Colorado State University President Tony Frank has plenty to boast about: CSU is enjoying a fourth straight year of record enrollment, an eighth year of record research funding and $700 million in campus construction projects over the past decade.
One quarter of the university's students are the first in their families to attend college, and the university topped its $500 million goal in a recent campaign to raise funds for scholarships and program development.
The Fort Collins university enrolls more Colorado high school graduates than any other university, and awarded more than 6,000 degrees in the 2010-11 academic year.
But what's on Tony Frank's mind as he makes a tour this month through communities in western, southern and eastern Colorado, including a stop in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday, is the policy decision of how Colorado funds its overall higher education system.
State funding formulas are complex, but Frank points the finger at rising health care costs for state government, which he said will “eat up the rest of the budget pie.”
Twenty years ago, about 65 percent of public higher education spending in Colorado came from tax dollars and 35 percent from tuition. Today, that ratio has more than flipped, with state funding contributing no more than 30 percent and tuition covering the other 70 percent.