September 13, 2012
In his annual Presidential Fall Address on Thursday, Colorado State University President Tony Frank told the university community to anticipate a future without public funding for higher education within the next decade.
The situation may improve, Frank said, but either way, CSU has begun planning for a future of “defunding” or privatizing higher education – even as the university celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act that created land-grant institutions.
“Unless there are fundamental changes to the way in which we as Coloradans manage the resources we entrust to each other in this place we call home, there will be no funding for public higher education – not on some far off day, not after we’re all comfortably retired, not at a time to warn our children to look out for, but in the next 7-10 years – on our watch,” Frank said. He referenced a report from the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future that anticipates a gap of $3.34 billion between the state’s General Fund revenues and expenditures by FY2024-25.
Frank said he hopes the funding situation doesn’t come to that point, and he has confidence in state leaders who are working on the challenge. Still, he said, preparing the university for defunding is essential to preserve the university’s quality and affordability – and planning has to start today. If defunding doesn’t then occur, CSU will still be a stronger institution that is well-positioned for keeping tuition low and investing in faculty and staff and resources while maintaining academic excellence.
Frank said the long-term plan will focus on:
“If our efforts to stabilize funding for Colorado public higher education succeed, we can see an unprecedented growth of quality at Colorado State – improving ourselves in nearly every parameter and metric of academic excellence,” Frank said.
The university has already made significant strides in cutting costs, he said, urging the campus community to be proud its stewardship of the institution.
“We’ve cut our expenses dramatically, taken financial transparency and accountability to new levels, endorsed performance-based funding, and we’re proud that we educate a student for the same amount today (inflation adjusted) that we did 20 years ago,” he said.
Twenty years ago, tuition covered one-third of the cost of higher education; now students must cover closer to 75 percent of the cost, Frank said.
Contact: Mike Hooker
Phone: (970) 491-1545