We’re heading into the Fall Break and the march toward the end of the semester. It’s a busy and often stressful time, but also a time for a bit of reflecting and taking stock as we turn the corner toward spring semester.

There’s a lot of “business” we could discuss, as always. There are many items – budgetary and policy – that we’re all tracking on the federal side of things. The start of the Colorado legislative session is coming up and state budgets look reasonably positive, with the chance to hold down tuition increases while still making budget progress. As we plan our next budget, it’s the usual time to review where we have and haven’t made progress. This year, we’ll anticipate another step forward around living wage issues for our lowest-paid employees. We’ll continue to make progress on the salary front – building on the recent good news out of the equity analysis for our tenured and tenure-track faculty; our trajectory there is a positive one, and we have good models in place, but we still have a lot of work to do around these issues for all employee groups, and it will be an ongoing, annual exercise. We’ll continue to invest in faculty expansion out of the provost’s office and tuition revenue-sharing agreements with our academic units, where the real business of teaching, learning, research, and scholarship is occurring. We’ll keep our eye fixed on cultural issues as the Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion continues its work and as our on-going efforts around improving the climate for women move ahead behind the hard work of so many people now engaged on that topic. We’ll work with all of our councils – faculty, administrative professional, and classified personnel – to continue to improve our general working climate, and we’ll work with various student groups and, of course, elected student government as they work through their own set of governance challenges that have divided them this past semester.

But the “business” of a large university isn’t really what seems to have dominated our campus discussions and thought this past semester. Indeed, this seems to have been a tough and stressful semester in many ways – with our campus seeing a substantial increase in racist hate symbols and speech, events unfortunately on the rise throughout our country. We’ve experienced the death of one of our students to gun violence just off our campus. And we’ve not been immune to the struggle around balancing the protection of our constitutional right to say what we believe with the need for a climate that assures that hateful speech is never allowed to intimidate or isolate any member of our community, forcing them to live in fear in a way that we all should find unacceptable. And I know that the holidays, for some of us, can bring additional stress at a time when we all really need to recharge our batteries.

So as we head into the coming week, my hope for each of you is three-fold. First, that you all have safe travels and come back recharged and ready to finish up our semester. Second, that you consider various ways we can help one another and those who are far from their homes and families – whether that means donating to the Food Bank for Larimer County, inviting a guest to your Thanksgiving table, or simply doing a few random acts of kindness when you have the chance. (I’ve been driving a lot on I-25 lately; letting people merge seems to be in need of attention…) Another timely way to make an impact … the annual Colorado Combined Campaign is going on now, allowing CSU faculty and staff to make charitable gifts via payroll deduction. It seems that we all can use a little extra kindness and care right now, so be good to yourselves and one another. Third, that you’ll have a chance to think about the many things we all have to be grateful for. For my part, that will include thanking each of you for being a part of this very special university and what it represents. I am proud to be here with you, together, trying to make this campus – and our world – better, step by step. It’s a road with tough stretches like this semester, but one I’m honored to travel with you.

Best wishes for a restful holiday break. Stay healthy, travel safely, and be well.

– tony

Dr. Tony Frank