Todd Haggerty, Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer, on CU Denver’s Budget, Priorities, and Life Off Campus

October 7, 2021

Most people know Todd Haggerty as CU Denver’s chief financial officer. But, aside from budgets and financial forecast planning, he’s a CU Denver alum, father of triplets, soccer aficionado, and avid supporter of all-things higher education. He also carries three sharpened pencils with him at all times (a habit he picked up as a child) and collects vinyl records.

To learn more about Haggerty’s life on and off campus, as well as his involvement in the implementation of CU Denver’s visionary 2030 Strategic Plan, CU Denver News sat down with him for a Q&A.  

We all know Todd Haggerty the CFO, but who is Todd Haggerty the person? 

I’m originally from Utah. I used to come to Colorado for summer camp and I loved it. I moved out here to go to Metropolitan State College (now called MSU Denver), where I got my undergraduate degree in history and political science. I worked my way through college: I bartended in the city, worked at a coffee shop called Daily Ground (at what’s now the Tivoli Brewing Company), and did a work-study at PBS Channel 12, which largely consisted of polling the next day’s episode of “Sit and Be Fit”—a senior fitness TV series that helped older folks stay fit, while sitting.

While I was getting my undergraduate degree, I became involved in a lot of campus political groups, so I continued my education at CU Denver and got my master’s in public administration from the School of Public Affairs. I pretty much lived on the fifth floor of the Lawrence Street Center during that time. Earning that degree was the best thing I ever did. It opened all the doors to my career. 

Around that time, I took a job as senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, which was a lot of work around budget and tax policy. I traveled all around the country and testified before 36 state Legislatures. I also got married, and while I was on a work trip in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I found out my wife and I were having triplets—two boys and a girl. They are now 10 years old. 

When our family grew, I knew I couldn’t travel as much. My work at the time was very theoretical—a lot of finance and budget models, but not much implementation. So, I switched gears and joined the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) as the chief financial officer. That’s where I started working with Jennifer Sobanet, who was the CDHE chief operating officer at the time and is now CU Denver’s executive vice chancellor of administration and strategy. I knew I wanted to go back to an institution and be in Denver. I knew I wanted to help open doors for so many others.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

I love soccer. I play on an over-30 co-ed league. We have a lot of pets: a French Bulldog named Zizou (named after French former soccer pro Zinedine Zidane), an English Bulldog puppy named Shorty, chickens (little Jerry Seinfeld is my favorite), and fish. And, I love collecting vinyl records. 

What about being at CU Denver and our new Strategic Plan most excites you?

Why I come to this job every day is because CU Denver and higher education serve such a vital role for transforming peoples’ lives. Having spent so much time here, I want to see where the university can go next. 

What most excites me about our Strategic Plan is having a clear vision. From a financial perspective, our plan helps guide where we need to start directing our resources. From a personal perspective, it starts with being an equity-serving institution and doing everything we can to ensure an inclusive and just environment for our entire campus community. And, it’s the focus on the people we work with. I’ve seen how much our faculty and staff care about this place. If this is a great place to work, it’s going to be a great place to be a student. 

Goal 5 of our Strategic Plan is for CU Denver to be known as a people-centered best place to work. Can you provide some examples of what CU Denver is doing to recognize and support the incredible contributions of our people?

Every time we want to make an investment in our people, we have to ask ourselves the question: How do we balance student affordability with making this a great place to work? It’s a motivating factor and it challenges us to really think about what we can do to recruit and retain faculty and staff. A few concrete examples come to mind: 

  • CU 401(a) Mandatory Retirement Plan: All eligible university staff and faculty contribute 5% of their annual eligible compensation, and CU contributes the equivalent of 10% of the employee’s annual eligible compensation—that’s a match of 200%.
  • Health benefits: Employees have access to quality, personalized medical care with CU’s medical plans. CU contributes 85% to 90% of premiums, making medical care affordable for our employees, and their dependents.
  • Tuition assistance benefit: Qualified employees can save on up to nine credits per academic year (fall through summer) on any CU campus, and their children, spouses, and other dependents have several options to save on tuition costs. 
  • RTD EcoPass: All employees enrolled in RTD’s EcoPass program can enjoy unlimited rides on RTD buses and trains, whether it’s for work or personal use, for $135 a year, which is significantly less than the normal rate of $114 per month. In case you missed it, CU Denver is covering the cost of the RTD EcoPass for faculty and staff through Dec. 31, 2021. If you opt in, you must get a new card at the AHEC Parking and Transportation Services Office (777 Lawrence Way, in the 7th Street Garage). 

Goal 5 prompts us to evaluate critical areas for our employees, such as mental health and wellness and human resources support. That’s one of the many reasons why having a Strategic Plan is so important. 

Our goals are ambitious. Where do we stand financially and how can we ensure we have the resources necessary to carry out our vision of making education work for all?

We are still dealing with lingering impacts of COVID-19, but we are much better off than we were in April of 2020 due to the employee furloughs and other sacrifices we made to continue providing classes and services. Tuition revenue is tracking in line with projections and expenditures have remained within budget. On the plus side, this means we are not looking at current fiscal year budget reductions, but it also means we must continue to exercise financial discipline while evaluating our standing with enrollment, state funding, and a host of other factors. 

Where does that leave room for investment? It means we must put all of our resources and actions into a structure that aligns with the Strategic Plan. We need to rethink and reallocate what we are doing to make sure we are maximizing not only our ROI (return on investment) but also the success of our students, faculty, and staff. If our students succeed, our finances succeed. And if our faculty and staff are succeeding, our students will succeed.