Years ago, the university’s first governing board worried about meals, student discipline and the train station schedule.
Today, the CSU System Board of Governors, once known as the State Board of Agriculture, has shifted its focus to the business side of things. Members look at the institution as an economic engine and the students as consumers to satisfy and equip for the competitive job market.
“The board never loses sight of ‘what are we in the business of?’ Well, we’re in the business of education,” said Frank Pierz, executive secretary to the BOG.
Putting down roots
Colorado State University did not always go by the same name. Once the Colorado Agricultural College –– started in 1870 when Colorado was still a territory –– the university later changed the name to Colorado A&M before acquiring its current title.
Documents, Pierz said, date back to the seemingly-ancient times of board discussions about what students would eat and which plows were needed for agricultural production.
Over the years, the mission of Colorado’s land-grant institution has also evolved. Though CSU remains conscious of its agricultural roots, Pierz said that it continues to move with the times.
“It’s no longer just agriculture, even though we’re a land grant,” he said. A lot of people try to categorize CSU a certain way, “but CSU is much bigger than that.”
At its birth in 1985, the CSU System Board of Governors consisted of CSU-Fort Collins, Fort Lewis College and the University of Southern Colorado. The system today encompasses the CSU-Fort Collins and CSU-Pueblo campuses, and CSU-Global, the university’s online campus.
In 2002, a shift in structure saw Fort Lewis College detach from the system, and a year later, the University of Southern Colorado became CSU-Pueblo. The system’s online campus, CSU-Global, came to fruition in 2007.
Unlike CU-Boulder’s citizen-elected governing board, the Colorado governor appoints the nine voting BOG members.
The process is dictated by state statue, which outlines that the board must have two representatives of agriculture production, one representative from Larimer County and one representative from Pueblo County.
A recently added stipulation is that the board cannot have more than a simple party-affiliation majority, Pierz said. For example, if the state has a Republican governor, there can be no more than five Republican board members.
Each member serves four years, with tenure officially ending on Dec. 31 of the relevant year, and is limited to two terms. In the event of an empty seat, the board will fill the spot and its appointee will serve the rest of the former member’s term.
The appointment goes to the state Senate Education Committee for a hearing and, if the individual is recommended, he or she is confirmed by the state Senate. The catch, Pierz said, is that the member being replaced turns over his or her duties on the same day and hour of the confirmation, rather than Dec. 31.
Through all the changes, one aspect of the board has remained constant: The state statue has not expanded to include a specific list of qualifications that an applicant needs to show to be appointed.
The present-day board
Today’s BOG books consist of fiscal year budget matters and umbrella issues, with space dedicated to a report on the student body’s welfare and concerns from the student body president.
“Often times there is discussion of the university as a business, but the most important topic of discussion is the consumer,” Pierz said. “It’s more than just fees –– it’s overall student welfare.”
Cooper Anderson, president of the Associated Students of CSU, serves as a non-voting member on the board for that exact reason: To bring student input to the table.
Anderson said he and his cabinet plan to gear their efforts toward outreach, student voice surveys and classroom visits to ensure that the information he presents in reports to the board is cohesive and representative of the student body.
The health of student services, like ASCSU’s safe ride program RamRide, is another aspect of Anderson’s report to the board.
“It’s the pulse of a small city, and the board’s concern is with how that’s all going,” Pierz said.
Assistant News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.