CSU President Larry Penley touted the university’s accomplishments and emphasized the importance of more funding from the state in his address to students, faculty and staff on the Oval Thursday.
Penley opened his speech discussing the university’s foundation of tradition, raising a copy of the “Forever Green” tradition book.
“Of course, in today’s context, being green goes beyond CSU’s traditions,” Penley said. “It refers to sustainability of our environment and it’s resources. This is a responsibility that is in keeping with the vision and mission of the university.”
Penley mentioned accomplishments such as the implementation of CSU’s wind farm, world-ranked programs in natural resources and clean energy alternatives and the opening of the new Academic Village – a $42 million facility that houses engineering and honors students.
The university picnic following his speech, Penley said, used biodegradable plates and utensils, and all of the waste will be turned into compost.
Penley said CSU’s programs in natural resources, ecosystems biology, agricultural sciences, engineering and atmospheric science were important in their contributions to environmental sustainability, efforts which were funded by the record-setting $296 million research expenditures CSU has budgeted in it’s 2007 fiscal year.
“Research intensity is a strong endorsement of the faculty, staff, students and post-docs,” Penley said. “It is a testament to the confidence that funding agencies have in CSU and our faculty, and a continuing source for our students, providing them with the experiential learning opportunities . for which our graduates so richly benefit in their subsequent years.”
In his address, Penley also commended the university’s recent ranking as a top tier school in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition. The university ranks 124th when compared to all schools and 62nd next to only public institutions, the magazine reported.
That ranking, Penley said, could slip if the university doesn’t receive more support. At least one study has placed Colorado dead last in state funding of higher education.
In the past year, Penley has received some harsh criticism for his battle with the governor and legislators to increase the state’s stake in a CSU education. Entering a last minute amendment to the state budget, Penley tried to close the credit gap, which could have ultimately raised tuition – seemingly the only alternative if the state can’t give more money to the university.
“I thought it was interesting that we might actually be losing that ranking,” said Stephanie Visscher, freshman open-option major, of Penley’s state funding concerns.
Penley said that while he was pleased with the recent efforts of elected officials to grant more funds to Colorado universities, it was important that the university made its activities known to the general public so that a flow of funds could increase.
“This is a responsibility I ensure you I will not veer from, and I anticipate that you will join me in that commitment,” Penley said.
Among those attending the speech was Doug Hutchinson, Fort Collins mayor. Hutchinson said the Fort Collins community supports CSU in its fight for more support.
“Those problems are all exact parallels of what we have in the city of Fort Collins’ government,” he said. “People understanding what is being spent, how it’s being spent, and the fact that we are being good stewards of that public money and using it well.”
Penley closed his speech commenting that while efforts by elected officials to improve Colorado’s funding for higher education had been made, it has yet to happen.
“We are not content with a fate which achieves less than our students deserve, or less than this community or Colorado merits,” Penley said.
Staff writer Erik Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org