President Larry Penley struck back at critics of his failed tuition hike Thursday, charging that CSU is the bastard stepchild of Colorado higher education.
Politicians and student leaders have bombarded his administration with criticism since Wednesday night, when the Colorado Senate derailed his last-minute attempt to add an amendment to the state budget that would have effectively raised the cost of attending CSU by nearly half.
But by noon on Thursday, Penley had attacked Gov. Bill Ritter and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, publicly bemoaning sweeping program cuts he blamed on a “historic inequity.”
“The governor is unfairly permitting substantially larger funding increases for CU than for CSU,” Penley said in a written statement. “It certainly appears that the governor’s office is holding down CSU’s ability to serve its mission while allowing CU to expand theirs.”
The vitriolic statements that the university issued Thursday claim CSU will be forced to make “major cuts to student success programs, athletics (and) faculty lines,” including cutting 100 planned new faculty positions and eliminating doctoral programs.
His opponents – including politicians and student representatives – however, say that Penley tried to sneak one by.
Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Gov. Ritter, scoffed at Penley’s disdain over the defeated amendment – which Dreyer called “not practical,” as it would hurt students from middle-income families.
The governor’s plan, on the other hand, bumps up funding for higher education while protecting students from shocking tuition increases, he said.
Ritter’s son attends CSU.
“(Ritter) put forth a plan that was agreed to by President Penley and the presidents of other institutions around Colorado to address concerns,” Dreyer said. “At the very last minute, President Penley tried to pull a fast one.”
CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander took exception to the claims that the attempt was a secretive rush job.
“This wasn’t an idea that was born yesterday,” he said. “This is part of a larger effort that has been going on for many months – even years – to get to the point where CSU is treated on an equitable level as CU and other state colleges and universities.”
He added that Penley was only trying to help CSU students in the long run.
Penley cited Colorado Commission for Higher Education statistics to support his argument.
CU will gain $32 million in new funding compared to CSU’s $11 million, while the CU system’s enrollment is 1.7 times higher. And since fall 2001, CU’s spending authority has increased by $202 million, while CSU’s has increased by $55 million.
Other state colleges and universities have also outpaced CSU, he argued.
Bohlander said the issue wasn’t kept secret and shouldn’t have been a surprise to the student government – it had been discussed at two CSU board of governors meetings, where ASCSU has representation.
The Associated Students of CSU passed a resolution on Wednesday night opposing the amendment and saying that the administration’s sneaky politicking has violated its trust with the student body.
“The intention with the resolution wasn’t to compromise,” said ASCSU President Jason Green. “It was to express that ASCSU wasn’t given the opportunity to represent the student voice.”
Campus editor Marissa Hutton-Gavel contributed to this story.
Editor in Chief Brandon Lowrey can be reached at email@example.com.