Retiring Sen. Wayne Allard floated as possible head of CSU

In the latest twist to the presidential saga at Colorado State University, retiring U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard is being touted as a possible replacement for President Larry Penley, who abruptly resigned mid-semester less than two weeks ago.

Allard, a Republican who served two terms in the U.S. Senate and in his past life was a veterinarian and CSU graduate, expressed interest in a Greeley Tribune report on Tuesday.

“I would consider the position seriously if offered,” Allard said, adding that he has been looking at several options pending his retirement.

Having a former lawmaker at the helm of a major Colorado university or college is hardly unprecedented. Former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown was largely heralded during his tenure in the tumultuous post-Betsy Hoffman days at the University of Colorado. Dick Celeste, the former governor of Ohio and ambassador to India, is currently president of the private liberal arts Colorado College in Colorado Springs. And former Colorado Sen. Bill Armstrong is currently the head of Colorado Christian University.

On Nov. 6, Penley, the president and chancellor of the state’s second-largest university system, unexpectedly resigned his position, ending his five-year reign. Penley will be paid $389,000 for one year of his remaining contract with CSU, which expires in 2010.

His resignation, effective Nov. 30, came two months after an investigation by The Colorado Independent highlighted Penley’s efforts to shift state funds away from the university’s academic colleges and library system while injecting cash to the school’s athletics department and nearly tripling the budget of his own Office of the President.

The investigation sparked criticism and concern from longtime CSU faculty members and state lawmakers, who questioned Penley’s shift of public funding to nonacademic functions.