Tony Frank: On prosperity

A couple of weeks ago, the Colorado Futures Center at the CSU System released the first of what will become a new, short-term economic forecast for Colorado. This new ColoradoCast found that economic activity in our state has rebounded to where it was pre-pandemic and will continue to expand in 2022.

This is, of course, good news, and we hope the ColoradoCast will grow to be an important and useful tool for Colorado policymakers, the business community, and all those concerned with the state’s fiscal health. Forecasts like these allow us to look beyond our present moment to what lies ahead, given the best information we have available. They focus the research and analytical expertise of a group like the Colorado Futures Center on issues of broad concern to our statewide community, providing data that can inform decision-making and planning in a wide range of economic sectors that contribute to the prosperity, health, and well-being of our state and its people.

I’d like to focus on that word: “prosperity.” Its root is in the Latin, prosperitatem, which means “good fortune.”

The goal of public university systems like the CSU System and its campuses – CSU Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global – is to bring prosperity to the nation. In fact, this is the tag line of the new national effort recently launched by the National Association of System Heads. We do this by educating a diverse and skilled workforce: About three-quarters of the students in the United States who earn four-year college degrees – and a significant number of those earning two-year degrees – do so through one of our public, state university systems. Universities also drive prosperity through research to solve problems and expand the knowledge available to humankind – and through engagement and programs like Extension, agricultural outreach, 4-H, and more, that add value and information to benefit individuals, businesses, and communities.

So, the prosperity our universities bring to this country is both personal – in the form of credentials and expertise that allow people to further their goals and improve their own quality of life – and societal, in the form of a skilled workforce, scientific and cultural advancement, and support for the health of communities and industries.

The definition of “prosperity” itself is “flourishing or thriving.” Certainly, over the past two years of a global pandemic – as we’ve dealt with health challenges, profound personal losses, and economic uncertainty – “flourishing” and “thriving” have not always felt like the words we’d choose to describe our days.

But I would argue that we have reasons even beyond the ColoradoCast to feel that our state is prosperous and thriving. I often say that we can’t choose the times we live in or the challenges that fall to us; we can simply choose to live in this time and do our best to leave a better world for future generations. And here, today, our prosperity can be measured in the new class of graduates from our state universities who are entering the job market this month – graduates who have already proven their resilience, courage, and drive by keeping their eye on the future and succeeding in college in the time of Covid. And I believe our prosperity is also revealed in the awareness that even after two difficult and exhausting years, we have the good fortune to be able to see beyond the struggles of the moment to what lies ahead – the good fortune to hope, to learn, and to continue to work and live side by side with our families and neighbors in the communities we’ve helped to build.

All of us at the CSU System wish you and your family prosperity, good fortune, and time to thrive in the year ahead.


This message was included in Chancellor Frank’s December newsletter. Click here to subscribe to the Chancellor’s monthly letter.

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3D magazine with the Winter 2021 cover