May 22, 2010
President Anthony A. Frank


Let me start by adding my welcome and my thanks to all of you for being here this evening to support this special event.

Last year at the Green & Gold Gala, my friend, Chancellor Joe Blake and I stood before you and announced the Campaign for Colorado State University; the first comprehensive campaign in the history of CSU. Today we stand 2/3 of the way to our $1/2 B goal; a goal that focuses on scholarships as a mechanism of providing access to a world class education for anyone with the talent and motivation to earn a CSU degree; the sort of access to excellence that I imagine Lincoln would be proud of if he could see the evolution of his Land Grant dream — a network of some of the world’s finest universities — universities that have and are changing lives for the better.

In the intervening year, Joe and I have criss-crossed the state, reconnecting with CSU alumni — like so many of you. Since CSU, in so many ways, is your university — your legacy — we view these opportunities as progress reports to the shareholders of the university.

And we’re pleased to report that we’re in our 3rd year of record enrollment.

  • We enroll students from every county in Colorado as well as around the world, and we’re on track to continue to enroll and graduate more Coloradoans than any other campus.
  • We produce more STEM graduates to help drive the state’s economy than any other campus and we produce more STEM High School teachers than any other university in Colorado.
  • 1 in 4 of our students is the first in their family to go to college, and we have the same percentage of low income students as we had 2 decades ago.
  • We beat the predicted averages for graduation rates and our graduates leave CSU with lower than average debt loads.

We’re also pleased to report another year of record research funding.

  • We’re proud to remain the top funded institution per faculty member in the state, and among the highest in the nation.
  • We’re well positioned for the future with research orientations in food — supporting agriculture, one of our state’s most vital industries, water, the new energy economy, environmental sciences, and biomedicine — issues that will remain significant societal challenges and which we will help address.
  • Our embedded business development teams are creating start-up companies with jobs that help our state’s economy.

These areas we’ve been discussing — teaching & research — are too often separated at large research universities; but they are intertwined at CSU.

  • We blend research excellence with a passion for improving the undergraduate experience like no place I know.
  • And this connection outside the classroom goes far beyond students working in labs — it’s an extension of a culture on engagement at CSU.
    • You can see it in our past with the creation of the Peace Corps; and in the present when we produce more Peace Corps volunteers per capita than any other public university.
    • You can see it locally with Cans Around the Oval and Project Homeless Connect; and around the world with GSSE — housed in the top ranked public college of Business in Colorado.
    • You can see it in our historical outreach programs of Extension & 4H, AES, CSFS, CWI; and in our new methods of delivering education across the state via DCE and CSU-GC; partnerships with colleagues at CSU-P, and a series of connections with our partners in the community college system ranging from a CSU Transfer Center to CSU transfer advisors embedded in the community colleges.

CSU is fully engaged as Colorado’s university — in teaching, research and service.

Of course we have our challenges — some of you may have heard that the state faces some fiscal issues.

  • But we should never begin any discussion of these challenges without first pausing to thank our elected officials who are guiding us through the most difficult times of our lives, often in thank-less roles with one and sometimes both hands tied behind their back. Won’t you join me in thanking them for their service to Colorado?
  • As we approached the financial crisis, we knew we needed to demonstrate that we were accountable; good stewards of the public trust. That’s why we created the Financial Accountability Report. Its available on the President’s website, and its designed so anyone can see where every dollar comes from, where every dollar is spent, and how that’s changed over time. We’re proud of our transparency as a public institution.
  • We knew we needed to control expenses — by the end of the next fiscal year, we’ll have taken a 23% expense reduction — $30M — from our state support over 3 years. We’ve done so largely via administrative cuts that have spared the classroom and the lab. Our employees are entering the 3rd year without salary increases, and — bluntly — we have fewer people working harder.
  • And in the midst of all of these challenges, access has remained a top priority as financial aid is, for the 4th year in a row, the largest single discretionary portion of our budget with roughly 1/3 of our tuition increase — over $4M — going back into assuring access to excellence.
  • We’re proud that at the end of the next fiscal year when federal stimulus bridge funds are expended, CSU’s budget will be fully balanced.
  • Of course, we know that the state faces additional fiscal challenges; the cliff that remains for the state of Colorado — not all state agencies or even all universities and colleges have been able to balance their budgets as we have, and we urge all of you to be actively involved in the discussions about how to save public higher education in Colorado.

And make no mistake, public higher education is worth saving.

  • It is not possible to discuss funding public education without the issue of rising tuition coming up. So consider the following:
  • CSU receives the same amount to educate a student that it did 2 decades ago — that’s an amazing record of controlling expenses while increasing quality over a long period of time.
    • But 20 years ago, we all chipped in to cover 2/3 of those costs to assure we had access to all our human capital, where today, 2/3 of the cost falls on a student and his or her family.
    • That’s why tuition has increased: not because universities haven’t controlled costs, but because we’ve been silently privatizing the greatest public education system in the world while our economic competitors make unprecedented investments and the global economy shifts to knowledge and technology as the new coins of the realm.
  • And consider this : the 4000+ graduates who crossed the stage at Moby arena last weekend will repay the state’s tax investment via taxes on their college-related incomes in less than 5-years, and over the span of their careers, they’ll put nearly $10 back into the state tax coffers for each dollar used to help them earn their degrees.
  • But statistics and financial ROI’s notwithstanding, the most important reason to save public higher education is people.
    • At last year’s Gala, we discussed people with talent and potential who honed their skills via a CSU education and went on to careers of remarkable service. People like Governor Bill Ritter and state Representative Polly Baca.
    • But now, we are very much at the brink of saying to the next generation of talented young people that we — as a society — are less interested in their potential than we are in the fact that they may have been born poor. There is something fundamentally un-American about that approach because we have always been a nation where merit trumps class and talent triumphs over status.
    • I think Lincoln would be proud of what Land Grant Universities have accomplished, but I think he would be saddened that we are having this discussion.
    • This issue must concern all of us as citizens, but it must especially concern us at CSU because of our heritage of producing great leaders from unpolished talent and desire. Leaders such as those here this evening who generously serve as Honorary Gala Co-Chairs: the Honorable Penfield and Paulette Tate — who have carried on the Tate family tradition as dedicated community leaders and exceptional supporters of Colorado State.

And of course, Lori and McGregor and her husband, the late Keli McGregor.

  • We’re grateful tonight to the Colorado Rockies, who are well-represented here this evening — for being here to help honor someone who was as important to them as he was to all of us at Colorado State, Rockies President and our distinguished alumnus, Keli McGregor.
  • Keli was a champion on the field, in business, and in life — a person of character and strength, a dedicated family man. He was, in his life and career, the ideal role model for our Rams athletes — someone whose life stands as an example of what can be achieved by a student-athlete who is committed to succeed as both.
  • His passing at such a young age was a great loss for all of us, the Rockies, CSU, and the state of Colorado.
  • At CSU, we will be honoring Keli’s memory in a number of ways over the coming year.
    • We’ve created the Keli McGregor Award, which will be annually presented to a varsity athlete who best exemplifies the traits of integrity, honesty, leadership, class and fair competition that Keli so ably embodied.
    • In his memory, every CSU Rams football helmet will have a decal of Keli’s CSU uniform number, 88.
    • And September 25 will be Keli McGregor Day at Hughes Stadium to benefit the Rockies’ charitable foundation, Reaching Out to Youth.
    • Finally, we have established the Keli S. McGregor Memorial Football Scholarship, which will be awarded by the Rams head coach, beginning this season, to a walk-on player.
  • As most of you know, Keli first joined the CSU program during his second year on campus, as a walk-on in 1981, then earned a scholarship in 1982 and garnered All-America honors as a senior in 1984 before being selected in the fourth round of the 1985 draft by the Denver Broncos.
  • This scholarship fund will perennially inspire CSU football players to follow his example, work ethic, dedication and diligence, both on the gridiron and in the classroom.
  • It is my privilege now to announce the first recipient of the Keli S. McGregor Memorial Football Scholarship. Head Coach Steve Fairchild has selected sophomore defensive end Broderick Sargent. Broderick can’t be with us tonight, but he is proud and grateful to help carry on the extraordinary legacy of one of his heroes, Keli McGregor.

Tonight is, as we said, all about legacies — gifts handed down from one generation to another — gifts of wisdom, gifts of experience, gifts of opportunity.

  • Your generosity helps assure access to the generation of CSU Rams as so I’m proud to introduce to you someone who is with us tonight because of the legacy you have established through your support of the Green and Gold Gala.
  • This gala helps us provide the Metro Denver Scholarship each year to a full-time CSU undergraduate junior or senior from the six-county Denver metro area.
  • It is now my pleasure to introduce and invite to the stage our newest recipient of the Metro Denver Scholarship Recipient, Denise Gondrez! An English major with a minor in Spanish, Denise is planning to give back to the Denver community after graduation, working with low-income middle and high school students.
  • Please join me in welcoming someone who embodies the notion that dreams are well worth supporting — ladies and gentlemen — Denise Gondrez.