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Dear Alumni and Friends,
President Bruce D. Benson
It is a great privilege for me to serve as president of the University of Colorado. Since assuming the job some five months ago, I have developed an even deeper appreciation for a university I already held in high esteem. Serving as president of my alma mater has provided me a broad perspective of CU, its activities, people and impact. What I see is a university that makes a tremendous difference in individuals' lives, in the economy, and in the quality of life of our state, nation and the world.
I also see a university with significant momentum in a variety of areas. We've received record research awards, had our best fundraising year, and created new and exciting partnerships to bolster our focuses in biosciences, aerospace engineering, health care and renewable energy, areas critical to our state and nation.
I intend for this newsletter to be a forum where I can share with you some of the interesting and important things happening at CU. Two of my primary goals as president are to promote the value and benefits of higher education and to increase revenue streams to the university. To help achieve those, we must tell our stories to key people in Colorado and beyond. I hope you will be an advocate for CU by passing along information to people who may have an interest. I welcome your feedback and ideas.
You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce D. Benson
CU Earns Record National Research Award
CU received the largest federal research grant in Colorado history when the National Institutes of Health in May provided $76 million for our effort to speed biomedical discoveries from laboratories to the lives of citizens. The five-year grant will allow us to lead development of an unprecedented statewide network of research, health care and community facilities. These groups, working together as the new Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute – or CCTSI – will turn biomedical findings into improved patient and community health.
Building on Our NASA Partnership
CU added to its position as first in the nation among public universities in NASA funding. The agency awarded CU a five-year, $32 million grant in May to develop and manage a sophisticated database that tracks global weather patterns in areas such as glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and ice sheets. NASA also contracted with the university in May to build a $34 million solar instrument package for a satellite that will monitor global climate change. Colorado recently surpassed Texas to place second in the nation in space economy (behind only California), due in part to CU's focus on aerospace engineering.
Boosting Biomedical Research
CU joined The Boettcher Foundation and the Webb-Waring Institute in a partnership that created a $40 million grant program to benefit Colorado biomedical researchers. The agreement also cleared the way for the university to fully vacate our former health sciences campus at Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Webb-Waring, which has been affiliated with CU since 1952, will continue its work at facilities at our Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. The Boettcher Foundation, which has deep Colorado roots, will administer Webb-Waring Medical Grants, expected to start at $2 million annually. CU researchers are in a prime position to apply the grants. Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has pledged he will help leverage the grants by exploring connections with the Colorado Biosciences Fund, created by the state Legislature this year to bolster Colorado's growing biosciences industry, of which CU is a significant part.
Another Fundraising Record
CU's set another fundraising record this year by bringing in $162.5 million, eclipsing last year's $133.5 million, the previous record. Some notable gifts recently have helped drive that success, including $15 million from The Anschutz Foundation for a Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus; $11 million from the ALSAM Foundation to build a new School of Pharmacy building; and $5 million from George Wiegers to establish the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine Depression Center.
We appreciate the support of our major donors, but equally impressive are the contributions of our alumni and friends. This year, more than 52,000 donors contributed to the university. More than 30 percent were alumni.
The records can be attributed in part to a renewed confidence in the both university and the CU Foundation. Former President Hank Brown helped to restore public trust in CU, and Wayne Hutchens brought first-rate management to the foundation, which decreased its cost to raise a dollar from 35 cents in 2005 to 17 cents today.
CU's $5 Billion Economic Impact
CU's recently released Economic Impact Study reflects a university system that is a major part of the Colorado economy. CU contributed nearly $5 billion to Colorado's economy last year. We are the state's fourth-largest employer and its major producer of an educated work force. Among Colorado's four-year public colleges and universities, CU produces nearly half of all degrees. For every dollar in general fund money the state provides, CU returns $26.50 to the Colorado economy. Some 44 startup companies have resulted from CU intellectual property over the past five years.
CU Around Colorado
With all this good news to share, we have been traveling the state this spring and summer to meet with alumni, legislators, community leaders, students and parents. Our goals are to share the good news about CU, to promote the value and importance of higher education, and to learn from communities what the university can do for them. We are building a Web site that details how people around the state can connect with CU expertise and also lists efforts currently underway.
We have programs in nearly every corner of the state, from School of Medicine outreach to traveling journalism programs to dance workshops. The tour has already made 14 stops, from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, from Pueblo to Fort Collins. We have another six or so scheduled, and we hope you will be able to join us at any of our events.
For a complete schedule, visit https://www.cu.edu/content/community-outreach-tour
Other News From CU's Campuses
Our first Nobel laureate, Professor Tom Cech, is resigning as president of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute to return to his teaching and research at the Boulder campus next spring. Bringing one of the world's top scientific minds back to CU will enhance our already strong efforts in biosciences/biotechnology. We are looking to Dr. Cech's leadership to help make CU one of the nation's leaders in biosciences.
CU's focus on renewable energy received a boost this spring when ConocoPhillips bought the former StorageTek campus on 432 acres in Louisville. The move will allow us to collaborate with them on renewable and sustainable energy initiatives, a focus both for them and for our Boulder campus. ConocoPhillips already joined us in a $5 million sponsored research agreement to develop new ways to convert biomass to low-carbon transportation fuels. The work will be done by the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, a research center of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaborative, a partnership among CU, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
CU Colorado Springs
At UCCS, redevelopment is proceeding along Nevada Street at the western edge of our campus, which will make it the gateway to Colorado Springs. The news this spring that the Olympic Training Center will remain in Colorado Springs creates opportunities for the campus. Colorado Springs will be branded "Home of the Olympics," and UCCS is exploring partnerships with various Olympic sport governing bodies (such as volleyball, archery, wrestling, etc.).
The downtown Denver campus acquired some much-needed space with the purchase of the building at 1475 Lawrence St. It will likely be the new home of our Business School. The CU Foundation played an important role in extending CU's reach into downtown. The campus will also benefit from the $63 million state appropriation for the construction of the Science Building at Auraria (total cost is $121 million), which will provide new classroom and research space for CU students, who use about 40 percent of the building.
Anschutz Medical Campus
We have been working closely with the Veterans Administration, particularly with Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake, on a proposal to build a new hospital tower at the University of Colorado Hospital to serve veterans. Secretary Peake has said he believes partnering with CU would provide veterans the best care and be the most cost-effective solution, but some members of Colorado's Congressional delegation want to explore the possibility of a stand-alone hospital (at the Anschutz Medical Campus), which was proposed in 2004.
Regardless of the outcome, we are transforming the Anschutz Medical Campus into a health-care destination, where people from all over the world will come for the latest in treatment and care. We continue to grow our mutually beneficial relationship with the City of Aurora to make the $2 billion investment a crown jewel for the university, city and state.
Our incoming freshman classes for fall 2008 across CU's campuses will be the largest, most diverse and best academically in university history. The fact that we have so many talented students who want to attend CU is testament to our strong academic programs and reputation.
A dozen programs across our campuses in the fields of physics, medicine, nursing, law and chemistry are among the top 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2009 edition of graduate school rankings. The rankings are a measure of the quality of our faculty's academic and research work and strong leadership from Chancellors Wilson, Shockley and Peterson.
We visited Washington, D.C., in April to meet with each member of our congressional delegation about a variety of issues, including various CU projects that have federal funding components. We also visited the White House to advocate for CU issues. We have plans to step up our presence in our nation's capital. Many of our university initiatives, both large and small, are either funded by federal agencies or affected by what happens in Washington, so it is imperative that we grow our presence in the capital.
2008 Legislative Session
CU had a strong overall showing at the 2008 session of the Colorado General Assembly. We received a significant increase in capital funding for our buildings and a more modest increase in our operating funds. The total for capital funding was $133 million, of which $5.2 million is for controlled maintenance. It will allow CU to undertake projects such as building a new Science/Engineering Building ($7 million) at UCCS and renovating an old science building ($17.1 million); building a new Visual Arts Complex ($7.1 million) at CU-Boulder and renovating Ketchum ($8.4 million) and Ekeley ($11.6 million); and building a new science building at the Auraria Higher Education Center ($63.6 million) of which CU uses about 40 percent.
In operating funds, CU received an additional $14.1 million in its Fee-for-Service appropriation (which funds graduate and professional programs) and the College Opportunity Fund stipend for students increased by $90 to $2,760 per student, which will mean an additional $3.5 million for CU.
The Colorado Legislature capped tuition increases at 9.5 percent this year, and in April the CU Board of Regents approved increases for resident undergraduates of 9.3 percent at the Boulder campus, 8.5 percent at the downtown Denver campus and 7.5 percent at the Colorado Springs campus. One of the reasons we had to proceed with the increase is that the state mandated costs that the university has no choice but to meet. They include classified salary increases (which we also provide for faculty and exempt staff in the interests of fairness), increases in the insurance contribution and more funding directed to financial aid.
While I understand increased costs are difficult, it is imperative we maintain and build on the quality of our educational offerings. Colorado is 48th in the nation in the amount of per-student funding the state provides. In Fiscal Year 2002, CU's state appropriation was $217 million. It dropped to $155 million in FY 2004. It has recovered to $209 million in FY 2009, but our enrollment is up 20 percent since FY 2002, and inflation was not taken into account. At the same time, CU's tuition is still below the national average of its peers (88 percent of peer average at UCD, 89 percent at UCB, and 97 percent at UCCS) in tuition costs. CU also ranks well below universities nationally in overhead. Our administrative costs are 46 percent of the national average, according to standardized federal data.
2008 Ballot Initiatives
There will likely be two items on the November ballot in Colorado that have implications for CU. Gov. Bill Ritter is promoting the Colorado Promise Scholarship, which would use severance taxes on oil and gas production to fund more than $120 million in scholarships for needy Colorado students. I personally support the governor's proposal, and have suggested that any new scholarship programs give strong consideration to middle-income families, as well as reserve a portion of funds for merit-based aid. Specifics of the proposal are under development and signatures are being gathered to place it on the November ballot. The Board of Regents has not taken a formal position on the issue.
The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative already has enough signatures to be on the ballot (although they are being challenged). Amendment 46 would prohibit discrimination against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, color or national origin. Diversity is a fundamental value at CU and is articulated in Regent policy and campus mission statements. We believe that having a variety of perspectives involved in the learning process enhances the educational experience.
Should the initiative pass, we will be prepared to comply with the law, as we do now. There are two general areas where it could affect our diversity efforts: admissions and scholarships. Our initial assessment (detailed under the "News" section at www.cu.edu) is that Amendment 46 would not affect student outreach or support programs, but we would need to modify some admissions processes and scholarships. The Board of Regents has not taken a formal position on the issue, as well.
CU continues to do well with our enrollment, private fundraising and sponsored research, but we face significant challenges in ensuring we have adequate levels of state support. I will keep you updated on our progress. Thank you for your support of CU.