CSU System Board Develops Transition Plan for CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia

Note to Reporters: Michele McKinney can be reached on her cell phone at (303) 507-3110.

The Colorado State University System Board of Governors today approved a resolution outlining a detailed transition plan regarding CSU–Pueblo President Joseph Garcia’s status with the university, in light of Garcia’s decision last week to be the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor with gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper.

President Garcia had asked the board to consider a transition that balanced the best interests of the university. Over the last two days, the board had lengthy discussions focused on what is best for CSU-Pueblo.

The board agreed to a 30-day transition plan, effective immediately, to allow Garcia to be involved in all activities, such as convocation, associated with the start of the academic year. Students start classes at CSU-Pueblo on Aug. 23. The board believed it was important to have his expertise on campus during this time.

Garcia will continue his duties as president until Sept. 10, 2010, and will pursue his candidacy on his personal time or by taking annual leave as necessary. After Sept. 10, Garcia will be temporarily relieved of his full-time service as president of CSU-Pueblo by taking accrued annual leave. Upon the exhaustion of his annual leave, Garcia will take unpaid administrative leave until Nov. 3, 2010.

If Garcia’s campaign for lieutenant governor is unsuccessful, Garcia shall resume his full-time duties as president of CSU-Pueblo on Nov. 4, 2010. If Garcia’s campaign is successful and he becomes the lieutenant governor-elect, then on or before Nov. 4, 2010, the chancellor and Garcia shall discuss and agree upon the terms of his resignation and a mutual termination of his employment agreement. A search for a new permanent president of the CSU-Pueblo campus would be taken up by the board and the chancellor.

The board’s approval of Garcia’s request for annual and unpaid administrative leave is conditioned upon his compliance with all laws applicable to public employees, including Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, C.R.S. § 1-45-101 et seq. (the “Act”), as well as CSU System board and CSU-Pueblo policies. Under those policies, Garcia must conduct any campaign activities on his personal time, including the use of accrued annual leave. Also, Garcia is not permitted to use any CSU-Pueblo or public assets, materials, property or expend any CSU-Pueblo staff time in connection with any campaign activities.

The board also approved CSU System Chancellor Joe Blake’s recommendation to name Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University’s flagship campus in Fort Collins, as the acting president of Colorado State University-Pueblo from Sept. 10 through the November election, while Garcia is on the leave approved by the board.

Frank’s duties at the Fort Collins campus will not change while he assumes the temporary acting role in Pueblo.

“It is very clear that the lens on this transition plan is what is best for CSU-Pueblo. The university is on a positive trajectory, and we will ensure that very positive momentum continues,” Blake said.

Blake said that Garcia and Frank have worked together on many pressing issues facing higher education and that they have a strong and mutually respectful working relationship. Blake also said that, during this transition period, he intends to spend more time in the Pueblo community.

“We are fortunate to have such strong leadership at both campuses,” Blake said. “We can share our resources in this interim situation to safeguard the integrity and momentum at CSU-Pueblo.”

“Joe and I have a very strong, positive working relationship, and we want to continue to build on the tremendous vision that he’s established,” Frank said.

“CSU-Pueblo plays a critical role in serving the educational needs of Pueblo, southeastern Colorado and the state as a whole, and I’m honored to be able to help articulate and promote that mission and its value to those we all serve,” Frank added.

Frank said he intends to meet with CSU-Pueblo faculty, staff, students, alumni and community supporters in the near future to make clear his commitment to maintaining a stable, forward-looking path for the university during this brief transition period.