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CSU-Pueblo’s budget deficit effects

Geneva Mueller
Geneva Mueller

On Dec. 17, 2013 the President of CSU-Pueblo, Lesley Di Mare announced that in the following year, the campus would be expected to reconcile a $3.3 million budget deficit, by way of substantial staff cuts, as instructed by CSU System Chancellor Michael Martin. According to an official statement from the University, the budget deficit will be rectified through the “elimination of 19 vacant positions and 22 filled positions”; however, some speculate that, more realistically, about 50 jobs will be lost.

When I heard about the situation at CSU-Pueblo, I didn’t fully understand its implications for CSU-Fort Collins, nor did I realize that there was something major going on behind the scenes. But once you delve into the media attention surrounding the situation, it is plain to see that this has become an issue of importance to all of us involved in the CSU System.

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We are part of a greater entity known as the CSU System, comprised of three campuses: our own, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global Campus. These System leadership is spearheaded by Chancellor Michael Martin and our collective Board of Governors that is charged with creating legislative norms and controlling system operations. Within the last four years, the presidents of the respective institutions were given more legislative control, while oversight and administrative jurisdiction was eased at the System level. As we are still united with the other two CSU campuses, the American Association of University Professors believes that the actions of any of the subsidiary units are “indicative of CSU System practices related to transparency, due process, shared governance, and academic freedom.” Therefore, what happens at CSU-Pueblo does have reciprocal fallout at the other System institutions.

The CSU-Pueblo campus is unique in that it is a nationally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution. With only 5,000 students enrolled, CSU-Pueblo distributes more than $42 million in financial aid annually. Our southern brother is of extraordinary importance to the community. Not only does CSU-Pueblo provide educational opportunities for a largely marginalized and underserved population, but it creates employment opportunities both on campus and in the surrounding area. Stephen Mumme, professor of political science at CSU and co-president of the Colorado AAUP, believes that cutting staff will not only hurt the reputation of CSU-Pueblo as a Regionally Comprehensive University, but will erode their ability to hire quality faculty in the future and to provide valuable and diverse higher education to the Hispanic community that they so largely serve.

These days, a budget deficit may not incite any sort of panic in our minds; this sort of fiscal policy has become engrained in our minds from seeing it flash across the television screen countless times. However, some are concerned that this particular budget deficit has larger implications. Tim McGettigan, a professor at CSU-Pueblo, believes that this budget deficit is the first step in deconstructing the CSU-Pueblo campus in favor of a northern, more lucrative campus in Denver. McGettigan, Mumme and AAUP members speculate in concert that funds that traditionally would have been channeled towards CSU-Pueblo have been redirected towards the planning of the potential Denver campus.

McGettigan sent an email to students and staff encouraging them to stand up to the administrators and fight the cuts. After this, his email account was removed by the University. Although he employed an emphatic allusion to the Ludlow Massacre in order to get his point across, the University’s explanation that he violated a rule against using email to “intimidate, threaten, harass other individuals” seems a veritable cover-up for their censure. The CSU-Pueblo chapter of the AAUP sent a letter to Di Mare expressing their disgust with her handling of the situation and expressing their exigency that McGettigan’s email privileges be restored.

Regardless of your concern for the future of CSU-Pueblo, we can certainly all agree that the University’s treatment of the situation with McGettigan was nothing short of embarrassing and stifling of our supposed inherent freedoms. Institutions of higher education should not only provide, but command the utmost respect for our constitutional rights and academic freedoms. And if we find that they are not doing so, it falls to us—the students, staff and stakeholders—to express our discontent.

Geneva Mueller is a junior here at CSU Fort Collins. Love letters for Valentine’s day can be sent to letters@collegian.com

In Brief:

CSU-Pueblo will rectify budget deficits through eliminating close to 50 jobs

While it may seem as if the Fort Collins campus is separate, we are just a part of the CSU system

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Discontent with treatment of faculty needs to be expressed

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