In the time between his inauguration as CSUâ€™s president this past September and the Fall Address Wednesday morning, Tony Frank has spent much of his time on a statewide tour canvassing more than 45 communities.
The motivation of the trip was to promote the positive story CSU has to tell as well as its prosperity and its ambitions.
Wednesday he was back home, on the Oval, conveying to the campus community the current state of the university, the outlook for the academic year as well as the tribulations that lie ahead.
â€œMostly what I learned over these trips,â€ Frank said, â€œis how positively Colorado State University is viewed around our state.â€
While the president touted CSUâ€™s achievements over the past year, many in the audience were weary of the hovering dark cloud that is the struggling economy. Over time, that cloud has released legislation that is potentially detrimental to higher education, an absence of increases in faculty salaries and continuous tuition increases.
But even amid the uncertainty, Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda assured the community that under Frankâ€™s leadership and direction, his staff is â€œpoised to guide CSU into an era of excellence.â€
The administration has reason to be optimistic because this yearâ€™s freshman class is largest in school history. But what is less known, is that this yearâ€™s class is also the most diverse as well as the most academically-qualified class in history.
This years Institutional Profile shows incoming freshman, have an average GPA of 3.6, an ACT of 24.6 and an SAT of 1,131.
Those numbers excel beyond the last three years when the freshmen average was a 3.5 GPA, ACT of 24 and an SAT of 1,120.
Dilan Sutliff, an undeclared sophomore, said her concern lies with how tuition increases will hurt students in the long run.
â€œItâ€™s more stressful because in order to pay off loans for tuition, you need to find a job, which many graduates are having trouble with in the first place due to the economy,â€ Sutliff said.
â€œIâ€™m excited because we exist simply to support our students and faculty,â€ Frank told the Collegian after his address. â€œThe expanding of CSU can be accredited not only to the excellence of the administration and faculty, but also to the students.â€
â€œOur campus has never looked better,â€ Frank said. â€œIn no small part, because of the contributions of the students.â€
Last year, the Student Fee Review Board and the Associated Students of CSU voted on a $5-per-credit-hour fee increase to the already $10-per-credit-hour facility fee, which Frank said is symbolic of the pride students have for their university.
â€œOur students tax themselves so that those who will follow them will have a better academic experience,â€ he said.
Frank, too, lauded university faculty for exceeding $300 million in research awards and expenditures for the third consecutive year.
Also how the Campaign for Colorado State has passed the 70 percent mark on its way to reach the $500 million goal.
The campaign, which was revealed last August, aims to increase scholarship funding, provide funding for the improvement of campus faculties and allow the university to create endowment funds.
Barring all optimism, Frank discussed the arduous road ahead: a road that he said â€œbegins and ends with funding.â€
In November, Coloradans will vote on Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101, ballot initiatives that Frank said can change the course of his presidential agenda and the course of CSU.
Frank says the way the state votes, could have a $3.7 billion impact, leaving only 1 percent of the budget to spend on transportation, prisons and higher education.
If voters choose to support the initiatives in November, 99 percent of the stateâ€™s funds would go to K-12 education. The CSU System Board of Governors and ASCSU have both taken a stance against Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101.
â€œI can tell you, as a factual statement,â€ Frank said, â€œIf these measures pass, CSU will be a much different, much smaller university, and not for the better.â€
Frank urged attendees to pay attention to the bills in order to weigh the implications for both CSU and the state of Colorado.
Frank also touched on CSUâ€™s Commitment to Colorado, an initiative that aims to help the students who come from low and middle-income families receive an education. Beginning in the fall 2011, families who make an income of $57,000 â€“â€“ the median family income in Colorado â€“â€“ or less per year will pay half-price tuition.
The majority of the funding for the program is coming from a reallocation of financial resources over the past several years.
Looking forward, Frank is focused on the character of CSU and the fundamentals that define it: a commitment to academic excellence and providing a world-class education as well as the dedication of the faculty to share their intellectual capabilities.
â€œNo matter what the future holds, these are the fundamentals that will keep Colorado State University strong long after we have stopped walking these lawns and hallways,â€ he said.
Staff writer Chadwick Bowman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.