years, respectively.
“The average time for most presidents is three to five years, and (Yates has) been here two to three times that,” Kuk said.
Yates said “no time is a good time” to take his leave, but he has a growing desire to spend time reading, writing and raising his daughters, aged 14 and 17.
“I did many of the things I wanted to do,” Yates said. “Much of what we’ve been able to accomplish in this time has far exceeded my initial expectations.”
Asked about his personal legacy, Yates remained characteristically modest and quiet.
“It’s not for me to write my history,” he demurred.