Buried among other back-to-school headlines last week was an interesting story from our friends at the Pueblo Chieftain about enrollment tumbling at Colorado State University’s Pueblo campus.
While the campus seemed to be growing its headcount enrollment under the leadership of former President (and now Colorado Lt. Governor) Joe Garcia, the new President, Lesley DiMare has a bit of a mess on her hands.
According to news reports, a recent audit of CSU-Pueblo’s finances found that, during Garcia’s tenure as President, the institution failed to enforce its own policies with respect to disenrolling students that didn’t pay their tuition bill each year. It seems that under the leadership of Mr. Garcia, the institution was more interested in keeping their enrollment numbers up than making them pay their way.
And we’re not talking about a few struggling students here – we’re talking about hundreds of students and millions in unpaid tuition.
To President DiMare’s credit, when she found out about the mismanagement that occurred on Joe Garcia’s watch, she moved swiftly to correct it. Unfortunately, that means enrollment at her institution is now down nearly 10% from last year.
What’s most troubling about this story is that Joe Garcia was tapped as Governor John Hickenlooper’s running mate in 2010 in large part because of his expertise in higher education. Once elected, Governor Hickenlooper even named Garcia the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education in concert with his role as Lt. Governor. From his current perch, Garcia is leading a master planning process for all of higher education in Colorado – which makes us a bit nervous.
Unfortunately for tax-paying voters in Colorado, there was no real vetting of the candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in 2010. The Republican Party’s implosion two years ago and the side show that came along with it provided the perfect “shiny object” for the media and others to focus on instead of digging in to the backgrounds of Hickenlooper and Garcia.
Even though Mr. Garcia just returned from an out of state junket, we hope the mainstream media can find time this week to track him down and ask some tough questions about this mismanagement that occurred on his watch.