While I have my doubts about new chancellor Joe Blake, it is too early to dismiss the idea that CSU should have a chancellor. The chancellor position allows power to be decentralized within the governing system.
It seems unreasonable to think that the president of CSU should also head the entirety of the Colorado State university system, which also includes CSU-Pueblo.
However, the bigger argument simply comes down to money. The chancellor position was created to generate more revenue for CSU.
As a staunch libertarian, I oppose the idea of creating government jobs where employees are given the task of raising more money from the government. It’s no wonder that Colorado faces budget shortfalls when it hires people who lobby it to spend more money.
However, Blake could potentially be useful to CSU because of his extensive private business experience. He has a long track record in both the construction industry and the business community.
Hopefully he can leverage this experience into effectively raising funds through private business sponsorships. The crisis with higher education funding last month reminds us that CSU needs alternate revenue streams in case Denver decides to slash our funding again.
Even though I have doubts about both Blake as a person and the process that selected him, we should give the idea of the chancellor position a chance. If nothing else, it avoids giving another Larry Penley unrestricted control over our university.
Many of us are still reeling from the sudden naming of Joe Blake, president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the CSU Board of Governors, as the sole finalist for the newly created post of CSU System chancellor.
As we proceed forward under new leadership, we should have a clear vision of what we’re going to get from this arrangement.
Unfortunately, the initial signs aren’t encouraging: Blake’s office will likely be at the Colorado State University System headquarters in Denver, far away from the students, faculty and staff on either the Fort Collins or Pueblo campuses.
Setting him up there is likely to cost CSU hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially undoing the responsible belt-tightening Interim President Tony Frank has made in CSU upper administration. Blake will need to make clear what he plans on doing to connect with and benefit the campus community.
Then there’s the rationale for a chancellor position, which has even, according to one spokesperson, included attending cocktail parties with donors.
If, as the Board of Governors claims, the goal is to strengthen CSU’s financial position and bring administrative efficiencies, let’s hold him accountable. If Blake’s office doesn’t bring in demonstrable results, his position should be re-evaluated.
Finally, the creation of an independent CSU chancellor is a shortsighted measure when we consider the state of higher education statewide.
With a dozen public colleges and universities, it makes no sense for the CSU system, the schools of the CU system and the half-dozen remaining smaller schools to all have entirely separate chains of command.
Maybe Chancellor Joe Blake will be the one to help launch that sort of statewide discussion about higher education that we desperately need — it will require the courage to push back against entrenched interests and the vision to unify disparate stakeholders toward a common purpose. But until we see leadership of that caliber coming from the chancellor’s office, I’ll continue to remain skeptical.