May 102009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Current CSU Interim President Tony Frank became the finalist for university president after interviewed and elected by the CSU System Board of Governors in its Thursday public meeting.

The board opted not to conduct a national search for president because stakeholders and board members alike agreed Frank has overwhelming public support, a CSU spokesperson said.

“(The board members) have the utmost confidence in him, they know how much he’s respected,” said CSU spokesperson Michele McKinney. “He has proven himself during his six months serving as interim president . and he has trust across the board, across the campus, with the students and administration.”

Members of the Fort Collins and CSU communities expressed their support of Frank to the board before discussions about the position commenced. While Frank’s exact starting date is undetermined, the BOG will officially appoint Frank the president of CSU Fort Collins in its June 24 meeting.

Until June 24, people have the opportunity to talk with Frank in several public input meetings across the state, which McKinney said provide an outlet for open dialog.

As a 16-year member of the CSU community, Frank took on the position of interim president after former CSU President Larry Penley’s abrupt resignation from the university in November.

Bypassing the national search and electing Frank was a cost-effective and uncontested decision, said a former CSU student government leader and ex-oficio member of the BOG.

Former Associated Students of CSU President Taylor Smoot said he commended “The board’s decision to not spend the time and the money to do a national search, because we have a qualified candidate.” “It’s a no brainer for Tony Frank.”

“We need to get a president in here that is stable” for the fall semester, he said.

Additionally, Smoot supported the board’s decision to re-select Joe Blake Thursday as CSU chancellor, a decision that follows public critique of the board’s selection process.

Blake resigned in Thursday’s meeting, after which members of the board re-stated their support for re-naming Blake as CSU chancellor. Blake had recused himself from the BOG on May 5 after the 15-member search committee chose him as one of two finalists. The board later named Blake a finalist for the position.

Requesting the BOG start a new search to review additional candidates, including Blake, Colorado Ethics Watch, Colorado Common Cause and New Era Colorado, hoped to instill greater transparency in the board’s selection process — something all agreed was missing from the closed-door executive session in which Blake was selected on May 5.

The board interviewed members of the public about disapproval of the BOG’s selection of Blake and ways to increase transparency, but McKinney said when queried, “no one had suggestions on what more could have been done.”

Smoot said he thought the BOG was very open about its selection.

“I fully support that decision as well,” he said of Blake’s hiring. “I thought it was an entirely open process and the decision was right; I think he’s a gift to CSU.”

Blake’s main charge is to work across party lines and within the legislature to create revenue streams to help CSU, Smoot said, in order to maintain a low increase in student fees and tuition.

Blake, like Frank, does not have an official start date but the BOG will officially appoint him chancellor of the entire CSU System on June 24.

Also in support of the board’s appointment of both Frank and Blake to the university leadership positions was CSU Professor of Politics John Straayer.

“Well I think the designation of Tony Frank as the sole finalist in the presumed president of the university is an excellent decision on the part of the board,” he said. “The university community was solidly behind him, he’s widely respected beyond the campus and throughout the state, and that respect is a good day for Colorado State University.”

“The university is above all about the life of the mind, the student mind, the professors’ mind, the academic mind; nobody understands this more than Dr. Frank.”

As for the future chancellor, he said, “By all reports Joe Blake will do a very good job” as chancellor and is “certainly widely respected in the Colorado Business community,” adding however, that he has been skeptical on the need for the chancellor position from the start.

The ideal scenario for the chancellor, he said, is “to have a chancellor who is successful in repairing the disastrous level of state support for higher education and at the same time, keeping hands-off the academic operation of the campus.”

While he couldn’t be sure of what the future holds for both, Straayer said Frank and Blake must be aware and prepared for the financial difficulties they inevitably face.

“Dr. Frank has and Mr. Blake have very difficult tasks ahead of them given the financial predicament that the university and the state finds itself in,” he said. “Given the uncertainty of fiscal environment, they need to make adjustments as financial changes dictate.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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