CSU President Larry Penley was still revising his speech on Tuesday for his annual Fall Address set for late this morning.
“I always get nervous when I give a major speech, but I’ve done it a few times and it’s not so strange,” Penley said in an interview with the Collegian.
As the 13th president of CSU and third chancellor of the CSU Board of Governors, Penley has delivered this speech each year since his inauguration in 2003.
“I have a long-link process that I go through with speeches. I have 48 hours to go and the speech is not ready,” Penley said Tuesday, revealing a distinct rapid chuckle.
In last year’s address, Penley tried to rally students behind Referendum C and D so the university could tap into additional funds. It was the sticking point of his speech, and in November Colorado passed Ref C, allowing the state to spend an extra $3.7 billion on roads, healthcare and education.
Today, Penley will focus on the recent accomplishments of CSU’s faculty, staff and students, and highlight what CSU needs to do to get ahead as a premier higher education institution in Colorado.
Although Ref C funneled millions of dollars into the university, Penley says there is still a shortfall in providing the highest quality education at CSU.
“Referendum C will be inadequate and it already has been inadequate in meeting the needs of higher education,” Penley said. “We are 48th in the United States of funding in education from the state of Colorado. We’re at the bottom of the fourth quartile.”
Penley has a lot to be proud of. He has added 25 faculty members, an increase not seen since 1991 despite the “substantial net increase” of students since that same year.
Since his inauguration, CSU has seen a 35 percent increase in research dollars, some of that landing in the test tubes and beakers of undergraduate students learning the toils of their industry.
“We’ve accomplished a great deal in the last three years,” he said. “CSU is one of the most productive research universities in the United States.”
Nationally, CSU receives one of the highest levels of federal research money of universities without medical schools. Federal research funds during the fiscal 2006 academic year topped $190 million.
Penley also revealed that enrollment numbers are looking strong for the 2006 school year. A noticeable increase in freshman students will be likely, but an overall enrollment increase is not expected because of the rapid rate of graduating seniors.
The steady 10-year decrease of non-resident freshman is likely to have bottomed out, Penley said.
Still, with the good comes the bad. Whether it’s financial misconduct, both alleged and convicted among faculty, police accusing football players of fraud or the hullabaloo over not airing Fum’s Song at football games, the president says the good outweighs the bad.
“We’ve taken very deliberate action in all those instances,” Penley said.
Penley, who did not order the removal of Fum’s Song on the electronic scoreboard at home football games, said there was more to McGraw than just a song.
“Fundamentally, Fum McGraw’s legacy is his affection for Colorado State University;” he said. “Fum McGraw’s legacy is not the song.”
When approached by a student at last weekend’s Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver, the president was asked by the student to sing Fum’s Song with him as a duet. Penley said he told the student he had the right to sing it, but he would not be joining him.
Penley gave no indication he would talk about Fum’s Song in the address, but by his own accord, anything can change at the last minute.
“I change speeches as I am sitting on the stage being introduced,” he said, “and I change them as I am standing there, based on audience reaction.”
Staff writer James Baetke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: President Penley’s Fall Address
When: Today, 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Oval
What else: The university marching band will perform and a free picnic will be provided.