CSU consolidation reasonable for research

It is not the current state budget crisis, but a move toward greater efficiency, that is driving a plan to consolidate three Colorado State University agricultural research facilities on the Western Slope, the man in charge of the facilities said.

We’ll take Lee Sommers’ word for it. But it’s worth noting that, with the CSU facilities anticipating a continuing reduction in state funding over the next few years due to state budget cutbacks, efficiency becomes even more important.

In many ways, it would be great if CSU could continue to maintain three agricultural research centers in this region — one near Fruita, one on Orchard Mesa east of Grand Junction and one on Rogers Mesa in Delta County. After all, the research centers exist in three different agricultural zones. And, while the Orchard Mesa and Rogers Mesa facilities both examine questions related to the fruit and wine industry, the Fruita station primarily deals with other types of crops.

But consolidating the centers will also have benefits beyond just saving money. It will make it easier for scientists to collaborate on projects. It will also reduce duplication of resources.

These are the kinds of issues that private entities must routinely evaluate. How can they make their operations more efficient and reduce duplication? What changes will best serve customer needs while keeping costs down? In difficult economic times, such questions become especially important.

We’re pleased to learn that people with the CSU agricultural research facilities began discussion about the proposed consolidation 2 1/2 years ago, not just when economic conditions worsened.  That indicates the agency is continually looking for better ways to deliver the services it offers while being good stewards of taxpayer money.

We understand that the consolidation plan hasn’t been finalized yet, but it will necessarily cause some inconvenience. If you’re a fruit grower in Delta County, for instance, it’s a lot easier to drop into a research facility in your own neighborhood than to have to come to Grand Junction. We hope as CSU proceeds with its planned consolidation, it looks for ways to minimize these disruptions for its customers, even if it can’t eliminate them.


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