CSU leaders tout accomplishments, lament high tuition

Coloradans need to come to grips with the future of higher education in the state, the two top leaders of Colorado State University said.

Colorado “has been silently privatizing higher education” over the years, said Tony Frank, president of the CSU, Fort Collins, campus.

Colorado legislators and governor have fretted in recent years about their inability to spend more money on higher education because so much of state spending is fixed by the state Constitution.

The upshot has been a “huge increase” in tuition in Colorado institutions of higher education and consequently the share of operational costs borne by the state has shrunk.

While tuition in general has risen 125 percent over the past decade, it’s risen 105 percent at CSU over that time, Frank said.

Tuition and general fees at CSU for full-time resident undergrads for the 2009–2010 academic year are $6,318, according to the CSU Web site.

Research grants, tuition and state support now make up the top three sources of income for the university, he said.

Frank and new CSU Chancellor Joe Blake were in Grand Junction as part of a swing through the West Slope and southern Colorado, connecting with alumni and calling attention to the university’s activities and accomplishments.

Blake and Frank met with Mesa State College President Tim Foster, stressing the desire to work with other institutions.

CSU has about 1,700 alumni in Mesa County.

“I don’t think (Coloradans) expect us to have separate fiefdoms,” said Blake, a former head of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The two CSU leaders also are calling attention to some of the accomplishments of the system, including its involvement with Solix Bofuels Inc., which is making biodiesel from algae near Durango, on land owned by the Southern Ute tribe.

Technology-transfer teams work with university researchers and entrepreneurs to bring lab advancement at a quick pace, especially in the area of clean energy, Frank said.

The CSU faculty, for instance, has more than doubled the number of invention disclosures filed with the university’s technology-transfer office from 42 in 2006 to 91 in 2008 and as of the end of June, the number was more than 100 for 2009, according to the university.

Disclosures are descriptions of inventions.

“We need to do a better job of explaining the benefits of research,” and the tour of the state is a part of doing just that, Blake said.


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