Dear Colleagues,

The Governor today announced that he will be balancing the state budget with a series of additional reductions, including a $145 million General Fund cut to higher education that will be completely offset and backfilled with federal stimulus funds. Facing an extremely difficult budget situation, he has once again expressed his commitment to preserving student access to affordable, high-quality higher education in Colorado.

This latest budget update is news we were anticipating, and it won’t alter our approach to planning for next year and beyond. Although we’ve been working with different scenarios for many months now, the process will get fully underway early spring semester with our campus-wide planning and budget hearings. Again, I encourage all of you to participate in those hearings and to continue to share your thoughts and ideas about university budgets and priorities.

While the state’s revenue news continues to be somewhat disheartening, if not unexpected, I think it’s worthwhile to offer some perspective to our current situation. At last Friday’s 1870 Dinner for CSU donors — and for the last three days as we’ve been meeting with CSU staff and community officials in Lamar, La Junta, Rocky Ford, and other southeast Colorado communities — I’ve had a chance to talk to a great many people about the importance of sustaining access to the state’s land-grant university. And the response has been overwhelming. From parents and prospective students to people on opposite ends of the political spectrum, people invariably express their strong support and concurrence with the idea that anyone with the talent and motivation to aspire to make a difference in our world should have access to an exceptional public education. That idea, so central to our university mission, is as alive today as it was when our institution was founded.

Among fiscal conservatives and liberals alike, we’ve also heard unfailing understanding that higher education is central to rebuilding a healthy economy for Colorado. These sentiments echo the sense we’ve had from the Governor and his new Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education, Rico Munn, who are doing all they can to navigate the state thoughtfully through the challenges that face us all.

So even as we consider this latest news, I think we can do so with the confidence that CSU and higher education are, in fact, valued by our state — and our state leaders are actively working toward a funding solution that will preserve a quality system of higher education both for its importance to our economy and the opportunity it creates for all our citizens.

With that, I’m going to shut down my laptop, wrap up my afternoon presentation to the La Junta Rotary, and try to fight the snowstorm back to Fort Collins. Be safe and take care — and remember to check the campus snow line at (970) 491-SNOW for updates. The Public Safety Team is monitoring the weather and travel situation closely as this storm progresses.

Thanks — and enjoy this great Colorado weekend.


Tony Frank