Ask President Penley

Mar 102004

“Ask President Penley” is a new feature on the opinion page that

allows CSU students to ask President Larry Penley questions. It

will run every other Thursday.

What is President Penley’s stance on the Academic Bill of


Josh Metten, freshman, bio-sciences

President Larry Penley: “The freedom to express opinions openly

and honestly is at the heart of what it means to be an American,

and an American university has a very special responsibility. That

freedom extends to students as well as faculty. Associated Students

of CSU has taken a strong stance on this issue, and I appreciate

its leadership on behalf of the students. Faculty have a

professional responsibility, but they need to have the freedom to

discuss sensitive and highly charged issues in the classroom when

appropriate to the topic at hand. CSU’s grievance procedures are of

critical importance for those times when students and others

believe their civil rights have been violated.”


Is the budget crisis coming to an end soon?

Mark Matson, senior, speech communication


President Larry Penley: “I wish I could say it was, but in all

honesty, I can’t. The combination of a weak economy and the

statutory and constitutional restrictions on the state budget have

created a structural deficit in Colorado. As a result, all state

agencies have experienced budget cuts — but higher education has

taken a disproportionately large hit because it’s one of the few

areas of discretionary spending available to state leaders. CSU has

taken a $34 million cut in General Fund support, and tuition

increases have only made up less than a third of that funding. Even

as the state’s economy recovers, constitutional amendments like

TABOR restrict the resources available for funding important state

services like education. That’s why, in all the meetings I’ve been

having with leaders around the state, I’ve been trying to send the

message that challenges to Colorado higher education and CSU are

challenges to the economic prosperity of our entire state, and we

need to find positive solutions as a community that will keep our

universities strong, competitive and affordable. I know the

legislature and the governor are very concerned about this issue,

too, and we’ve been working closely with them to identify such


When is President Penley going to do something about parking?

Perhaps a parking garage?

Mary Shaughnessy, sophomore, Spanish


President Larry Penley: “This is one of the top complaints I

hear from students, staff and faculty — parking is a problem at

just about every university in the country! I know our Office of

Parking Services is looking at a lot of different ways to address

the issue at CSU, including building more student lots. Colorado

law requires that parking at state institutions ‘pay for itself’

through permits, meters and other charges…so the money collected

by Parking Services goes into maintaining existing spaces and

building new ones. We continue to look at the possibility of

building a parking garage, but all of us on campus who pay for

parking will wind up paying the bill, and until now, the cost of

building and maintaining a garage has really been prohibitive.”


Funding for departments has been effected. How can budget cuts

be decreased and put more money into departments so it affects


Amit Bindal, graduate student, Department of Mechanical



President Larry Penley: “This is an important question. All

areas of CSU have been affected by state budget cuts, and we’ve

worked hard to make cuts in areas that would have the lowest impact

on students. As a result, CSU now spends a smaller percentage of

its budget on administrative support than any other campus in

Colorado, including the community colleges! But most people don’t

understand that there are really only two primary sources of

funding for undergraduate education and faculty salaries at CSU:

State general fund dollars and tuition. There is a third — gifts

from friends and alumni — and I’m placing a great deal of emphasis

on boosting the level of giving to CSU. But primarily, we rely on

state funding and tuition to pay the salaries for faculty and

provide salary increases that maintain our competitiveness and help

us retain high-quality professors. CSU has wonderful success in

bringing in federal grants and contracts to support research, which

benefits our students and faculty in a lot of different ways, but

that funding doesn’t materially assist us in offering more sections

of courses in English, introductory biology and accounting. That’s

why it’s critical that we work with Colorado leaders to find some

solutions to the budget crisis facing higher education.”


Questions compiled by Opinion Editor Christopher J. Ortiz.

Answers compiled by student Ken Kim and Cara Neth, assistant to

President Penley

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