Sep 162009
Authors: Jim Sojourner

The top two CSU executives will officially be inaugurated at 11:30 a.m. today on the Oval, delivering speeches that will focus on their visions for the future of the university, including a commitment to bring in alternative funding streams as state tax resources continue to fall short.

CSU System Chancellor Joe Blake and President Tony Frank, who were appointed to the respective offices in June, are expected to establish a long-term commitment to leading the state’s second-largest university, school officials said Wednesday.

The chancellor position used to be occupied by the CSU-Fort Collins president who executed the duties of both positions, but the school’s governing board decided to split them at the end of spring semester.

Frank, who was appointed interim president Nov. 5 after his predecessor resigned amid a shroud of criticism, came to the position with widespread support from the broad university community, and faculty and student leaders continue to express support for his leadership.

“He’s experienced, he’s smart and he’s candid,” said John Straayer, a 43-year political science professor who specializes in state and local politics. “He has good judgment, and he is deeply dedicated to this institution.”

Dan Gearhart, the student government president, echoed Straayer’s comments and threw his support behind Blake as well, saying that Frank’s nearly 20-year tenure at CSU and overall good rapport with the campus community makes him the best man for the job.

“Two decades –/that speaks for itself,” Gearhart said. “He knows the ins and outs of the CSU System and CSU Fort Collins, more specifically.”

Straayer, who initially criticized the CSU System governing board’s decision to split the chancellor and president roles,said Blake’s long-standing history with Colorado’s higher education community would foster a closer relationship between CSU and the state’s business community.

Blake was an integral figure in a 2005 campaign for legislation that temporarily lifted state caps on tax increases and untied lawmakers’ hands in allocating more money to Colorado colleges and universities.

Frank and Blake spent the summer traveling the state, rubbing elbows with voters and prominent Colorado community members to convince them to support possible legislative fixes to Colorado’s Constitution, which one lawmaker called a “spider web” last year.

And at the beginning of this year, CSU announced an ambitious capital campaign that aims to bring $500 million to programs university-wide.

Frank said new revenue streams are of the utmost importance to public institutions as bad economic conditions dictate shortfalls in state and federal funding.

The university will offer a free picnic lunch during the speeches, and the CSU Marching Band will provide entertainment.

Staff writer Ryan Ferguson and Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at

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