Colorado State University President Penley Outlines Current Challenges, Future Steps for University

Note to Editors: Broadcast quality audio and print-quality photographs of the President’s Fall Address will be available online by approximately 3:30 p.m. today at

Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley today discussed the impacts of the university’s current budget challenges at his annual President’s Fall Address, saying that ensuring the university’s future through a sound funding model is critical to a prosperous economy and a desirable quality of life.

     Discussing recent tuition increases and the work of faculty and state leaders to reduce spending, Penley called on the people of Colorado to "do their part" in supporting higher education. He cited the increased expenses facing Colorado State University as a result of additional students without commensurate state funding; state mandated expenses without appropriate revenue; and rising costs for energy, utilities and other goods and services.

Penley also noted that it is likely that much of the state’s $400 million deficit will be addressed by substantial cuts to higher education unless there are fundamental changes to the state budget. Budget cuts to higher education in Colorado have totaled more than $162 million in recent years, with $24 million in cuts to Colorado State, he said. State funding of higher education in Colorado places the state at 48th in the nation in per capita higher-education funding.

"This past year, all of us at Colorado State University were thankful to Governor Owens and the General Assembly for sparing higher education from any additional cuts – and for providing for some capital expenditures; they did their part," Penley said. "Our friends and alumni did their part – and they continue to do so. Students – and their parents – have stepped up to do their part to raise the financial viability of Colorado State and make some overdue enhancements to the quality of this university through tuition and fees."

The university is doing its part, he said, by attracting major research grants, holding down costs, and encouraging faculty and staff to be entrepreneurial in their approach to doing business.

"Now, we have to ask that the citizens of this state recognize the value of higher education and do their part," he emphasized.

"We are at a crossroads as the citizens of Colorado consider Referenda C and D. If C and D fail, higher education can be cut between $100 million and $200 million next year, resulting certainly in our eliminating some programs, raising across-the-board tuition 30 percent to 50 percent to address the impact of a $100 million cut and making some popular programs self-funding with even higher tuition increases that may be 300 percent to 400 percent of current resident tuition.

"Colorado is at a crossroads. We can privatize our public universities or we can begin to fund them at a level that continues their present missions."

Penley pledged that CSU would not shrink from its land-grant mission, no matter which way the state votes on Referenda C and D.

Penley also discussed the university’s new strategic plan while unveiling next steps for the university. In particular, Penley stressed the university’s role in scientific research and discovery, which are fundamental elements in global competition and solving societal problems. Penley said the university’s research and outreach mission will continue to address major societal issues such as the problems of hunger, disease and nutrition; providing technology and information for a longer, healthy life; environmental sustainability; understanding and addressing the complexities of public policy that come out of legitimate but competing interests in a democracy; and the challenges of desirable, well-paying jobs in a globally competitive knowledge economy.

     "To take advantage of Colorado State University’s research and teaching strengths, we must model a multidisciplinary approach that brings to bear the resources of the great public research university on the complex, multifaceted challenges of our age," said Penley. "The 21st century land-grant university must, with creativity and flexibility, assure itself of the support and resources necessary for it to serve Colorado, our nation and the world."

     Penley unveiled next steps in the university’s new strategic plan, which will continue with the university’s focus on teaching, research, service and extension for the benefit of Colorado and the greater society of the nation and world. The university’s new plan sets the standard for the model 21st century land-grant university that addresses great global challenges.

     "I believe that Colorado Sate University’s strategic plan lays out the right things to do and the right way to do them," said Penley. "We are committed to excellence in strong, competitive academic programs and creating a learning experience that goes beyond the classroom. We recognize that quality is compatible with access, and we are confronting a future in which teaching and learning will undergo considerable transformations, and these changes will require support. An educated person is elemental in economic prosperity and obtaining a desirable quality of life for all people."

     Penley also highlighted university accomplishments in the past year, noting students’ distinguished community service activities. Penley also praised students for doing their part to keep the university successful in voting for an increase in student fees to improve campus facilities as well as in taking on higher tuition costs.

     For more information about Penley’s address, including audio and photographs of the event, visit