Board leaves discretion to campuses on COVID requirements

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The Board of Governors of the CSU System discussed giving Colorado State University, CSU-Pueblo and CSU Global discretion about what, if any, additional requirements to put in place in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Following the Board discussion and subsequent consultations with local public health officials, CSU President Joyce McConnell on Aug. 11 announced mandatory proof of vaccination or twice-weekly COVID screening for all students, faculty and staff at CSU. Details are online here.

Courageous Strategic Transformation progresses toward December completion

In her report to the Board, President McConnell described progress on the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan for CSU as cross-disciplinary groups continue gathering input and creating the plan for CSU’s future. The campus-wide effort is in Phase 5, during which teams are collaborating with colleges and divisions. This phase also incorporates additional feedback from both the CSU and broader communities.

“We know the best ideas come from diverse groups, and we hope to create a campus vision that our entire community can see themselves in,” McConnell said.

The CST timeline calls for the plan to be completed by the end of 2021 and formally presented to the Board of Governors at their February 2022 meeting. Details of the work on the CST are available online here.

Additional points from President McConnell’s report to the Board included these and other items:

• The CSU Foundation has surpassed $1 billion in granted funds since the establishment of the Foundation in 1970.

• Enrollment data indicates positive growth over last year and is expected to exceed target goals. Overall registrations are up 8% over Fall 2020 and up 5% compared to Fall 2019.

• President McConnell welcomed several “dynamic, visionary leaders,” including Kauline Cipriani, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, and Dr. Lindsey Shirley, Associate Vice President for Engagement and Deputy Director of Extension.

Other meeting items related to Fort Collins

• Student success efforts for the 2021-22 academic year will focus on five key initiative areas: student support, curricular support and reform, creating a dashboard to identify gaps in equity, advising and strengthening the student experience and campus culture of support. Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen explained the university’s short-term strategy that focuses on first-year and first-time students with a goal of increasing student retention by at least 1% per year.

• The Board authorized the standard 3% salary increase for President McConnell and per the terms of the president’s contract, she will also receive a performance bonus of $50,000 tied to performance during an extremely challenging time. (President McConnell received no raise or bonus in the last fiscal year.) This brings President McConnell’s compensation to $566,500. The peer average for presidents of comparably sized institutions is $743,000, so President McConnell’s compensation is now 76% of the peer average.

• The Board also authorized the standard 3% salary increase for CSU Pueblo President Tim Mottet and CSU Global President Pamela Toney, along with performance bonuses of $30,000 each. Chancellor Tony Frank will receive $200,000 in performance bonus monies this year as well.

• Several people spoke during public comment on behalf of an effort dubbed “Hughes Land Back” encouraging the transfer of stewardship of the former Hughes Stadium land to native peoples.

The CSU System shared the following statement:
“We hear and appreciate the comments related to the stewardship of the land. Indigenous peoples once inhabited the entire country, and the CSU Land Acknowledgement speaks to the importance of recognizing the history of the land the university is built upon.

After nearly a century of settlement and owners, the federal government sold CSU the Hughes property in the 1950s after the land served as an equipment staging area and gravel pit during the construction of the dams that created Horsetooth Reservoir. Discussion around land stewardship is important across the United States; yet, singling out Hughes as unique because of CSU’s Land Grant history is not an accurate representation of this parcel’s history. Further, the lands entrusted to the Board under its legal authority are held and managed in accordance with the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the System and its institutions and for the benefit of the citizens of the State of Colorado and disposing of such an asset without economic benefit is inconsistent with the Board’s duties.

True to our university history, we look forward to continuing the conversation thoughtfully, and to continue to listen, learn, and adapt.”

• Student Representative Christian Dykson outlined a vision for this year’s student government administration centered around three core values of radical inclusion, transparency and stewardship.

• Faculty Representative Professor Melinda Smith discussed the letter of concern brought forward by faculty asking for more stringent COVID-related mask and vaccine requirements. Smith also reported that Faculty Council is drafting a formal endorsement of graduate student efforts to secure increases to the stipends that graduate workers are paid. Following the presentation, President McConnell said she is grateful for Smith’s leadership on the issue of graduate stipends.

“I want to thank Dr. Smith for helping us make decisions about increasing the graduate student stipend this year by 3% and making plans to be able to do that again,” McConnell said.

• Along with numerous accomplishments in their sports, student athletes at CSU achieved the highest term GPA on record (3.312) during the Fall 2020 semester and the highest ever cumulative GPA during the Spring 2021 semester. In the annual athletics report to the Board, Director of Athletics Joe Parker said that seven of CSU’s programs turned in perfect 1,000 Academic Progress Rate scores for the academic year, the most among all institutions in the Mountain West Conference. APR measures retention and eligibility rates for scholarship student athletes.

Information about all meetings of the CSU Board of Governors is on the CSU System website. Final meeting materials are typically posted within a week of each meeting.