The usual silence on CSU’s historic Oval was broken by the sound
of drums, horns and brass instruments Tuesday morning as a large
crowd gathered to hear CSU President Larry Penley’s annual Fall
The sound of the CSU marching band bounced from the buildings as
a sea of green-and-gold shirts invaded the West Lawn. The visual
ensemble rhythmically twirled brightly colored flags synchronized
with the beating of the drums.
Penley was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m., and as that time
approached, hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community
members convened on the lawn, waiting for the 13th CSU president to
take the stage.
As the “Star-Spangled Banner” played in the background, the
campus Army ROTC Honor Guard marched the American and Colorado
flags to the raised stage on the lawn’s south side.
Penley began his speech by addressing the faculty, staff,
students and community members. He spoke about the highs and the
lows of the semester’s first few weeks.
“The start of this year has been an emotional one for our
community,” Penley said. “We’ve seen the highs of a successful Ram
Welcome for new freshmen with more than 1,500 volunteers from
students, faculty and staff, the introduction of our new seminars
for freshmen with 80 varied options for students who took courses.
But we’ve also seen the lows of two consecutive nights of parties
gone awry along with profound sadness this community has felt over
the loss of Samantha Spady.”
While the events of the last few weeks tarnished the semester’s
beginning, Penley remained optimistic about the year to come.
“Despite the emotion that we feel, there is strength of
character at Colorado State University to address our challenges
and take realistic action,” he said.
He announced the formation of a task force to address the issue
of alcohol and substance abuse. Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, previous
executive director of the Colorado’s Department of Public Health,
has agreed to chair the task force.
Penley continued by reflecting on his first year as CSU
president. He listed the year’s highlights, including various
research project advancements. Sixty-eight new tenured and
tenure-tracked faculty members were hired, along with two new
deans, April Mason and Joyce Berry, a new athletic director, Mark
Driscoll, and a new vice president for development, Don Fry.
After addressing the positives, Penley switched his attention to
the challenges faced at CSU, Colorado and the United States.
The first challenge he addressed comes from the economy and loss
of jobs. Penley said that since 2000, the Denver metropolitan area
has lost 60,000 jobs, many in the high technology area, to
outsourcing. In the past 12 months, Colorado was ranked 43rd in
non-agricultural job growth, with a loss of almost 10,000 jobs.
Penley continued by addressing the challenges of public research
“It is challenged by three years of budget cuts to higher
education in Colorado alone – of $162 million dollars,” he said.
“Colorado State is challenged by our inability in the past to make
up for the loss of general-fund revenue with tuition increases,
still leaving us with less revenue then we previously had, despite
the tuition increases.”
Other challenges facing CSU are losses of faculty while student
enrollment numbers grow, Penley said. He said CSU had an increase
of 1.4 percent students this fall.
“We are also challenged by a failure of the public to recognize
and value the richness of the resource that this is a great public
research university – Colorado State University,” Penley said.
“This is a public research university and we are proud of it as a
Penley said the public research university is essential to the
state’s economic development, not just for jobs and training, but
also for quality of life in the community.
Penley also said CSU will continue to increase research funding
from the federal government, without forgetting most money for
research today comes from private investors.
At the end of the speech, Penley said Colorado and the United
States are facing a changing world. He reiterated the importance of
getting students into higher education.
“Colorado and the United States stand at a higher education
crossroads,” he said. “A crossroads where a commitment to
scholarships, necessary for widespread access to undergraduate
programs, will be even more essential if we are to assure that
those without wealth, status or membership in the privileged class
have access to higher education in Colorado and at Colorado State
ASCSU Vice President Ben Goldstein said he was impressed by
“I thought President Penley did a great job not dwelling on
negatives and really showing we’re making progress,” Goldstein
Lindsay Jackson, a senior psychology major, agreed.
“I thought (Penley’s speech) was very positive,” Jackson said.
“He had a great outlook for CSU in the coming year.”
Goldstein said he enjoyed listening to the speech and thought
Penley touched on the important key points.
“We are in a dangerous place right now with state funding and we
need to really start addressing this issue before we start losing
out in the quality of education we receive here,” he said.