Apr 292003
 
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz Colleen Buhrer

University presidential candidate Michael Martin feels he can cope with CSU’s budget problems and form lasting relationships with the student body if he is chosen for the position.

He met with staff, students, faculty and the media Tuesday in a series of forums as he made his campus visit to CSU.

Martin, vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida since 1998, is one of two candidates being considered to take over when President Albert C. Yates retires in June.

Throughout the day Martin answered questions about many aspects of the CSU community.

The Minnesota native said he would like to improve the graduate program at CSU, raising its level of visibility, increase CSU’s impact on the people of Colorado and increase CSU’s global recognition.

A reoccurring question that came up in the forums is how, if president, he would deal with the budget cuts.

“Students should carry a significant part of their education,” he said when asked about pressure to raise tuition. “But don’t let the state of Colorado people off the hook; the should invest in higher education.”

During the last two years at UF, Martin faced an 8.7 percent budget reduction.

Martin gave CSU’s external funding a B+ grade and gave the university’s development a C.

At UF he has faced budget cuts and departmental closings, very much the same issues CSU is confronting.

“How you protect and sustain programs” is what Martin sees as the challenge in balancing a university’s budget. His main concern is protecting the core values of the university.

In a meeting with Yates, Martin also expressed concern about not being Gov. Bill Owens’ pick for president. He asked Yates how he could improve the relationship with the governor. Yates told Martin that he is not worried about the relationship and was confident the problem was “more perception than reality,” Martin said.

Martin also noted throughout the day the importance of students in the university.

Coming from UF, a university with a 47,000-student population, Martin said he has always had a connection with students and said, “Students are what universities are about.”

“I was impressed a lot with what he had to say,” said next year’s ASCSU President Jesse Launcher. “I was impressed with his land-grant and fundraising experience and him being a professor in higher education.

Martin said he thinks students should be able to email the university president or stop him on campus and tell what is on their mind.

“Students, faculty and staff should feel, in an extended way, (the university) is a family,” he said.

He noted his lasting friendship with his first advisee ever in 1981 as a proud accomplishment.

Through all the forums Martin did not say whether or not he would take the position if offered. He is currently also in the running of university president positions at UF and the University of Oregon.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think there was a significant possibility (of taking the position),” he said.

Martin said he is looking for a university of this size and that is committed to improving.

“I want to go to a school that is very good and committed to getting better,” he said. “I want to be part o a team that has a legitimate chance to (get better).”

Martin also mentioned he was a true believer in diversity in a higher education setting. He mentioned 11 percent of students at UF were students of color.

“I have gone to create a community that encourages diversity,” he said.

Martin discussed the performing arts role at a land-grant institution.

“Law mandates that arts are as important as a great engineering department. The arts ought to be part of the excellence here.”

Unlike the Larry Penley, the other candidate, Martin was searched out by CSU.

“I have been semi-shellshocked,” he said after a CSU headhunter recruited him. “I agreed to be considered in the search…after I found out two things, it was a done deal and in was confidential.”

Martin also discussed his tenure at UF, a fellow land-grant institution.

“The tradition of a land-grant institution is to be nontraditional,” Martin said. “I would like to stay with a land-grant institution…it’s a good deal to come give it a shop.”

Martin earned his bachelor’s degree in business and economics and his master’s degree in economics from Mankato State College. He received his doctorate in applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

Martin said there were some things he wanted people to remember about him. He said he thinks outside the box and often forces everyone around him to consider all possible alternatives to problems.

Also, Martin said he brings a passion with him for running the university. “I bring a largely unfettered passion to bear on things I choose to invest them,” he said.

Martin visits Southern Colorado University today and Larry Penley, the other candidate, is expected to visit CSU next week.

“I’m looking forward to meet with him again and the other presidential candidate,” Lauchner said.

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