Jan 172005
Authors: Lila Hickey

Despite the high turnover in CSU president's Cabinet, new members feel this is the norm and the Cabinet remains strong.

Peter J. Nicholls, CSU's provost/academic vice president, is the most recent to resign from his position in order to accept a similar post at the University of Connecticut.

"I think in general, the positions have turned over at times and we've had people with experience in the number two positions," said Senior Vice President Tony Frank, who also serves as vice president for research and information technology.

Nicholls, who was hired in March 2002 while Albert C. Yates was still university president, said his decision to leave was a result of the opportunities available in Connecticut.

"I have truly enjoyed my time at Colorado State," he said in a university press release. "However, the situation in Connecticut offers new challenges and career opportunities that I find exciting."

Nicholls' resignation is the latest in a series of changes in CSU President Larry Penley's Cabinet in recent years.

"All of the vice presidents' positions have turned over," Frank said.

Frank, who has served in the President's Cabinet for four and a half years, is now one of its senior members. He has the unique position of knowing many of the former vice presidents and their replacements.

In July 2004, Gerry Bomotti, CSU's vice president for administrative services, resigned to accept a position at the University of Las Vegas, where he now serves as the vice president for finance. Interim Vice President Keith Ickes replaced Bomotti, who had been at CSU since 1993.

Other recent appointees include:

* Don Fry, vice president for university development and advancement, hired May 2004

* Mark Driscoll, director of athletics, hired August 2003

* Linda Kuk, vice president for student affairs, hired April 2001

* Interim General Counsel Donna Aurand, hired in 2003

Cabinet members did not feel the relatively rapid turnover was a significant problem.

"We've been fortunate in that Gerry Bomotti provided a lot of long-term cohesiveness. We had a pretty stable leadership group in place when Larry (Penley) arrived," Frank said.

Fry agreed.

"Individually, in my opinion, we are all very close, we understand each other, we know we all have very difficult jobs," Fry said of the Cabinet's cohesiveness. "We all get along, but we have our own areas that we'd all like to promote while still going in the direction that Dr. Penley is leading the university."

Fry said that such changes in the Cabinet are not unusual during the beginning a new president's term.

"That's not uncommon," he said. "People have opportunities and ambitions and people move along."

Ickes agreed that high turnover is a regular occurrence during leadership changes.

"Any time you have top leadership change, anywhere between nine and 15 months later, you see other positions change," he said.

Frank said CSU's budgetary problems made the university's hiring process less competitive and may have affected some people's decision to leave.

"I think certainly one of the things you have to look at is the financial position of higher education in Colorado," Frank said.

Many university employees were frustrated by the budget cuts' negative impact on the university as a whole, Frank said.

"(CSU is) a place that really sort of gets under your skin, and you want it to succeed," he said. "And it's frustrating when a place you care about that much struggles."

Fry agreed.

"Yes it is very difficult for CSU to retain our faculty and attract students who need scholarship funding," Fry said. "(But) most states are facing similar situations."

Driscoll said he did not believe financial issues caused the recent resignations.

"Neither Gerry Bomotti — who recently left – or Peter Nicholls, who is preparing to leave, have said that directly," Driscoll said. "Certainly there are challenges, but neither one of them has said that directly. I think for them (it was) a lifestyle change or opportunity that the person thought was better."

Fry said for him, the university's financial difficulties were part of its appeal. His job involves raising private funding for the university, and so Fry saw CSU as a challenge.

"That was what attracted me to the university. I came knowing there were financial issues in the state of Colorado. None of those things kept me away," Fry said.

Nicholls' decision was announced in December, but he will not leave CSU until April. Penley is expected to appoint an interim provost to succeed Nicholls while beginning the search for a full-time replacement.

"Peter Nicholls' tenure at Colorado State University has made a real difference to the institution; he has exercised responsible and steady leadership in challenging times," Penley said in a Dec. 17 press release. "All of us at Colorado State wish him well."

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