President's Campus Communication 2/19/09

Dear UNC Colleagues,

With all the news about the $787 billion economic stimulus package President Obama signed this week in Denver, you may be wondering what that means for UNC. We’re hearing lots of numbers tossed around, but it will be weeks, if not months, before we can answer that question with much confidence.

It appears that Colorado is eligible to receive $611.5 million from the package’s $53.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which is intended to partially backfill state funding cuts to education and other critical services. At least $500 million of Colorado’s share of the stabilization fund is to be spent on elementary, secondary and higher education, with K-12 being the priority.

While this is encouraging news, it doesn’t diminish the urgency of our need to address cuts to UNC’s FY09 and FY10 state funding. Because of the timing, uncertainty and one-time nature of the stimulus funds, we can assume nothing.

The instructions for recommending FY10 budget strategies were disseminated to budget managers yesterday, and I look forward to seeing your ideas about revenue generation, cost savings and strategic investments. The budget process will continue to focus on maximizing revenues and managing expenditures so we can invest in the things most important to us. The budget instructions are based on assumptions in the Governor’s proposals for state budget reductions, which would reduce UNC’s state general funds by a total of $2.9 million over FY09 and FY10 combined and reduce our state-funded financial aid by an estimated $590,000 in FY10. (But remember state funding is only 25 percent of our total revenue, about $44 million of our $177 million operating budget.)

Our discussions with state policy makers about tuition and fee flexibility continue to be productive. The Colorado Commission on Higher Education passed a resolution supporting the concept, and the Joint Budget Committee has expressed some support. However, even if lawmakers agree to the flexibility we have proposed, we cannot expect to backfill state funding cuts simply by increasing tuition. Our arguments for tuition flexibility emphasize that we will continue to be accessible to all students who meet our academic standards, and that we are willing to be held accountable for this.

It is vitally important that we continue to tell people about the great things happening at the University of Northern Colorado, so they understand the importance of state support to helping UNC make a difference in the lives of our students and the citizens of Colorado.


Kay Norton