Tony Frank: On CSU’s commitment to Colorado

The CSU System has a home in every county in Colorado, and our employees are important threads in the fabric of communities across Colorado. Every Coloradan has a stake in how CSU runs. So, President Joyce McConnell from Fort Collins and I have been on the road this fall — and will be again in the spring — to hear how we’re doing and how we can do better.

This is something I’ve tried to do every year as president, and now as chancellor, and the trips are pretty simple, without a lot of fanfare. We just get in a car and set up meetings in the local Extension office, or wherever there’s room, with a goal of hearing how well CSU is fulfilling its promises around education, Extension, 4-H, the Colorado State Forest Service, agricultural research and engagement, and community development. When we can, we also spend some time with our alumni in the area to catch up.

We do talk – President McConnell has shared some of her goals for our flagship campus, and there’s been a lot of interest in the new CSU System Spur campus at the National Western Center, which will be well underway by this time next year. We answer questions. But our goal is mostly to keep our mouths shut and listen.

And one of the main points we’ve heard so far is that our longstanding commitment to serve students in the state of Colorado still really matters. Families worry about the cost of education, and so do we (the largest share of discretionary funding in our annual budget is always financial aid for Colorado students). Communities want to get more students to CSU and have more opportunities for health-based education (so it’s good to be able to share details on the online nursing programs available through CSU-Pueblo, and the medical school cohort we’re creating in partnership with UC Health that will focus on rural medicine). People want CSU to meet them where they are, and offer degree options that let students stay in rural areas – and that gets us talking about all the options through CSU Global and CSU Online. Pipeline programs, concurrent enrollment, and engagement hubs like our Northeast Regional Engagement Center, in partnership with Northeastern Junior College and Morgan Community College, and our new Sturm Collaboration Campus in Castle Rock, in partnership with Arapahoe Community College – these are programs that work and that we need to invest in and grow.

This year we’ve been to Fort Morgan, Greeley, Logan County/Sterling, and Yuma. In February, we’ll be in Douglas County, Pueblo, and the Arkansas Valley, with later visits to the mountain communities, Western Slope, and Southern Colorado. If you want to know when we’ll be in your part of the state, just send me a note. If you can’t attend but have thoughts you want to put on the table, please send those my way anytime.

With the National Western Stock Show events coming up in January, we look forward to having a chance to see people from across Colorado, here in Denver on the site of CSU System’s future Spur campus at the National Western Center. On Jan. 18, we’ll celebrate CSU Day at the Stock Show, and President McConnell will be in the stagecoach this year, hanging onto her hat.

I hope to see you there or in your hometown, and in the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season!

-tony

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