Strong higher education directly impacts the economy, the community and the quality of life.
"An investment in higher education is an investment in economic prosperity," said CSU President Larry Penley in his annual Fall Address Thursday morning.
The Oval flooded with CSU patrons clad in green and gold to hear Penley speak, not only about the accomplishments CSU had made in the last year, but also about the economic challenges the university is facing in the future.
Penley emphasized that in the wake of Colorado's $400 million budget deficit, large cuts to higher education would have to be made.
He said the Board of Governors did its part in approving enterprise status; friends and alumni contributed $58.6 million, the second highest total in CSU's history; and students and parents have taken on a tuition increase.
"Now, we have to ask that the citizens of this state recognize the value of higher education and do their part," Penley said.
If Referenda C and D pass, he said, an additional $1 billion will be slated to higher education. But if C and D fail, $100 to 200 million will be cut from higher education.
Some programs would have to be eliminated, and tuition would increase 30 to 50 percent. Penley said some programs would be made self-funding, with increases of 300 to 400 percent of current resident tuition.
"Colorado is at a crossroads. We can privatize our public universities or we can begin to fund them at a level that continues their present missions," he said.
Penley did not advocate voting in favor of or against Referenda C and D, but did bring to light what effects it would have on the university if it does or does not pass.
But amidst the budget crisis, he stressed the pride he has in CSU.
"I am proud to be a part of Colorado State University – it's a great institution with a tradition of excellence worthy of affirmation," Penley said.
Courtney Healey es, president of the Associated Students of CSU, agreed but said to maintain that excellence funding is needed.
"When push come to shove, without funding (the university) can't do anything," Healey said.
She also said Colorado's schools are a reflection of the state. Students often settle where they graduate, so graduates become part of the community.
Students who attended the address said they were glad Penley discussed the financial crisis.
"I like the idea that (Penley) involved the university and the community as one," said Laura Samuelson, a Spanish education major.
Tom Baxendale es, senior political science major, said he was glad Penley placed such an emphasis on Referenda C and D.
"It's the most important issues higher education has faced in the last 10 years," Baxendale said.
The call has been made to Colorado and to the community.
"Let us work together to find ways to support and sustain the quality of our institution, in partnership with the citizens of this state and in keeping with the expectations we have of Colorado," Penley said.
For full content of Penley's speech, visit www.president.colostate.edu.