Colleagues and Students:

Welcome back to another semester at Colorado State! I hope you all had a peaceful break as we get ready to push through winter (think skiing and the budget cycle) into spring (think Cubs’ Opening Day and graduation — oh and final exams! Sorry students … welcome back.)

You may have noticed that while you were gone our vet school bought Disney Land.

That was a joke. Let me apologize in advance to those of you who are getting ready to write angry emails — I would never do anything to risk harm to the second happiest place on earth (behind Wrigley Field).

New dean of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

But we did hire the next Dean of our College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Mark Stetter, who comes to CSU from his previous role as director of animal operations for the Walt Disney Company. There, he oversaw the daily care of thousands of animals while managing a highly skilled team of vets, curators, zookeepers, and aquarists, along with a program of international wildlife research and conservation. He brings more than 23 years of veterinary medicine experience to CSU, and it’s certainly no joke to say that we’re fortunate to get him. He will begin working at CSU in May and become dean in July. As Mark comes on board later this spring, let’s also recognize Dean Lance Perryman for his many years of dedicated service and leadership on behalf of our outstanding vet school and the university as a whole. Lance, on behalf of all your friends, colleagues, and students: Thank you!

You may have also noticed that while you were gone we built a new football stadium.

On-campus stadium

That was, again, a joke. But joking aside, discussions about the potential of a new on-campus stadium dominated a lot of the CSU press coverage over the break. In many ways, the interest surrounding this topic — driving speculation and media coverage well ahead of the actual process — captures the paradox of college sports: a level of impact from a non-core mission area that disproportionately reflects on the university, for good or ill. The challenge before all of us at large public universities is to determine how to harness the best of such potential while avoiding the pitfalls.

For those of you who haven’t followed this story in the press, let me simply say that we are at the very beginning stages of a process that will include discussion of how such a stadium could be funded (naming rights and donor funding are the anticipated foundational elements), where it might be located (we have committed to maintaining green space and views, being sensitive to parking issues, and working with the City and local neighbors), and what additional elements (if any) would be jointly located (for example, our Alumni Association has long desired an Alumni Center, and some universities have built dorm space into stadium structures that ended up being in very high demand).

It’s just not in the culture of a university to pursue such a project without careful consideration and input, and we’ve worked carefully to define a process for moving forward. The process involves the establishment of a 15-person Stadium Advisory Committee with student, faculty, and community representation and we are building in significant opportunity for public comment and involvement. We are fully committed to pursuing the feasibility of the project, but inherent in a discussion about whether we can fund a stadium and the pros and cons of where we might locate it is the assumption that if we can’t work out the details, then this might not proceed.

To reach a decision, we need an informed discussion and I’m not sure how we could have an informed discussion without some level of information on what we’re discussing. So we’ll be simultaneously pursuing a “can we/should we” strategic discussion with a “how/when” operational discussion. The committee will be keeping all of us informed as things progress forward, and I really want to encourage members of the campus community who are interested to take advantage of the many opportunities that will be offered for public comment and discussion.

The State of Colorado balanced its budget early and with a surplus.

Budget update

Are you sensing the joke theme? Well, believe it or not, we actually did have some good budget news as the state’s 2nd quarter revenue forecast was up again, and we’ll be factoring that into our thinking at the Planning & Budget Process on 9 a.m.-3 p.m. January 25th and 26th in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. If you like to watch paint dry or apples brown, you’ll definitely want to stop by and watch the university’s budget being built for the next fiscal year.

At this point, we’re still modeling an average 3% salary increase for faculty and administrative professionals and tuition increases of 9% for resident undergraduates, 3% for non-resident undergraduates (about the same $ increase as for residents), and 5% for graduate students. We’re watching what happens with state-classified salaries at the state level and planning for an increase, but we are also committed to finding some way to provide additional, one-time compensation for staff if the state decides to go for a fourth year of no salary increases. We’ll try and keep you posted as the budget process lurches toward its inevitable conclusion in late spring.

Speaking of spring, 34 days until pitchers and catchers start to report for Spring Training …

Again, welcome back and best wishes for a successful semester.

– tony

Dr. Tony Frank