Tony Frank delivers his final Fall Address

Matthew Bailey

Video by Marlo Lundak

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After announcing he would step down as president of Colorado State University in July 2019, Tony Frank delivered his tenth and final Fall Address on Wednesday, speaking about the ten years of his presidency and the future of the University.

In his address, Frank looked back on the successes CSU had in the past decade as well as issues that may have been overlooked during his presidency.

“Ten short years,” Frank said. “A decade that has passed far too quickly, a decade where it has been my privilege to be here and work with all of you. And now after ten years, we’ve earned the opportunity to look back. And it’s quite a view.”

CSU Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda then explained the significance of the annual Fall Address as a University tradition.

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  • President Tony Frank laughs while talking to a group of people after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank takes a photo with students after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank stands for an interview after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank stands for an interview after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank talks to audience members after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank talks to audience members after the annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank gives his final annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank gives his final annual fall address. Frank announced this week that he will be stepping down as President this summer and take on a position as full-time Chancellor of the CSU System. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • Colorado State University mascot CAM the ram dances to music from the marching band at the 2018 Fall Address. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • Members of the CSU marching band perform at the 2018 Fall Address. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • Members of the CSU marching band perform at the 2018 Fall Address. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • The CSU marching band warms up in the oval before their performance at the 2018 Fall Address. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

  • President Tony Frank during the annual Fall Address directed to students, faculty, staff and community leaders.

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“It brings the University community together to hear from the president about the current state of the University and the outlook for the coming academic year,” Miranda said. 

Frank said when he became president, the University stood at the edge of the Great Recession without knowing how big the economic abyss was.

“I mention that because ten years later, we stand at a very different situation,” Frank said. “And it’s sometimes difficult to think back and remember what those early days and years were like, and yet they forged this institution’s philosophy for the last decade.”

Frank said since he became president, institutional financial aid investment has increased by 337 percent.

“There is not a unit on this campus, from athletics to the performing arts, that is not in better shape than it was ten years ago,” Frank said.

I start my last year as the president of Colorado State University with knowing that I have done my best and grateful for the immense honor and privilege it has been to do this work alongside all of you. And I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” Tony Frank, University President.

Frank also said the $300 million research expenditure barrier, the money spent on creative work and research undertaken by the University, was broken for the first time ten years ago, and has been broken every year since. 

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“I do think it’s important to pause for a moment when we come together collectively and celebrate certain accomplishments because they are the results of all of your hard work,” Frank said.

Frank said efforts to diversify the student population stagnated ten years ago. At that time, 13 percent of the student population was made up of diverse students, up from only 11 percent recorded the decade before.

Now, diverse students represent more than 20 percent of the incoming class, Frank said.

“As an international student, it means a lot to me to feel included and respected at CSU and he always speaks about the value of diversity which makes me prouder to be here,” said Debora Nunes, a CSU economics Ph.D. student.

For the first time, Frank also announced that the $1 billion goal of the State Your Purpose campaign has been reached one-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. The campaign was launched to increase the number of scholarships the University can give, invest in infrastructure and increase CSU’s endowment, according to its website

“We brought that campaign to a conclusion over budget ahead of time and immediately set a new goal and started a new campaign, the State Your Purpose Campaign, that had an audacious goal, some might even have said a ludicrous goal of raising one billion dollars,” Frank said. “That success is due to the hard work of a lot of people.”

In the midst of these successes, Frank also talked about problems the University has faced that might have been overlooked during the past decade.

“CSU is the sort of place that will look ahead, and when we do, we see serious, substantive and important work that needs our attention,” Frank said. “What’s of most interest to me are the things I might not see. What opportunities were missed. What priorities didn’t we advance by not pushing hard enough.”

Frank said in this time, 6,400 people never graduated, 202 people are no longer alive and 55 people committed suicide.

“What dreams were lost?” Frank asked. “What potential went unfulfilled?”

Courtney Carlisle, a senior business administration major, explained the impact Frank’s acknowledgment of these people had on her. 

“I’ve personally have had friends who have passed away at CSU, and so I think it was really great that he honored them in that way and acknowledged that that’s an issue on campus,” Carlisle said.

Frank said these are serious issues that need to be addressed in the future.

“Our time is not yet over,” Frank said. “We have breath in our lungs, let us use our voice. There is work left undone that need not be left undone and it is not the CSU way to turn away, because it’s the CSU way to lean in, to stride, to achieve, to excel.”

In closing, Frank talked about the importance the student, faculty and administrative bodies of the University. Frank said the responsibility of these bodies is to give grace, support, patience as well as impatience to the next president.

“The success of Colorado State University has less to do with who occupies the president’s chair than the people who teach our classes, run our research laboratories and who we admit and graduate from this University,” Frank said. 

This message was especially important to junior chemical and biological engineering major Kyra Jensen.

“It was really powerful that he mentioned that the person who sits in the president’s chair is not really the one who makes the University,” Jensen said. “I’m optimistic about the future and who will come later.”

As Frank prepares to conclude his presidency and transition into his role as full-time chancellor, biochemistry sophomore Mia Salem reflected on the impact Frank has made on CSU.

“What I took out is that we still need to keep improving, so it’s our job as a student body to help improve our campus,” Salem said. “While it is sad that he’s leaving, I do believe that he will leave CSU in a very good place.”

I do the very best I can, the very best I know how. And I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

Frank concluded his address with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln, one he used in the very first email he released to the student and faculty bodies after taking on the role of CSU president 10 years ago.

“I start my last year as the president of Colorado State University with knowing that I have done my best and grateful for the immense honor and privilege it has been to do this work alongside all of you. And I mean to keep on doing so until the end,” Frank said.

Matt Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @mattbailey760.