Apr 052009
Authors: Ashley Robinson

Interim CSU President Tony Frank met with members of the RAMFAM Association Saturday, and, in responding to parent and students concerns alike, insisted the university will avoid transferring undue fiscal burden to its students.

Frank responded to the inquiries of more than 20 attendees, including parents, students and some faculty, who were concerned about the possibility of future tuition hikes in spite of recent economic downfalls as well as the Joint Budget Committee’s recommendation last week to cut $300 million to public higher education.

Frank assured that a tuition increase is a last-resort to make up for the $13.1 million deficit CSU experienced in fiscal year 2009.

“I just don’t see that large tuition increases are the best way of balancing our budget,” Frank said, noting that undergraduate resident tuition will see a 9 percent increase and non-resident undergraduate rates will rise by 3 percent. “In the long haul I’m very hopeful that we can keep tuition increases low.”

Questions pertaining to the events surrounding the sudden resignations of former CSU President Larry Penley in November and former CSU Police Chief Police Dexter Yarborough in January arose during the meeting.

Frank said that while he would love to give more information about the events surrounding both resignations, he was confined by strict personnel guidelines.

One parent voiced her concerns about Yarbrough’s $136,000 a-year salary, and Frank answered that, in his opinion, Yarbrough did not deserve to be the highest paid police chief in Colorado.

Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes, who attended the Saturday session, is chairing the committee searching for the next CSU chief of police, which is currently seeking nominations.

She promised that the salary for the new chief of police at CSU will not be nearly as high, and while the exact figure is not presently known, the final number will be released with the final job description, which is in the process of being finalized.

“As we move forward,” Hughes said. “We’re trying to make the process as transparent as possible.”

Discussions also centered on the future of top-level administration positions – president, chancellor and provost – all of which shifted and became the subject of CSU System-wide debate after Penley’s November departure.

At the end of last semester, the CSU System Board of Governors voted to split the roles of president and chancellor, emphasizing the importance of having a president on campus and a chancellor act as CSU’s lobbyist and primary fundraiser in Denver.

The status of the search for a new CSU president, according to Frank, is starting to get organized. Once they choose a chancellor – which they hope to do in May, he said – they will get started on finding a new president.

“I love this university,” Frank said when asked if he was hoping to remain at the helm of the university as president of CSU. “I’ve been here since 1993 – the blasted place gets under your skin. I care about it a great deal; so yes, I am interested in the position.”

Many in attendance were concerned with the future of public transportation to campus, most notably Transfort, which implemented changes to nine city bus routes and closed one, effective in early March.

“Right now we’re at that awkward spot where there’s a demand and a need, but not enough demand and need to provide funding to make it more convenient,” Frank said.

The city and CSU are working together, however, to build a natural gas powered, mass transport train-based system that would run regularly including evenings.

The System would route from the north end of Old Town in Fort Collins to the south end of town where a Park ‘n Ride would be available and provide further forms of transit from there.

Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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