State Funding Scenarios Discussed at Board of Regents Meeting

February 14, 2024

The University of Colorado Board of Regents held its February board meeting at CU Boulder, which included a preliminary 2024–25 budget proposal, shared governance reports, and approval of new academic programs.

Budget proposal dependent on state funding, enrollment

CU Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano presented the preliminary 2024–25 budget proposal, which takes into account three scenarios for increasing undergraduate resident tuition. The tuition scenarios for each CU campus are directly tied to state funding scenarios. The state legislature determines the amount of funding provided for higher education each spring, generally finalizing the budget in April before the governor signs it into law.

Marturano said all the potential tuition increases across the System are lower than inflation in Colorado, which was close to 5% in 2023. The proposed tuition increases for CU Denver ranged from 2% to 4%, dependent on the state budget.

Marturano also shared that Colorado college students receive only 40% of the state support that students received 20 years ago, which has been the primary driver of tuition increases across the state. CU President Todd Saliman reiterated the direct connection between state funding and tuition, which is something he and CU shared governance leaders talked about with legislators on the Joint Budget Committee at CU’s January hearing.

Regarding campus-specific budget proposals, CU Denver is budgeting conservatively with a forecasted 3.9% decline in enrollment, a 2% employee compensation merit pool contingent on enrollment, and increased investment in financial aid to maintain affordability for students. CU Denver faculty and staff are actively working on many initiatives to improve the enrollment outlook in fall 2024 and long term. Applications are up thanks to an aggressive recruitment push, and other recent efforts include a graduate program recruitment and yield workshop and the bolstering of staffing and operations in Enrollment Management and Financial Aid.

Marturano credited CU Denver for balancing its budget through its strategic realignment work in the face of enrollment challenges and costs not incurred by other CU campuses, such as the higher minimum wage in Denver and costs associated with the Auraria Higher Education Center.

The regents will make decisions on the budget at the April board meeting, once more is known about state funding.

Spotlight on the College of Arts & Media

In the CU Denver campus report, Chancellor Michelle Marks shared exciting news from the College of Arts & Media (CAM), which recently celebrated two Grammy nominations, resulting in one Grammy win on Feb. 4. Composer Jessie Montgomery won the award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for a track on the album Stillpoint, which was produced by CAM Associate Dean Mark Rabideau.

Marks also highlighted a new documentary on jazz musician Eddie Henderson that was created by CAM Professor Michelle Carpenter. Finally, Marks shared the forthcoming hiring of new CAM Dean Lucinda Bliss, effective July 2024, and thanked Co-interim Deans Joann Brennan and Nate Thompson for their ongoing leadership.

Shared governance reports

CU Faculty Council Chair Alastair Norcross shared that the council will soon meet in Denver for its first in-person retreat in at least five years, with a focus on climate change and sustainability. Norcross said the council is also working to address faculty equity issues on CU campuses, especially for adjunct faculty, and that faculty are closely following proposed gun legislation at the state legislature this session.

Alan Slinkard, co-chair of the University of Colorado Staff Council, expressed a desire for the group to work more collaboratively with the regents, while the report on student governments included updates on CU Denver’s Reflection Space, SGA’s participation in a Day at the Capitol later in February, and adding a Zoom option for public meetings to increase student access to SGA.

New programs coming to CU Denver

The regents approved three new academic programs for CU Denver: an MS in Clinical Psychopharmacology, a certificate for Prescribing Fellowship Clinical Psychopharmacology, and a BA/BS in Climate Change Studies—one board meeting after CU Denver gained approval for an MS in Sustainable Business last November.