CSU has the opportunity to become the school of choice for the brightest Colorado high school students, said presidential candidate Larry Penley on Tuesday.
Penley spoke to staff, faculty and students as he made his campus visit. He is one of two finalists to replace current CSU President Albert C. Yates, who will be retiring in June.
Currently the dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, Penley earned his undergraduate degree in psychology at Wake Forest University where he also earned a master’s degree in communication. He earned a doctorate in management from the University of Georgia.
Penley offered his insight on tuition, budget cuts, the role of a land-grant institution, CSU’s undergraduate program and the role of a university leader.
“CSU is an excellent university,” Penley said to faculty in the Associated Students of CSU Senate Chambers. “It should be proud of its research program and its great undergraduate program.”
Penley said that along with the opportunity to attract the smartest students in Colorado, the school can focus on minority students to make sure they have not only access, but also success in higher education.
“(We can) make it so good that there is no reason that the best high school students go to the University of Colorado or out of state,” Penley said.
As a parent of a college student, Penley said states with low tuition do not help low-income families. When it came to tuition, Penley said the issue boils down to affordability and access.
“States with the lowest tuition have the lowest access (to higher education),” he said, addressing faculty and staff. “Higher tuition allows for higher access to higher education.”
Penley explained how Colorado colleges’ tuition problem is paradoxical when it comes to affordability.
He said it took 44 percent of a lower-class family’s income to pay for higher education, while only 15 percent of middle-class family’s income was used for higher education.
“(Increased) tuition resolves revenue and increases access to those students we want in higher education,” he said.
A portion of the increased tuition would be allocated to scholarships for low-income students in the equation.
Penley was asked how he saw the role of the president in external and internal affairs.
“Envisioning is the easy part; implication is the hard part,” he said. “If you don’t represent higher education in the state, you do a disservice to the institution.”
Students and faculty both liked what they heard from the candidate.
“He is very intelligent,” said Omnia Elhakim, a civil engineering professor. “He is committed to diversity on campus…he is invested in education by recruiting more underrepresented groups of students.”
Next year’s ASCSU Vice President, Katie Clausen, listened as Penley addressed students’ questions and concerns.
“I am impressed with the amount of research he did and his concern for students’ experience,” Clausen said.
Some students expressed concerns about the management of budget problems.
“A lot of people lose the agriculture aspect…it was nice to hear him talk about that aspect,” said Colleen Doyle, a senior history major. “(But) he didn’t address the budget issues and how he’ll keep CSU’s high standard of education.”
Administration members were also on hand to listen to Penley’s vision for CSU.
“I am impressed with him and the homework he did about CSU. I think he understands what this university is about. He is a listener and a communicator,” said Linda Kuk, vice president for Student Affairs.
The Board of Governors of the CSU system is expected to make their decision by their June meeting. Penley said he thinks the board will listen to staff, faculty and students when choosing the next president.
“I would be surprised if the board doesn’t juggle what people have to say,” he said.
Penley said he is not sure if he would take the position if it were offered to him. The University of New Mexico, where Penley was a presidential candidate, announced Monday that it is in negotiations with Louis Caldera, the vice chancellor of the California State University System, to become its next president.
“I need to understand (the board’s) expectations and priorities. I need to assess my abilities with what they want,” Penley said. “To be selected would be a wonderful opportunity and I would seriously consider it. I am very impressed with CSU and I think I can do this job.”