Note to Editors: President Albert Yates’ speech and photos are available online at www.colostate.edu. For recorded sound bites, call (970) 491-1525.
In his 11th annual Fall Address to the university community, Colorado State President Albert C. Yates outlined five priorities for the coming year, listed major university accomplishments and discussed Colorado’s unique but "fragile" system of higher education.
In today’s speech, which kicked off the university’s annual picnic and celebration, Yates told the crowd gathered on the historic Oval that the university must dedicate itself to five key initiatives in the coming year. These are:
- The creation (announced today) of a "virtual college" to expand the role of the newly created Center for Information Science and Technology and to provide high-tech departments on campus with the support to increase the number of high-tech graduates and to meet other needs. The virtual college, backed by $1 million in reallocated funds, has as one of its main goals increasing the number of graduates in information science by 60 percent over the next four years (see sidebar).
- Continuing to improve undergraduate education by implementing the new core curriculum, which includes the implementation this semester of first-year seminars-classes of less than 20 students required of all first-year students.
- Improving distance education opportunities around the state and nation through the university’s extension offices and through expanded infrastructure to better connect Colorado State’s educational offerings to the University of Southern Colorado and Fort Lewis College-members of the Colorado State University System (see sidebar).
- Addressing the loss of faculty and administrative leadership and moving to fill vacancies quickly and effectively.
- The creation of a University Compact, introduced in draft form recently. The compact is a clear statement of the ideals and values of the institution that applies to the entire university community (faculty, staff and students.) The University Compact calls for: the exercise and protection of freedom of expression; ethical behavior and personal integrity; acknowledgement and respect for differing opinions; a pursuit of knowledge and wisdom; an engagement in lifelong learning and scholarship; a commitment to serve humanity; a commitment to living in accord with the environment; and active participation in the university and other communities.
Yates also used his address to talk about the unique system of higher education in Colorado and the "fragile" nature of that system, and to outline some of the major issues facing higher education in Colorado.
Yates, who is the longest tenured university leader in Colorado, said that Colorado’s system of higher education is "arguably the major engine of economic vitality and improved quality of life in Colorado" and provides the state with high-quality education that is affordable and accessible. In his remarks, Yates praised the state Legislature for providing the consistent support that has enabled Colorado to have a top-quality system of higher education .
"Colorado higher education is unique; it is also fragile. Our Legislature has historically had a strong commitment to our institutions, and in the absence of being able to provide high levels of tax support, it has provided something perhaps even more precious: institutional flexibility and discretion," Yates said. "The partnership of past decades among the institutions, the Legislature, the business community and the general public provided a special mix of autonomy and accountability that stimulated innovation and entrepreneurship. This has served our state and our institutions well-yet it has also left our system somewhat fragile as a result of the magnitude of its dependence on alternative sources of funds such as non-resident tuition, private support and research grant and contract income."
Yates said the response to challenges-raised by issues such as term limits in the Legislature, funding restrictions from TABOR, pressures from building modern technology infrastructure and keeping pace on faculty salaries-is to face them head-on.
"Although we seek answers and advocates, our approach has never been to dwell on such questions, to cry ‘wolf’ or to suggest ‘the sky is falling.’ Indeed, our response, as always, is to work hard, with purpose and determination, to address the needs of our many constituencies, to exercise innovation and creativity, to seek excellence in all we do and to tell our story well," Yates said. "But now, we must do more. We must begin today to resurrect the partnership among us, re-engage our many friends and constituencies and rebuild the advocacy so critical to a strong system of higher education and a brighter future for our state."
In a speech lasting about 20 minutes, Yates also outlined several major university accomplishments, including:
- The continuing excellence of Colorado State in research-last year, Colorado State generated more than $150 million in research funding, and university faculty were noted internationally for expertise in areas ranging from cancer, tuberculosis and contagious disease research to genetics studies, work in tropical meteorology, computer-assisted writing and artificial intelligence research.
- A freshman class that continues the trend of Colorado State enrolling more Colorado residents than any other campus.
- The recent approval by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Legislature for the planned conversion of the old Fort Collins High School into the University Center for the Arts-a project designed to provide state of the art facilities for arts instruction and performance and to provide a cultural resource for northern Colorado.
- The news that Colorado State’s diverse students now comprise 11 percent of the total student body-the highest percentage ever at the university.
- The unprecedented success of the athletic department, including the rise of the football team under Coach Sonny Lubick and the volleyball team under Coach Tom Hilbert. The volleyball team is currently ranked fourth in the nation
- The recent announcement that Colorado State had achieved full compliance with Title IX, federal legislation that requires gender equity in athletics.
"It is pleasing to note that we enter this new century with a sense of community that binds and propels us. We are not searching for a vision or a mission; we know who we are and where we are going. And beneath it all, we are motivated by the right things, by the resolve to be better, to be more responsive and to continue to make the people of Colorado proud of us," Yates said in concluding his remarks. "If we can commit to all these things and pursue them with passion and spirit, then we can state with great confidence that this will, indeed, be a great year for Colorado State University."