CSU chancellor search committee meets as House votes on university leadership bill

CSU Board of Governors members, from left, Marguerite Salazar, Ed Haselden and Joe Blake. Salazar and Haselden also serve on the chancellor search committee. (Photo/Colorado State University)
CSU Board of Governors members, from left, Marguerite Salazar, Ed Haselden and Joe Blake. Salazar and Haselden also serve on the chancellor search committee. (Photo/Colorado State University)
The Colorado State University chancellor search committee is meeting this afternoon to review a second round of roughly 12 candidate applications for the university’s new top spot. The committee reviewed a first set of about the same number of applications last month, according to CSU spokesperson Michele McKinney. So far, none of the names of the candidates for the position have been revealed.

The secrecy surrounding the candidate list and the committee deliberations, as well as the questionable decision to expand the university’s administrative budget by adding a stand-alone chancellor position, have raised concerns among CSU faculty and students. The same concerns prompted the majority leaders of the state legislature last week to introduce a last-minute bill this session that would set down guidelines for public university leadership searches in the state.

On Friday, CSU interim president Tony Frank proposed cutting 40 jobs and raising tuition 9 percent next year after Gov. Ritter announced budget shortfalls that would cut CSU funding by $30 million.

The CSU Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed job cuts and tuition hike in June, the same week the chancellor search committee — made up mostly of CSU current and former board members — is scheduled to conclude its deliberations and make a hire. The new position will cost the school hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars in administrative salary and associated costs in the coming years.

The CSU search comes in the wake of former-president Larry Penley’s sudden resignation amidst curious financial transactions and personnel decisions uncovered by The Colorado Independent. Echoing news from executive offices on Wall Street last fall, Penley had expanded administrative salaries and benefits at CSU out of all proportion to previous budgets, tipping dwindling resources away from faculty and students toward his own office and staff favorites.

In the absence of public statements about the candidates for the new chancellor position, rumors have taken flight. Secretary of State Bernie Buescher and former Sen. Wayne Allard’s names have been floated, as have the names of two conservative CSU board members, Joe Blake and Pat Grant. Grant, however, is a member of the chancellor search committee and therefore ineligible for the job.

At 4:45 p.m., the CSU search committee is still reviewing applications and the House of Representatives has yet to hold a final vote on the HB 1369, the majority leaders’ bill proposing regulations for hiring university leaders. If the bill passes the House today, it goes to the Senate, where it must pass through a committee hearing and a final vote tomorrow or Wednesday, the last day of the session.

**UPDATE: The Transparency in Higher Education Leadership Selection bill sponsored by majority leaders Paul Weissmann and Brandon Shaffer passed third reading in the House tonight, 34 votes to 31.

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