Before hiring former CSU President Larry Penley’s replacement, the CSU System Board of Governors is weighing the option of splitting the chancellor and president positions, potentially decentralizing power in the system.
Penley was the third president to hold both roles, both of which CSU-Fort Collins presidents have held for decades. By doing away with the dual role, CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia will independently oversee his own campus’ operations just as the CSU-Fort Collins president will do. Previously, Garcia reported to Penley.
“Bringing in two people to fill the roles will provide 100 percent better oversight,” said Taylor Smoot, student government president.
The chancellor of the system currently holds the authority to oversee both the CSU-Pueblo president as well as the chief executive officer of CSU Global.
Smoot said that system’s policy of giving both campus presidents the same title, while at the same time giving the CSU-Fort Collins president authority over CSU-Pueblo’s, is a “weird conflict of interest.”
“President Penley’s counterpart was Joe Garcia, but Penley was also (Garcia’s) boss. . It’s better to have a chancellor who can keep in check both presidents and hold both presidents accountable,” he said.
BOG spokesperson Michele McKinney said the president-chancellor hierarchy is “very similar” to that of the CU System’s, which was instated before CSU’s was.
McKinney said hiring one person for the role of chancellor and one for the role of CSU-Fort Collins president will allow the chancellor to better represent the needs of three growing campuses, CSU-Fort Collins, CSU-Pueblo and CSU Global.
“This structure would allow someone to be based solely in Denver to work full-time on relationships with legislators, the governor and (the Colorado Commission on Higher Education),” she said.
Smoot said the potential change would allow the president to deal more with in-house issues, while the chancellor would be able to focus on national-level initiatives.
“The chancellor of a system this big essentially delegates $880 million, and that’s a full-time job,” he said. “One individual only has the capacity to do so much. I don’t know who could maintain both roles while still being able to connect with students.”
The discussion that will decide whether the positions will be split will likely come before the search for the next president happens, McKinney said, as the board will need to specify job requirements for the presidential position prior to posting its availability.
She said Garcia has not specified a preference regarding the BOG’s decision.
“He is leaving it up to the board, and the board will make the decision as to what is in the system’s best interest,” she said.
For now, BOG Chair Doug Jones and Rich Schweigert, CSU Global CEO, will oversee the chancellor’s responsibilities, Jones said in an interview last week.
Jones expressed his confidence in Schweigert and in interim CSU President Tony Frank to lead the system until a search process begins in January.
“We will not miss a beat,” he said.
News Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.