On Thursday, June 17, the University of Colorado Board of Regents approved CU Denver’s budget for fiscal year 2021-22. The $361.8 million budget is nearly restored to fiscal year 2019-2020 budget levels thanks to the proactive decisions made by leadership to offset an extremely challenging financial year due to the global pandemic.
The board also provided an update on the CU System presidential search and heard a presentation from Chancellor Michelle Marks on CU Denver’s 2030 Strategic Plan, to be implemented this fall. In addition, the board approved a resolution to roll student fees into tuition starting in the 2022-23 academic year and to allow CU Denver more flexibility to start exploring funding methods for a new engineering building.
Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget
Thanks to the smart and proactive budget management measures CU Denver implemented in fiscal year 2020-21, CARES Act funding, and better-than-anticipated graduate enrollment, the university was able to outperform budget expectations and lift furloughs earlier than expected on March 1, 2021.
Along with the lift of furloughs, the fiscal year 2021-22 budget allows for the restoration of temporary operating reductions, the replenishment of the Emergency Tuition Stabilization Plan Reserves, and targeted investments to address the Equal Pay Act and Denver minimum wage increase.
Of the $361.8 million budget, $222.1 million, or 61.4%, accounts for the Education and General Fund budget. Resident tuition is the largest component of the Education and General Fund budget at $110.2 million (49.6 %) followed by non-resident tuition at $44.3 million (19.9%). State funding is $43.2 million (19.5%) and is comprised of $20 million in College Opportunity Fund (COF) stipends and $23.2 million from fee-for-service (FFS) revenue.
While there is much to be happy about, including the early ending of furloughs and being able to provide faculty and staff with one-time compensation increases on July 30 paychecks, there is still work to be done to ensure financial sustainability and achievement of the goals outlined in the 2030 strategic plan, said Todd Haggerty, vice chancellor of finance and business operations and CFO. “The resilience of our students, faculty and staff over the past year is a clear demonstration that we are up for the challenge,” he added.
In early June, the board named Todd Saliman CU’s interim president on a unanimous vote, effective July 1. Saliman is the current senior vice president for strategy, government relations and chief financial officer in system administration, which he joined in 2011.
The board is committed to finding an “outstanding president to lead CU into the future,” said CU Board of Regents Chair Glen Gallegos. A national search firm will be hired through CU’s standard request for proposal (RFP) process.
The University of Colorado Staff Council is preparing to partner with campus councils to nominate university staff and classified staff representatives for consideration by the board to serve on a presidential search committee. The CU System will soon publish a website to provide search updates and give constituents an opportunity to share feedback with the board about the process and candidates.
The board approved a resolution to allow CU Denver to explore rolling mandatory student fees into tuition starting in the fall 2022 academic year. The shift will enhance transparency in cost and student billing, promote simplicity and equity in charges for services available to all students, reduce administrative burden, and provide flexibility in budgeting and organizational structures. The shift also recognizes that services currently supported by mandatory fees are part of the overall student experience and shouldn’t be viewed as an additive fee. The resolution will not impact the cost of tuition or fees for students.
“That’s truth in advertising,” said CU Regent Nolbert Chavez. “Every parent should have an idea of what they are really going to pay.”
In the same resolution, the board approved to add language to previous board-approved program plans that will allow CU Denver to start exploring additional opportunities—such as gift funds, institutional cash contributions, or public-private partnerships—to fund a new engineering building on campus.
2030 Strategic Plan
Chancellor Marks led a presentation to the board on the 2030 strategic plan, “CU Denver 2030: Making Higher Education Work for All,” a profound repositioning of CU Denver to be a public urban research university that works for all: learners of all kinds and at all stages of life, industries and employers that need talent ready to hit the ground running, and communities requiring new solutions and discoveries. The presentation garnered positive and enthusiastic responses from the regents, who commended Marks for hitting the ground running in her first year as chancellor and spearheading a robust, community-based strategic process during a pandemic.