LTTE: CSU’s excellence is due to its people, not the administrators

Carl Patton

Letter to the Editor submitted to The Rocky Mountain Collegian

On Feb. 24, Fort Collins residents Dave and Paula Edwards, who have done much for CSU, had a Soapbox in the Coloradoan that gave a huge “pat on the back” to our high-level CSU administrators, listing many accomplishments made over recent years at CSU as their “facts.”  From this, they argued that our “leaders” had not “lost their way,” as many of the on- and off-campus critics of the planned on-campus football stadium claim.

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But Dave and Paula have it backwards.  The continuing upward growth in CSU’s excellence in education, research, service and extension, accurately expressed by the Edwards, is not due to high-level administrators.  It is due to the hard work of undergraduate and graduate students, teaching and research assistants, committed postdocs, dedicated departmental staff members, adjunct and regular faculty, some department heads/chairs and some deans.  These are the people who drive the academic engine of excellence that is CSU.

Now, about the stadium:  Administrators, of course, rise and fall.  They all “talk the talk” about excellence.  Some “walk the walk.”  To be sure, CSU President Tony Frank is one of those who, for the most part, has and does walk the walk – except for this stadium business.  For some reason which no one can figure out, Tony Frank is fixated beyond reason on this on-campus stadium as a driver to make CSU a major player in the college football culture.  He holds the misguided belief that this will “save” CSU from financial disaster and make us “famous” (his words).  The skilled administrator that he is, Tony has worked the system from the very start of this fiasco over three years ago to bring his fixation to reality, all with his famous “private funds” and to the detriment of CSU and the Fort Collins community.  These “private funds” did not materialize.  Frank has now morphed them into bond mega-debt that ultimately falls on the shoulders of the University.

Contrary to the pronouncement of Dave and Paula Edwards, I submit that in this matter, Tony Frank has indeed “lost his way.”  None of these grandiose and ill-conceived stadium plans speak to the excellence in education, research, service, and extension that is CSU.

The “facts”?  Again, Dave and Paula have their facts backwards.  Fact 1:  nearly every sports economist of repute tells us that this football stadium business is a fiasco of the highest order.  Fact 2:  results from other universities with administrators who have tried to play this game, except for a very few major players in the football money market, support this assessment.  Fact 3:  Tony Frank’s fixation does not fit with the academic mission that is the foundation of the excellence that is CSU and it does not fit with the community.  Fact 4:  no one is divided on this issue.  The students are against it.  The faculty are against it.  The citizens of Fort Collins are against it.  Nothing divisive here.

We all hope that Tony will “find his way,” wake up some morning, realize that this has just been a bad dream, see the light, and stop this run-away on-campus stadium train.  His stadium fixation and false “vision” violates everything that CSU and the Fort Collins community stand for, aesthetically, structurally, logistically, academically, morally, and economically.

For the good of the University and all that its excellence stands for, I urge all students, faculty and staff to stand up and make your voice heard to ASCSU, the Faculty Council, Tony Frank and his administrators and the Board of Governors, about this stadium boondoggle that Tony Frank is about to inflict on CSU.

Carl Patton, CSU Professor Emeritus

Letters to the Editor can be sent to letters@collegian.com.