President's Campus Communication 5/20/10

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for another year of hard work. We accomplished a number of things this year that suggest the optimism with which we began fall semester was indeed warranted. We increased our enrollment, launched our Bringing Education to Life branding campaign, made a significant commitment to better connect our fundraising and alumni operations to the University, and made marked progress toward developing a University plan, just to mention a few.

We began the fall semester knowing exactly what we must do to move forward. As I discussed planning with various campus groups in October and November, I found consistent agreement that we should focus our energy on three areas of action: (1) serving students and building exemplary academic programs to fulfill our mission in sustainable ways, (2) enhancing our research focus to engage students and faculty and the public we serve, and (3) creating a respectful and inclusive campus community that connects with the area around UNC and the global community.

In April, I began a second round of meetings to share what I learned in those fall “strategy sessions” and talk about a framework for organizing our various planning efforts. In short, I learned that we had many talented people doing work we need to build on, and we need to be clearer about institutional priorities. I also learned that we as an institution must act more like we prepare our students to act—developing the critical thinking, problem solving, communication and leadership abilities necessary to thrive amid change. I made the last stop on this second round of campus meetings yesterday, so I will share a planning progress report with you later this month.

While focusing on these long-term priorities, we’ve also been working on the FY11 budget. We are budgeting for a $3.5 million reduction in UNC’s state funding for FY11 and continue to expect further reductions in FY12, when Colorado will face a significant budget shortfall, federal stimulus funding will be gone and the state will no longer be required to hold higher education funding at the FY06 level to qualify for stimulus funds. As you know, we are working to address these reductions by identifying cost savings, reallocating funds and generating new revenue.

We will be discussing a number of FY11 budget items with the Board of Trustees tomorrow in preparation for the Board’s approval of a final budget at its June meeting. The proposed budget includes additional investments in undergraduate scholarships and graduate tuition waivers, a new revenue and incentive model for Extended Studies, the first set of changes recommended by the group that has been working to untangle how we use internal charging (addressing charges for police, information technology and phones), tuition increases of 9 percent for undergraduates and 15 percent for graduate students, and increases in several student fees. Trustees approved tuition and fee rates earlier this month to allow us to communicate these to students before the end of the semester.

We will continue working on our multi-year financial plan over the summer. This effort is even more relevant given the recent passage of Senate Bill 3, the Higher Education Flexibility Bill. For five years, beginning in FY12, the bill allows the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) to authorize institutions to increase resident undergraduate tuition more than 9 percent if they submit a five-year financial and accountability plan. The details and timing of the process to implement Senate Bill 3 are still being developed, but we will be working hard to coordinate these with our own financial planning process.