Sep 142004
Authors: Erin Skarda

The usual silence on CSU’s historic Oval was broken by the sound

of drums, horns and brass instruments Tuesday morning as a large

crowd gathered to hear CSU President Larry Penley’s annual Fall


The sound of the CSU marching band bounced from the buildings as

a sea of green-and-gold shirts invaded the West Lawn. The visual

ensemble rhythmically twirled brightly colored flags synchronized

with the beating of the drums.

Penley was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m., and as that time

approached, hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community

members convened on the lawn, waiting for the 13th CSU president to

take the stage.

As the “Star-Spangled Banner” played in the background, the

campus Army ROTC Honor Guard marched the American and Colorado

flags to the raised stage on the lawn’s south side.

Penley began his speech by addressing the faculty, staff,

students and community members. He spoke about the highs and the

lows of the semester’s first few weeks.

“The start of this year has been an emotional one for our

community,” Penley said. “We’ve seen the highs of a successful Ram

Welcome for new freshmen with more than 1,500 volunteers from

students, faculty and staff, the introduction of our new seminars

for freshmen with 80 varied options for students who took courses.

But we’ve also seen the lows of two consecutive nights of parties

gone awry along with profound sadness this community has felt over

the loss of Samantha Spady.”

While the events of the last few weeks tarnished the semester’s

beginning, Penley remained optimistic about the year to come.

“Despite the emotion that we feel, there is strength of

character at Colorado State University to address our challenges

and take realistic action,” he said.

He announced the formation of a task force to address the issue

of alcohol and substance abuse. Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, previous

executive director of the Colorado’s Department of Public Health,

has agreed to chair the task force.

Penley continued by reflecting on his first year as CSU

president. He listed the year’s highlights, including various

research project advancements. Sixty-eight new tenured and

tenure-tracked faculty members were hired, along with two new

deans, April Mason and Joyce Berry, a new athletic director, Mark

Driscoll, and a new vice president for development, Don Fry.

After addressing the positives, Penley switched his attention to

the challenges faced at CSU, Colorado and the United States.

The first challenge he addressed comes from the economy and loss

of jobs. Penley said that since 2000, the Denver metropolitan area

has lost 60,000 jobs, many in the high technology area, to

outsourcing. In the past 12 months, Colorado was ranked 43rd in

non-agricultural job growth, with a loss of almost 10,000 jobs.

Penley continued by addressing the challenges of public research


“It is challenged by three years of budget cuts to higher

education in Colorado alone – of $162 million dollars,” he said.

“Colorado State is challenged by our inability in the past to make

up for the loss of general-fund revenue with tuition increases,

still leaving us with less revenue then we previously had, despite

the tuition increases.”

Other challenges facing CSU are losses of faculty while student

enrollment numbers grow, Penley said. He said CSU had an increase

of 1.4 percent students this fall.

“We are also challenged by a failure of the public to recognize

and value the richness of the resource that this is a great public

research university – Colorado State University,” Penley said.

“This is a public research university and we are proud of it as a

public university.”

Penley said the public research university is essential to the

state’s economic development, not just for jobs and training, but

also for quality of life in the community.

Penley also said CSU will continue to increase research funding

from the federal government, without forgetting most money for

research today comes from private investors.

At the end of the speech, Penley said Colorado and the United

States are facing a changing world. He reiterated the importance of

getting students into higher education.

“Colorado and the United States stand at a higher education

crossroads,” he said. “A crossroads where a commitment to

scholarships, necessary for widespread access to undergraduate

programs, will be even more essential if we are to assure that

those without wealth, status or membership in the privileged class

have access to higher education in Colorado and at Colorado State


ASCSU Vice President Ben Goldstein said he was impressed by

Penley’s speech.

“I thought President Penley did a great job not dwelling on

negatives and really showing we’re making progress,” Goldstein


Lindsay Jackson, a senior psychology major, agreed.

“I thought (Penley’s speech) was very positive,” Jackson said.

“He had a great outlook for CSU in the coming year.”

Goldstein said he enjoyed listening to the speech and thought

Penley touched on the important key points.

“We are in a dangerous place right now with state funding and we

need to really start addressing this issue before we start losing

out in the quality of education we receive here,” he said.

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