As the CSU Board of Governors prepares to begin a national search for CSU President Larry Penley’s permanent replacement, student government officials insisted Wednesday that students must play a role in selecting a new president and in determining the status of several Penley-initiated projects.
Penley’s resignation, effective Nov. 30, comes as he and the BOG have already committed the university to expensive Supercluster initiatives, a $12 million loan for CSU Global, the goal of being fully carbon-neutral by the year 2020 and a statement declaring CSU as the green university.
“(This resignation) calls into question a lot of multi-million dollar projects that students currently fund,” said Blake Gibson, Associated Students of CSU chief of staff. “The question is: ‘What is their fate?'”
Luke Ragland, former ASCSU director of legislative affairs, said he believes that CSU was never more than a “stepping stone” for Penley, who has not yet announced what future leadership positions in higher education he will pursue.
“Penley has brought the university into a huge debt with the huge initiatives he’s begun,” Ragland said. “I think he did that knowing that he wouldn’t have to make those things happen and that he’d still be able to take the credit for (them).”
Katie Denman (formerly Katie Clausen), CSU graduate and former vice president for ASCSU in 2003, took part in the selection process that recommended Penley to be CSU president that year and said that she believes Penley fulfilled his promise of bringing CSU through times of lessened funding for higher education.
“He’s been a creative force in allowing CSU to support itself in times of hardship that we didn’t think we’d ever get into,” Denman said. She said that Penley’s ambitions for the university have pushed people to set strategic goals that will assure that CSU will remain a land-grant institution.
And while Denman said that she almost always experienced only “open” communication from Penley, Ragland said the opposite.
“You could get a meeting with your state senator much easier than you could get one with Penley,” he said.
For the next president, both Ragland and Denman agreed, open communication with students will be a must. They, along with ASCSU Director of Legislative Affairs Seth Walters, said students should again be permitted to be a part of the selection process.
“We’re looking forward to working with the BOG in seeking a president and a chancellor, if they decide to go that route,” Walters said.
BOG Chairperson Doug Jones asked for patience in selecting CSU’s next president and told the Collegian that the board intends to “be thoughtful, open and communicative about the process.”
“I’m sure there are many, many discussions to come,” said head CSU spokesperson Brad Bohlander.
News Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.