In light of the recent nationwide economic recession, the CSU administration is preparing for possible cuts to university funding from the state and will begin to “take a hard look” at its lofty plan to become completely carbon neutral in just more than a decade, a university spokesperson said Thursday.
The carbon neutrality initiative — which, in September, former CSU President Larry Penley promised would be a reality by 2020 — envelops huge university undertakings and is now being referred to as a “plan,” said Brad Bohlander, the university’s chief spokesperson, because “‘goal’ might be a strong word.”
“The university is committed to the objectives of the plan,” he said, “but administration will be taking a hard look at the financial implications of that plan to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.”
Bohlander said the time required to complete the plan and the finances dedicated to it will be evaluated in the coming weeks.
Eric Sutherland, a Fort Collins resident who spends his time studying local green initiatives, said he appreciates that the CSU administration will reassess what he called Penley’s “unrealistic” vision, which includes its Maxwell Ranch, a property near the Wyoming border that may become the site of a future CSU-owned wind farm.
Sutherland said that CSU’s objective to be carbon neutral by the year 2020 was “not born out of academic rigor by any stretch of the mind,” citing the fact that the City of Fort Collins, after a year and a half of study, said it believes the city only capable of achieving a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by then.
“It never made sense for CSU to pursue this go-it-alone strategy,” he said. “CSU is not an island. It doesn’t make very much difference if CSU is carbon neutral if Fort Collins is not.”
The plan’s re-evaluation comes less than a week after CSU Interim President Tony Frank promised to dedicate $500,000 — freed by the elimination of administrative positions — to an academic reserve fund. The positions eliminated were executive vice-president, associate vice-president of public affairs and managing director of climate initiatives and carbon assets.
The roles were each “fairly new,” Bohlander said, having been created during Penley’s tenure. Penley carved out the latter just this semester for his former Chief of Staff Aaron Levi.
“I will be expecting all colleges and divisions to pay careful and consistent attention to institutional expenditures, especially those in non-academic areas, to ensure we’re using our resources wisely,” Frank said in an e-mail to the campus.
Bohlander said the termination of Levi and Raul Cardenas, current associate vice-president of public affairs, were “not at all performance based.” Most of the responsibilities included in their roles will be absorbed by other positions, he said.
The departments of research and facilities, along with Ron Sega, the vice president for energy, the environment and applied research, will take over Levi’s former duties.
The Institute for Learning and Teaching and Student Success will now oversee Cardenas’ obligations, which include K-12 grade outreach and partnerships.
And the executive vice-president post formerly held by John Lincoln is “simply being eliminated,” Bohlander said.
Lincoln vacated his post in October after the CSU System Board of Governors had encouraged former president Penley to “get him out of the university” two months beforehand, BOG spokesperson Michele McKinney said.
Instead, Penley offered Lincoln a contracted position in the university worth up to $10,000 per month, which, McKinney said, the board learned about in the same week that Penley suddenly resigned.
Sutherland said review of current CSU projects can only help it put its best foot forward for the future.
“I never had any doubt that the people at CSU would commit to green initiatives,” he said. “And once (those initiatives) are defined in a pragmatic way, I’m sure they’ll be very successful.”
News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.