CSU board names Tony Frank to Presidency

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

On May 26 — nearly six months after the sudden resignation of Colorado State University President Larry Penley — the system’s Board of Governors announced that they are replacing him with Tony Frank, former CSU provost and acting president since Penley’s resignation.

At the Tuesday meeting, the board also discussed their decision three weeks ago to name Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Joe Blake as the sole finalist for position of CSU chancellor, a newly created position.

The confirmation of both Frank and Blake is expected next month.

Tony Frank

“Tony stepped into the position as interim president six months ago and hasn’t missed a single beat,” said Douglas Jones, chair of the CSU System Board of Governors. “He has proven himself as a strong leader who approaches everything he does with integrity and thoughtfulness.”

Frank has long been a fixture at CSU in Fort Collins. After serving as a professor of science, Frank was promoted to the administrative ranks, where he served as a senior vice president before becoming provost. He has served as interim president since November.

Unlike the board’s announcement that Blake would be the first chancellor of the CSU system, which was met with some trepidation, the reaction to Frank’s nomination as the sole finalist for the
president’s position was met with overwhelming support from faculty, state lawmakers and Gov. Bill Ritter.

John Straayer, a long-time political science professor at CSU and a regular face at the Colorado Capitol, said he was thrilled to see Frank get the nod. Straayer, who has run a Capitol intern program for more than two decades at the Legislature, has said he doesn’t believe the creation of the chancellor position was wise at a time when the university is experiencing large budget cuts from the state and in the face of soaring tuition rates for students.

“I’m a big fan of Tony, and delighted that they selected him,” Straayer told The Colorado Statesman. “Besides having 16 years experience here, loving the place and being held in high esteem all across campus, he is open, honest, personally engaging and has a steady hand and the very best in academic values. A university is about the life of the mind, and no one understands that more clearly than Tony.”

Straayer, who had harsh criticism for the Board of Governors during the chancellor selection process, said he believed the board acted with integrity during the president search, although they stayed within the system and didn’t seek national candidates.

“This was one of those situations when embarking on a broad national search would have made no sense,” Straayer continued. “Had the board done so, they would either have found an inferior candidate or ended up with Tony and created suspicion that it was a cooked deal from the outset. On this pick and on the process, the board deserves high praise.”

State lawmakers who represent the Fort Collins area also offered high praise for the selection of Frank.

Democratic Rep. Randy Fischer, of Fort Collins, said he was happy to see Frank named the sole finalist for the position adding that he believes Frank brings the right mixture of academic and administrative leadership to the post.

“I think the community really likes Dr. Frank,” Fischer told The Colorado Statesman. “He has risen through the academic ranks over the years and has made Fort Collins his home. I think the board picked the right person to lead Fort Collins and CSU forward.”

Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, agreed.

“CSU is such an important fixture in Fort Collins, and I was very pleased to hear the board
chose Tony Frank to lead it in coming years,” Kefalas said. “I think he is exactly the kind of person that can help the university, both academically and in an administrative position, as the system continues to struggle with budget cuts and other challenges that are facing the state’s higher education system.”

Ritter, who fully supported the selection of Blake as chancellor, said in a prepared statement that he was pleased to see Frank assume the role of president.

“During a year of transition at CSU, Tony has provided strong and steady leadership and has been a great partner with my administration,” Ritter wrote. “Throughout his career, Tony has distinguished himself as a dedicated academic and a principled leader. As a proud CSU alumnus, I know Tony has earned the respect of the university community as he rose through the faculty ranks for his numerous scholarly achievements and professional accomplishments.”

Both Frank and Blake will attend a series of community meetings today with university faculty, students and business leaders in Fort Collins, including a private meeting with Mayor Doug Hutchinson, Maury Dobbie, president and CEO of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation, and David May, president and CEO of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce.

Jason@coloradostatesman.com