The 17-member cabinet that closely advises President Larry Penley with many of the decisions on campus is an assorted group designed to help back the president’s vision of making the university more diverse at a time when CSU has only a 12 percent ethnic minority population.
One is a Harvard graduate, another a distinguished alumnus from Yale. There is a former high school principal, a political science professor and a former top scientist. Two are black, one is Hispanic and seven are women.
“The best ideas emerge when we surround ourselves with people of diverse backgrounds and perspective,” Penley said in a statement. “The benefits derived from an educational environment that includes individuals reflective of all aspects of our society cannot be overstated.”
The role of the president’s cabinet is to handle issues ranging from university policy and enrollment to international relations and diversity.
“The cabinet serves to keep the leaders around the table all headed toward the same institutional priorities,” said Robin Brown, vice president for enrollment and access. “(The) cabinet provides the university’s leaders the opportunity to communicate with and link to one another.”
Penley has widened his circle of advisers since coming to CSU in August 2003, making meetings impossible to hold in his office. With the expansion they have been moved to a larger room in the new wing of the Lory Student Center.
Since his arrival, Penley has adopted a strategic plan for CSU, putting diversity as one of the top five priorities for decades beyond his leadership.
“The president has been very clear in his intent to enlarge diversity, in a variety of forms, within the campus environment,” Brown said. “Hopefully we won’t have to discuss diversity as a separate item in the future; it will be part of the fabric of the university culture, embedded in all that we do and how we do it.”
Four key interests of this strategic plan include research and discovery, teaching and learning, service and outreach, and diversity.
In November, Penley introduced what he called the five-year “stretch” plan, calling for the addition of 450 faculty members, increasing student enrollment by 20 percent and creating a student body that represents the changing demographics in Colorado, keeping diversity at the forefront.
In addition to diversity training, CSU could use the proposed $100 million increase in the current $800 million budget toward minority scholarships and recruitment efforts. This five-year plan corresponds with a broader CSU Strategic Plan for 2006-2015.
CSU enrollment statistics show that about 88 percent of students on campus are white. Within the past 10 years that number has only dropped less than 2 percent.
The newest arrival to CSU and member of the cabinet is Bill Farland, vice president for research. Farland spent 27 years with the Environmental Protection Agency as its top-ranking career scientist before making a career change to CSU.
Other members of the cabinet include John Lincoln, senior adviser to the president and chief of staff; Blanche Hughes, interim vice president for Student Affairs; and Loretta Swanson, general counsel.
Cabinet members Brown, and Lou Swanson, vice provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, were handpicked by Penley to extend CSU’s reach into the community and the rest of the world.
“The addition of Lou and Robin in these positions will help us meet our long-term goal of becoming the premier system of higher education in the nation,” Penley said. “They are among an extremely talented group of advisers who help Colorado State address the many challenges facing all institutions of higher education.”
Tony Frank, provost and senior vice president, has been in the cabinet since 2000 when appointed there by President Albert Yates. He is the longest-lasting member and likes the added changes, he said.
“Larry is extraordinarily committed to the idea that people from a different set of backgrounds will really make for a stronger hold,” Frank said.
Reyna Anaya, a senior human development and family studies major, said the administration should look at diversity as second nature, not as a checklist where things have to get done.
For example, Anaya said CSU’s annual Diversity Conference is something the administration checks off on, but fails to really deliver as sincere.
“There needs to be an understanding that there is need for improvement with diversity,” Anaya said. “Administration is trying, but then they are not.”
The cabinet typically meets several times a year. Meetings are not public.
City editor James Baetke can be reached at email@example.com.
President’s cabinet, by the numbers
1 American Indian