By William J. Dagendesh
Russ Meyer, who is the provost for CSU-Pueblo, will retire at the end of this semester after more than four decades as an educator.
Meyer started work here in March 2000 when the institution was called the University of Southern Colorado.
The provost had never heard of USC when a friend asked him to apply for the position of the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, he said. Meyer was reluctant to apply for the position because his family didn’t want to leave Emporia, Kan. where Meyer served as professor of English with Emporia State University.
Meyer discovered USC was unlike any university he had experienced, he said. USC had a poor marketing and recruiting program, he said, and enrollment and morale was at an all-time low. Because of this, people knew little about the campus and what it had to offer, he said.
“USC was so unpopular that people referred to it as the University of Second Choice,” Meyer said.
The provost credits CSU-Pueblo’s former president Joe Garcia for much of the university’s growth. Under Garcia’s leadership, CSU-Pueblo became Colorado’s fastest-growing university, Meyer said. Out-of-state transfer students are attracted to CSU-Pueblo’s affordable, quality education, he said, and enrollment numbers continue to grow.
CSU-Pueblo expects enrollment to reach 6,000 students by 2012, Meyer said.
+“Because of Joe, the university has seen great direction in enrollment gains” Meyer said. “The quality of the institution has improved both in students and faculty.”
Garcia resigned last November after being elected to serve as Colorado’s lieutenant governor.
Despite Garcia’s contributions, the future of the university depends on what happens to funding in the state, Meyer said. Many things need to be done throughout Colorado, he said, but that there isn’t much money with which to do it.
“We got a lot of colleges and universities in the state, and people believe some of them should be closed to save money,” Meyer said. “If we do that, we will deny access to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. We would lose revenue from students who go to these schools because most of them won’t be able to go anywhere else.
“This university, Adams State and all the community colleges have an access mission,” Meyer said, “and bringing education to the people is what we’re about.”
After having worked in education nearly half a century, Meyer wants to explore other employment possibilities, he said. He considered opening his own woodworking business, he said, but believes building for profit would cheapen the pleasure he gets from creating for fun.
Meyer took up woodworking more than 30 years ago as a way to save money and relieve stress, he said.
Also, Meyer is not above greeting customers at the entrance of a department store, he said, nor is he opposed to getting his hands dirty. For now, Meyer wants to leave the doors of opportunity open, he said.