Normally, when Tom Milligan, vice president of external relations at Colorado State University, joins other school officials on their annual trip around the state each summer, it amounts to a goodwill tour — a chance to reach out and connect with alums, donors, government officials and, of course, potential students.

But the message Milligan is preaching this year is different. With the nation marking the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act — a measure signed by President Lincoln in 1862 that created the path for a public land-grant university in each state — CSU officials believe it’s an appropriate time to take note of declining public support for higher education in states around the country and consider the implications of that trend.

“It’s time for the country to have a discussion about that,” Milligan said on Thursday while visiting Montrose to make an appearance at the Colorado Wool Growers Association Convention at the Montrose Pavilion. “Do we want to privatize that system?”

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