Sep 112008
 
Authors:

Good afternoon and welcome on this September 11th. Seven years ago, this event was also scheduled to take place on September 11th. But as we all know, the forces of history and human tragedy intervened. And so, before I begin my remarks this afternoon, I ask that you join me in remembering the lives lost on that day – and the lives lost in the ensuing war

It is an honor today, in my capacity as president, to offer my sixth Fall Address to the Colorado State University community.

As I begin my second five years as President of Colorado State, I am filled with pride and confidence in our students, in CSU’s great faculty and staff, in our more than 140k alumni, in what we have accomplished over the course of the five years I have been privileged to be part of this institution, and in our capacity to continue to build on those accomplishments as we look ahead to the next five years.

FIVE YEARS OF PROGRESS

It is a particularly American tendency to focus on the future and the challenges ahead, rather than taking the time to celebrate and reflect on our successes. I am as guilty of this as anyone-but I do want to take time today to recognize what we have done, together, to build a better University. One that better educates students, better serves the State of Colorado, and better addresses our society’s greatest challenges.

Let us step back and examine where we are.

Shortly after my arrival five years ago, I met with our elected student leaders-students who understood and believed in the mission of Colorado State. They saw a university with inadequate numbers of faculty and inadequate facilities, and they knew that the state did not have the capacity to fund either. The solution had to be new revenue, including the self-imposed facilities fee that they led ASCSU to adopt.

To see the results of their work and our vision, just look around at the outstanding new facilities in progress and just completed on our campus, from computer science to the fine arts — achieved with a combination of student fees, tuition, state revenue, and federal research grants. Those newly completed facilities include a renovated Johnson Hall, the first new residence halls in 40 years, the Biocontainment Laboratory, and the University Center for the Arts, which at long last is helping to make real the vision of the late Professor Willard Eddy and President William Morgan-who believed that a rich understanding of human thought and achievement was essential to higher education and the true independence of the human spirit.

The landscape of our campus – and the learning environment — is being transformed through these and forthcoming new facilities. But our progress as a University is not just visible in bricks and mortar.

I am proud to report that we have had the budget in the last few years to add almost 90 new faculty lines, the first net growth in faculty in many, many years. That growth in faculty numbers is accompanied by an 18 percent increase in ethnic minority faculty, a 19% rise in female faculty, and an historic low in faculty turnover. Over the past 3 years, faculty salaries have increased by an annual average of 4.2%, keeping pace with our peers and helping to retain excellent faculty.

Much more has happened at CSU in a short period of time – and significant credit goes to Provost Tony Frank and a very entrepreneurial faculty — along with our great administrative professionals and classified staff.

In the last five years, despite extraordinary national competitiveness, our faculty has raised University research expenditures to a new record $302 million – representing a 51% rate of growth in five years.

With the increasing confidence of our alumni and friends, we had the second best fund-raising year ever last year – with $79.5 million. During the last five years we have averaged $66 million per year, more than double the $30 million yearly average of the previous five years.

And I want to congratulate the CSU Foundation Board and its leader, Kathleen Henry: Our total invested assets at the CSU Foundation are up nearly 77% over five years ago.

I am pleased to report that the last five years has seen increased emphasis placed on the quality of the CSU undergraduate experience – and our student graduation rates have risen correspondingly-including graduation rates for student-athletes that exceed those of the student body, going from 51% in 2003 to today’s 68% . That’s a 17 percentage point increase.

We’ve welcomed record-sized freshman classes for the last three years, each one beating the previous. Our graduate enrollment is up 6% over five years ago. And our enrollment of ethnically diverse students has risen 13.5 percent in the last fiveyears.

Colorado State University has long been a destination for international students. This fall, we have the largest number of international students in our history-and this past year saw CSU receive national recognition for extraordinary progress in internationalizing the campus.

Colorado State University is a story of success. In the last few weeks alone, Newsweek praised CSU as one the nation’s greenest universities; The Wall Street Journal profiled the research of our faculty and students in agricultural sciences; The New York Times wrote about our financial aid operation as a national model; and the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Denver Post revealed the truth behind how the Democratic National Convention was so green. It was the Colorado State students-CSU’s Live Green Team–who managed the recycling for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. And last week in Denmark, Their Royal Highnesses the Crown Princes of Denmark and Spain recognized CSU with the 2008 Royal Award for Sustainable Technology Transfer.

We can feel very good about where we are, the progress we have made and the international standing that Colorado State University is achieving.

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

But, in the words of every child who’s ever taken a road trip, “Are we there yet?” And like any parent who has heard that question, we might be tempted to say, perhaps too emphatically, “NO.”

We have a visionary Board of Governors, a faculty, staff, and administration driven by an ambitious strategic plan and stretch goals, and all of them expect even more in the years ahead.

That expectation of more should not cloud the sense of pride we feel in who we are and what we can do:

o We are Colorado State University – a premier research university committed to the ideal that educated and motivated people can make a difference in the world.

o We are Colorado State University–a place where faculty and students collaborate in the classroom and in the field to address our greatest global challenges.

o We are Colorado State University-we expect our graduates to be active, responsible citizens.

o We are Colorado State University – with a proven track record of demonstrated success in addressing the real problems of the world.

o We are Colorado State University–the Green University, leading the way in research, education, and practice associated with sustainable energy and the environment.

CAPITALIZING ON OUR MOMENTUM

Our University Strategic Plan has served us well for the past several years, and Provost Frank has launched a comprehensive process for updating that plan. But the core of that plan-and our vision for Colorado State University-will not change, and it is rooted in our mission as a land-grant University.

The American concept of the land-grant university was revolutionary in the 19th century-aiming to make higher education accessible to all people and capable of addressing the greatest economic challenges of the day.

A few moments ago, I mentioned our late President William Morgan, and I would like to talk about Bill again for just a moment. Bill Morgan is widely recognized for his leadership in transforming Colorado’s small agricultural college into a research university-a visionary move that drew harsh criticism from many at the time who saw that vision as a break with tradition and a waste of resources. But President Morgan realized that, to fulfill its potential, Colorado State University had to respond to the challenges of its day and reorganize in support of a broader vision. He believed that CSU had to accept and engage change.

Nearly half a century later, the wisdom in President Morgan’s leadership is clear. Today, we remain committed to the land-grant mission of access, but we, too, recognize the need to change. Our strategic plan and its goals honor our land-grant mission-while acknowledging that the 19th century model is insufficient for the 21st century. Reasonable people may disagree on how we uphold that mission, but it is unreasonable to suggest that doing nothing-rejecting change-and settling for being second class–is a viable option.

And so, looking to the future, where can we expect to be 5 years from now?

In the next 5 years, we must realize the promised role of the 21st century land-grant university:

o that educates students of character who can succeed in a global economy;

o that drives practical, affordable solutions to the great global challenges of our age;

o that makes its knowledge available through its outreach;

o and that models access and accountability, creating opportunities for students from all walks of life, and assuring them a high-quality educational experience.

Let me elaborate briefly on what I expect in each of these areas.

EDUCATION FOR A GLOBAL AGE

First, our responsibility to educate students for tomorrow’s world must be examined in a global context.

The National Academies, in a landmark report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” noted the rapid erosion in our nation’s competitiveness in science and technology-and thus in the U. S. as a global economic leader. The report cautioned, quite directly, that our position as a global leader may be abruptly lost without a greatly expanded commitment to advanced education in science, technology, math, and engineering. For that reason, our society must educate a wider range of students who are capable of leadership in a global economy where science and technology are the drivers.

In that light, Provost Frank and I will be accepting the faculty task force report’s recommendation to create a new School of Teacher Education and Preparation. The new School will work across college boundaries to

increase the pipeline of teacher licensure candidates in science and math – the STEM disciplines. It will give our faculty the opportunity to increase the variety of entry points for those who seek careers in the classroom, increase the number of qualified graduates who reflect Colorado’s population, and pursue innovations in the teacher licensure process in these critical STEM disciplines. It is my expectation, as well, that we will set stretch goals for dramatically increasing the number of CSU graduates who are qualified to teach in the STEM disciplines.

In addition, as the “Green University, we must realize the potential of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability in preparing students for what researchers predict will be an explosion of nearly 40 million jobs in the green sector over the next 20 years. Our new School must respond to this challenge with new and additional curricular and educational opportunities that build upon CSU’s traditional environmental strengths. And I challenge our Faculty Council to act with speed but appropriate deliberation in working with Diana Wall, Director of the School, to make real on the educational promise of this initiative.

PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Second, we must accept an emerging role for higher education and model the strategy and structure necessary for addressing the greatest global challenges – like nutrition, energy, infectious disease, health, and the environment.

We know that the emerging role for higher education requires that we redesign ourselves to address the challenges of the 21st century:

o through degree programs and certificates that alter the human capital equation and our global competitiveness;

o in research that generates innovation and solutions;

o and through enterprise-based approaches that commercialize intellectual property rapidly for the benefit of society as a whole.

The next five years will see CSU model the emerging role for higher education via innovative multidisciplinary structures like the Superclusters with their focus on the generation of new resources and the creation of new commercial ventures–and via new and reorganized organizational units like the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, the new Department of Ethnic Studies, and the School of the Arts.

We must also lead by modeling what it means to be Green, and so I will be charging, through my office, a team that will implement a plan to get CSU to carbon neutrality by 2020. This plan cannot and will not be one that relies on buying carbon credits from others as a PR gimmick. And for the first several years, this plan will emphasize conservation strategies with potential for significant cost savings-savings that we will reinvest in wind and solar technologies to increase our energy independence. Our goal is a future that is clean, environmentally sustainable, and economically responsible.

Despite our marketing slogan, it won’t be easy. But it’s the right thing to do.

But as I have said before – changing the light bulbs on campus is not enough – not for a university. We therefore must nurture our research capacity with the Clean Energy Supercluster that we launched last spring, as we also develop new learning opportunities thru the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

ACCESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Finally, we must sustain our commitment to undergraduate education – – in terms of quality, access, and accountability. The next fiveyears must see CSU demonstrate its inherent capacity for leadership in addressing the changing demographics of Colorado and the United States-to assure that this state and this country have the knowledge workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century and retain global economic leadership for the U. S. A.

The next five years is an opportunity to take what is already a fine undergraduate program and assure that our graduates receive a 21st century education that is accountable to students, parents, and society.

Already we have taken steps to provide facilities that integrate living and learning. We have done so with our expansion of Living Learning communities, and we will continue to do so with the growth of the Academic Village.

We have already taken steps to raise the quality of the undergraduate experience–in the implementation of the plan that we presented to our Board two years ago, and we must continue to pursue that plan.

But we also have taken other steps to raise the quality of the undergraduate experience–in the creation of the Institute for Learning and Teaching, and in the planned renovation of the vacated Music Building here on the Oval. We will return this great, historic library to its origins as a place of scholarship, learning and study for students.

Sustaining a commitment to high quality, accountable undergraduate education will continue to challenge us, however. And we need to look at our University operations and continue to support improvements, particularly in those areas that most impact our ability to be accountable and provide outstanding service. The tools of scholarship in the 21st century are different-and we have an obligation to assure that our scholars have access to –and use — the full range of electronic and digital information sources that define a 21st century university and its 21st century library. In that light, the Provost is convening a task force that will focus on the concept of a digital library, on the challenges of electronic access, and on meeting the evolving needs of the faculty and students.

Let me conclude.

We have made progress in raising the quality of the undergraduate educational experience, in facilities, in revenue to support our endeavors, and in telling our story. But there is yet much more that we can do.

We must continue to invest in student access with success. We must create a rational and greatly simplified tuition plan for the benefit of parents and students. We must continue to expand student financial aid, and we must expand the pipeline of qualified students.

With regard to our budget and available resources, I am pleased that we have made progress in assuring a solid financial footing for this institution. But there is still work ahead with state leaders on a long-term solution for funding higher education that doesn’t place a disproportionate burden on students. We must accept that the real solution to a strong financial future won’t be found in the existing state budget or in students’ pockets-but through enhanced partnership with donors and the success of revenue-generating initiatives like CSU-Global Campus and CSU Ventures.

We are – in the end – responsible for our own fate. This is our vision for the next five years.

I look forward to working with all of you to achieve it.

I look forward to being your president.

I continue to take pride in our accomplishments.

Now-more than ever-I’m proud to be a CSU Ram.

Let’s have a great year!

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