CSU President Larry Penley cleared his schedule to express the importance of the university and community businesses working together Thursday night.
Penley was the keynote speaker at the University Park Holiday Inn as the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce met to celebrate 100 years of success and a future full of promise.
"I believe this community can take real pride in the quality and character of the university," Penley said. He had to leave the function immediately after speaking.
Business owners throughout the city were invited to join different membership levels that give them opportunities to network with each other. This year's annual dinner, in addition to being the 100th annual, was marked with record attendance of about 400 people.
"The meeting of different people and businesses is fabulous," said Sandi Zitek, a chamber of commerce member and an associate of Cache Bank and Trust.
Penley addressed the chamber of commerce members in a speech entitled "University and Community: A Collaboration in the Interest of All."
Penley was chosen to give the presentation because he is a new president and he has new ideas to offer the community, said Shasti Bagley, events manager for the chamber of commerce.
His speech addressed numerous issues facing higher education in the future, including state Medicaid payments, fewer international students and higher U.S. demand for education.
Penley said the state's ability to fund higher education is declining. He cited the fact that CSU only works with 28 percent of the total budget of Regis University, a private university.
However, he said Colorado as a state offers students very low tuition, but that does not mean it should have a low-quality higher education system.
He said there are major challenges to focus on in the future. The first challenge is improvement to universities themselves, and the second is to improve readiness for college in children from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Children who have early aspirations coupled with effective teaching and a challenging curriculum will be the most successful in college, Penley said.
"Access without success is a bankrupt concept," he said.
There was also an emphasis made on the importance of economics in education and the importance of education to the economy itself.
Penley also described necessary alterations in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights that would allow the university to price tuition without governmental controls.
The chamber of commerce members enjoyed having CSU as part of the evening.
"We enjoy being involved with CSU and having them as a consumer," said Katie Pachek, a member of the chamber of commerce and associate with Office Scapes, a Fort Collin's business.