Norton to Lead Task Force Addressing Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a Colorado State University graduate with a background in public health issues, will lead a task force at Colorado State to address alcohol and substance abuse issues.

Norton, who served as executive director of the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment prior to being elected to her current post, will serve as chair of the committee, President Larry Penley announced today at the annual Fall Address and University Picnic, a tradition at Colorado State.

"Lt. Gov. Norton’s background, experience and leadership will be invaluable as we look to effectively deal with this critical issue in our community," Penley said. "In creating this task force and in involving a leader like Jane Norton, who truly cares about the university and the young people of Colorado, we are seeking real solutions that will work in our community and provide a path nationally for others to follow."

As part of its charge, the task force will closely examine a wide range of issues, including binge drinking and underage drinking among students, as well as the fraternity and sorority systems and the overall culture of the institution. In addition to reviewing current Colorado State programs and policies, the committee will be asked to analyze best practices around the nation and to provide a report and recommendations to Penley. The preliminary timeline for recommendations is set for early February.

Penley named the task force following the death of a sophomore student at a fraternity house, in what appears to be an alcohol-related incident. University officials last week worked with the national fraternity organization to remove the Sigma Pi fraternity from campus. In addition, the student presidents of fraternities and sororities on campus last week voted to ban alcohol at all Greek houses as part of a series of sweeping reforms following the tragedy.

In addition to Norton, Linda Kuk, Colorado State vice president for Student Affairs and dean of Admissions, and Cheryl Olson, a community leader with experience in substance abuse and health issues, also will serve as working chairs for the committee. The committee will include four Colorado State students, local medical and police officials, community leaders and faculty and staff from the university. The committee roster will be finalized this week.

Prior to joining Gov. Bill Owens’ administration, Norton was tapped by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to serve as the six-state (Colo., Mont., N.D., S.D., Utah and Wyo.) regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has also served as a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, filling the remainder of an unexpired term from mid-1986 to January 1987.

Born and raised in Grand Junction, Norton began teaching middle school in Fort Lupton after graduating from Colorado State University in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science with distinction in health sciences.  She also has a Master of Sciences in Management degree from Regis University.