Tony Frank, speaking Wednesday during his final annual Fall Address, used the event to reflect on his 10-year tenure as president of Colorado State University – what has been accomplished, and what still needs to be done.
Frank, whose first Fall Address came at his inauguration in 2008, had announced Sept. 30 that he is stepping down as president in June. He will continue in his role as chancellor of the CSU System.
The popular leader had much to reflect on as he gazed across a large crowd of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on a warm fall day on the historic Oval. Before him was a campus that has changed a great deal during his tenure, with $1.5 billion invested in new and refurbished buildings, a larger and better- supported faculty, and a vastly expanded support system aimed at boosting student success.
“Ten short years,” he said. “Ten years that have changed our sense of what’s possible. Ten years that have passed too quickly. What a privilege it’s been to be a part of that decade with all of you.
“There is work undone that need not be left undone, and it is not the CSU way to turn away,” he continued. “It is our way to roll up our sleeves. To lean in. To achieve. To excel.”
Highlights of a decade
Frank listed several highlights from his tenure:
- CSU’s prodigious research enterprise produced a record year, generating $374.9 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2018 – a 10.8 percent increase over the previous year. The university’s technology licensing office, CSU Ventures, also issued 53 patents in fiscal year 2018. “During a time when federal research funding has tightened and competition has soared, our faculty have continued to shine,” Frank said.
- CSU welcomed a freshman class of 5,423 students, making 11 consecutive years of record-breaking enrollment.
- Just 13 percent of CSU’s students were from diverse backgrounds 10 years ago; today, the figure is more than 20 percent.
- Institutional investment in financial aid has increased 337 percent over the past decade.
- CSU expanded its outreach mission by reopening an agricultural experiment station at Rogers Mesa, and breaking ground on a Western Colorado engagement campus at Orchard Mesa and on a new Arkansas Valley Campus serving the engagement needs of Eastern Colorado. “Our engagement mission across the state is once again a true source of pride for CSU and a real value for the citizens of Colorado,” Frank said.
Frank paused for a moment of celebration, announcing that the State Your Purpose Campaign for Colorado State University, launched in 2012 under his leadership, recently reached its lofty goal of raising $1 billion – a full 651 days before the campaign ends in 2020, when CSU celebrates its 150thbirthday.
“The campaign isn’t over – we’re staying on track through 2020 – but we now have the opportunity to reach even higher as we look beyond a billion and open our imaginations to the next stage,” Frank said while announcing the final phase of the campaign, “Beyond a Billion.”
Not done yet
Frank also reminded the audience that amid all of CSU’s many milestones lies this reality: Much more work remains.
“This is where we are on the eve of CSU’s 150th birthday,” he said.
And in a signature Frank moment, he took time to poke fun at himself.
“This time next year, someone different will be standing at this podium,” he said. “They’ll have new energy and fresh ideas that will inspire all of us. I’ll be standing out there under the elms with all of you, wondering if the speeches always take this long.”
The crowd burst out laughing. And finally, another vintage Frank moment: A reflection on his favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, and his quote about “doing the very best I know how.”
“I enter my final year as CSU president knowing that I have tried my best, and grateful for the immense honor and privilege it has been to work alongside all of you. And I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”