Nov 162008
 
Authors: Sean Reed

It looks as though the iron curtain is finally starting to lift from around CSU administration.

Just two weeks following the sudden resignation of former CSU President Larry Penley, students and faculty are beginning to get a picture of what the university will look like, at least for the next few months, under the leadership of Interim President Tony Frank. And so far, it’s looking pretty good.

On Friday, in his second message to the university community after taking the top job, Frank made good on an earlier commitment to “improved communication and open, collaborative decision-making” by discussing something that is (or at least should be) of great importance to everyone at CSU: our money.

According to his e-mail, the first step in his plan is to “demystify” the current CSU budget for several groups on campus, including the Associated Students of CSU and the employee councils.

To this end, Vice President for Finance Allison Dineen is currently roving the campus, providing an overview of contemporary CSU revenue and spending patterns — a presentation the Collegian had an opportunity to experience first-hand the day of Penley’s resignation. It was riveting.

Following an administration that operated and ended under an intense layer of secrecy, this is definitely a move in the right direction.

Of course, at a university that saw a shift in focus from academic to research and administrative spending under the previous administration, there is still much to be done. Thankfully, Frank seems to be on this one, too.

He announced the elimination of a few central administrative positions that will free up about $500,000 in funds for the university.

Currently, these funds, he said, will be held in a reserve fund as insurance against potential budgetary shortfalls related to the current state of the U.S. and state economy.

While this is good long-term planning, it was his contingency plan for the funds if the fundamentals of the economy improve that was particularly impressive.

If the budget requires no major reductions, the funds will be reinvested in the fiscal year 2010 budget “in the University’s academic core.” And, in an even more un-Penley-esque move, Frank announced his intention to discuss the whole matter with the Faculty Council on Strategic and Financial Planning to ensure funds “could be applied in the best interest of Colorado State and its academic programs.”

Of course, time will only tell if this announcement marks a new era in CSU administration where academics will take precedence over central administration, and in which honesty and transparency are core values, or if it’s just bold talk before more of the same.

Forgive me for being cynical, but in my time at CSU, communication between administration and students was limited and honesty only came when whistle-blowers happened to stumble into plans to amend the Long Bill for higher tuition increases or attempts to sell the student newspaper.

Really, there’s been nothing to inspire a lot of trust.

Hopefully, though, these moves are the start of a new CSU in which the academic colleges don’t have to feel like they’re competing with administration for money and in which students don’t have to feel at odds with the folks in the Oval.

So far, we’re on the right track. Let’s just hope we stay on it.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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