Welcome back to Colorado State University as we count down the days to the start of fall semester!

This is a busy time and we all have a lot on our plates, but I wanted to send a (relatively) brief message just to update you on some of the developments of the last few months — and to announce a special new series of initiatives we’re launching specifically to benefit our faculty and staff.

We head into the academic year with the good news that we once again rank in the top tier of U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges and universities, even having moved up a few spots over last year’s ranking. Considering the somewhat grim budget challenges we’ve faced these last few years, I see this as a great testament to the quality of our faculty and the ongoing work we’ve been doing to better engage with alumni, donors, and other constituents. This heightened profile is also reflected in the record number of students we expect to welcome to campus next week — our Housing staff is mobilizing to make sure we have adequate housing for the higher-than expected number of incoming students, and the Provost’s Office is working with colleges to ensure we have core courses available to meet demand. I want to offer special thanks to the deans, department heads, and faculty in the colleges of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, who have done some extraordinary work these last few days to add additional class sections and seats where most needed.

I’ve spent much of the summer on the road again this year, visiting with our off-campus faculty and staff and meeting with alumni and students in different parts of the state. It’s clear to me, particularly as we work through the economic recovery and the significant funding problems facing higher education, that we need to continue to maintain a regular schedule of statewide meetings and visits to answer questions, gain feedback, and more effectively connect with different industries and constituent groups. I — along with Vice President for Engagement Lou Swanson and our Director of Economic Development Kathay Rennels — will continue to lead many of these efforts, but I’ve also asked our new VP for External Relations Tom Milligan to look for ways we can more frequently involve faculty, the Provost, deans, and other personnel in these outreach visits.

The university’s budget and state funding will obviously continue to occupy a lot of our time in the months ahead, and we will also be closely following several of the items on the November ballot that have significant potential to impact higher education. But even as we deal with these challenges, we can’t lose our focus on excellence and providing an exceptional education to our students. This doesn’t happen without the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff — and while all of us are grateful to be employed and to enjoy the many privileges of working on a college campus, we also know too well that three years without a salary increase takes a personal toll. I’m keenly aware every day that CSU faculty and staff members are working harder and taking on additional responsibilities after several years in a row of budget reductions and layoffs in some departments.

At the same time, I constantly hear stories from students and families about employees who have gone out of their way to be warm, helpful, and responsive. When I visit with alumni, they tell me about individual faculty members whose passion inspired them and whose guidance and teaching transformed their lives. They tell me about advisers and mentors whose professionalism and competence were critical to their success. All of that reflects our university’s sincere commitment to Colorado and to a high level of quality and performance in all we do.

It’s important that CSU continue to show its commitment to you — the people who make this excellence possible. A public university isn’t a private business; we can’t offer bonuses for a job well-done. But we can seek whatever small, affordable opportunities we can to recognize the importance of good people to the success of this institution. That’s why today, we’re launching what we’ve dubbed CSU’s Commitment to Campus.

Over the summer, Vice President for University Operations Amy Parsons worked hard to pull together different departments and assemble a package of new discounts and benefits that we can offer to our faculty and staff as a “thank you” for your ongoing contributions. These include free tickets to events at the University Center for the Arts, discounted tickets for Faculty/Staff Days at athletic events, and reduced-cost membership to campus wellness programs. A comprehensive list of these new benefits is featured in an article in Today@ColoradoState and we’ll continue to update this list with new discounts and opportunities exclusively for CSU employees. It’s not the pay increase that you deserve, but it’s our attempt to say “thank you” consistently for all you do for our students and Colorado State.

On that note, I want to offer thanks in advance to all of our staff and faculty who are participating in Ram Welcome activities this week. The transition to college is a critical time for our incoming students, and your involvement in this program sends a strong message of how committed we are to their success. I look forward to seeing many of you at the events over the next few days.

Enjoy this last week before fall classes,


Dr. Tony Frank