Talented Group Makes Up Colorado State University President’s Cabinet

Among the ranks of the Colorado State University President’s Cabinet are a Harvard fellow and a distinguished alumna from Yale. Two are sociologists. One’s a chemist, and one’s a former top scientist at the EPA.

There’s a veterinarian. A former high school principal. A biologist. A political science professor. A mechanical engineer. Three are trained lawyers. Three obtained degrees from Colorado State University. Seven are women.

Two are African American, one is Hispanic and one is Native American.

In Larry Edward Penley’s three years as president at Colorado State, he has surrounded himself with a diverse, talented group of advisors who have helped set policy for the state’s only land-grant university.

Seven people on the 17-member Cabinet are new to their positions in the last six months including Patrick Burns, who was just appointed to a new position of vice president for Information Technology. Others are Robin Brown, vice president for Enrollment and Access; Bill Farland, vice president for Research; Blanche Hughes, interim vice president for Student Affairs; Loretta Martinez, general counsel; Rich Schweigert, chief financial officer of the Colorado State University System and interim vice president for Administrative Services; and Lou Swanson, vice provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships.

"The best ideas emerge when we surround ourselves with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives," Penley said. "The benefits derived from an educational environment that includes individuals reflective of all aspects of our society cannot be overstated."

Penley has broadened his circle of advisers since he first joined Colorado State in Aug. 2003 with the objective of creating administrative efficiencies and a leadership committee that better reflects the interests and goals of the university. Since then, Penley also has worked with the campus community and the Board of Governors to adopt a strategic plan that emphasizes these interests in four key areas: research and discovery, teaching and learning, service and outreach, and diversity.

In the past few years, Penley has added to the Cabinet the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, held by Dana Hiatt, who was an assistant municipal attorney for the city of Oklahoma City – the first African-American to do so – and the athletic director, a position now held by Paul Kowalczyk. Also joining the Cabinet during Penley’s tenure have been Peter Dorhout, vice provost for Graduate Studies, assistant vice president for Research and chemistry professor; Alan Lamborn, vice provost for Undergraduate Affairs and political science professor; and Tom Gorell, vice provost for Faculty Affairs and biology professor.

Filling out the Cabinet are Tony Frank, senior vice president and provost, who is trained as a veterinarian; Joyce Berry, vice president for Advancement and Strategic Initiatives, who is former dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources; John Lincoln, senior advisor to the president and chief of staff; Colorado State alumna Cara Neth, director of presidential and administrative communications; and Katie Kalkstein, executive assistant to the president.

Farland is newest to Colorado State. He arrived on Oct. 16 after 27 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, most recently as its highest ranking career scientist.

Other recent additions to the Cabinet:

-Burns, who directs Academic Computing and Networking Services, joined Colorado State as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in 1978. He became a full professor and stayed in the department until 1998 when he was appointed director of ACNS. In 2005, the Colorado Institute of Technology recognized him with the Catalyst award.

– Hughes, a past director of Black Student Services, first joined the vice president’s office as interim assistant vice president in 2000. She was appointed assistant vice president in 2001 and was promoted to associate vice president in 2002. She received a 2006 Distinguished Administrative Professional Award from the university in May and the university’s Minority Distinguished Service Award in 1997.

– Martinez, a Harvard Administrative Fellow, was legal counsel and general secretary to Colorado College in Colorado Springs before joining Colorado State this year. She has also served as a staff attorney in the University Counsel’s Office at the University of Colorado and at the Office of the General Counsel at Harvard University.

– Schweigert, a Colorado State alumnus, most recently served as vice president of finance and administration at Mesa State College. Prior to joining Mesa State, he served as CFO for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. His professional career began with the state of Colorado as a senior budget analyst in the governor’s office.

Among the new Cabinet-level positions is a vice provost of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships to increase the critical role Colorado State has in the economic growth, advancement and health of Colorado’s rural communities. Swanson, longtime sociology professor and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, will help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural communities as well as address growth in urban areas.

Also joining the administration in a new position is Brown as vice president for Enrollment and Access. Brown will help the university balance financial stability with a commitment to access and affordability. All elements of admissions have been streamlined into one area, enabling the university to focus on service and marketing to prospective students, admitted students and parents.

While Brown was vice president for enrollment at Willamette University, applications grew 75 percent in the past four years, and ethnic diversity increased to 19 percent in 2006 from 11.6 percent in 1999. She also implemented loan programs to improve the affordability of college education and helped start a college-preparatory program for underserved students in grades 8-12.

"The addition of Lou and Robin in these positions will help us meet our long-term goal of becoming the premier system of higher education in the nation," Penley said. "They are among an extremely talented group of advisers who help Colorado State effectively address the many challenges facing all institutions of higher education."