In This Issue...
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Colorado is by no means immune to the economic downturn plaguing the country, and the University of Colorado is feeling the effects as well. In late January, Gov. Bill Ritter recommended cuts to the state budget, including the appropriation for all the state's public colleges and universities. We must cut $8 million from our fiscal year 2008-09 (current year) budget and another $6 million from FY 09-10. Those numbers are subject to change in the legislative process, particularly when the state gets the next revenue forecast in mid-March. The cuts could get worse.
Our state appropriation at the beginning of this fiscal year was about $209 million ($813 million of Colorado's $7.7 billion general fund budget goes to the state's colleges and universities). We received an additional $18.9 million from the state's tobacco settlement, which primarily funds health-related programs. That has been reduced by lower tax collections to $17.4 million.
CU's financial aid and capital construction will also take cuts. State financial aid was reduced by $5 million (although we are able to backfill about $4.1 million of that with reserves). Some $31 million in capital construction projects were put on hold, including renovations to Ketchum and Ekeley on our Boulder campus.
The cuts are particularly painful, considering that Colorado already ranks 48th in the nation in state funding per resident student. And with fewer than five months left in this fiscal year, we must act. Our primary focus is to maintain our core activities of undergraduate, graduate and professional education, and research. We will be deliberate and strategic in the budget reductions, which will affect all our campuses, as well as system administration. We are committed to a process that is open and transparent, involving our key stakeholders. To that end, you can read my ongoing budget communiqués to the CU community.
We are working to ensure CU is included in the upcoming federal economic stimulus package. We have been working with Gov. Ritter and Colorado's congressional delegation, not only on behalf of CU, but for our entire state. Some of the stimulus money may go to shore up the state budget, but should that happen, it will only be one-time money.
Our fundraising operation has also been affected. Like colleges and universities nationwide, our endowment and managed assets took a hit. The good news is that considering performance over the past four years, the CU Foundation's investment team beat the Standard & Poor's 500 Index in both the good times and the bad. Still, CU Foundation President Wayne Hutchens and his leadership team took the prudent step recently of trimming administrative costs. While fundraising totals are running behind last year, the silver lining is that the number of donors has increased 17 percent, and the foundation continues to disburse funds that provide valuable support to CU programs and people.
Despite the gloom of economic conditions, CU's work is too important to simply hunker down. We believe colleges and universities, particularly research universities such as ours, will be key drivers to economic recovery. We not only produce an educated work force, but also engage in research and innovation that improves lives, creates jobs and bolsters the economy. Additionally, CU has a $4.7 billion annual impact on Colorado's economy, creates companies and employs thousands of people (both directly and indirectly).
We intend to ensure that a CU education remains high quality and to continue our contributions toward a healthy state and nation. I welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chancellor Peterson's Opportunity
Advocating for CU
Legislators, who value interaction with constituents and are interested in hearing their concerns, tell us they were impressed by the turnout. Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll addressed the group at a morning session, telling them that lawmakers appreciate their passion for CU and higher education. He echoed the message of the day: Higher education, particularly research institutions such as CU, plays a vital role in a healthy Colorado and nation.
As mentioned above, CU's state funding is being hit hard by the economic downturn. While we recognize the fiscal and state constitutional constraints lawmakers face, it's important that they are reminded continually that an investment in higher education provides significant dividends in terms of economic impact, an educated work force and innovation.
The CU advocates, who represented each of our campuses, were easy to spot. They sported large buttons with the interlocking CU logo. We had a strong showing from the Board of Regents, with six of the nine members of the board in attendance. Each briefly addressed the advocates and thanked them for their attendance. Our students also showed up in force, from student government leaders to lab coat-clad medical students from the Anschutz Medical Campus. You can view some photos from the event.
Advocating for CU with legislators is not a one-day event, however. We encourage you, especially our Colorado alumni and friends, to communicate with your legislators about CU's value.
State Releases Tuition Study
Tuition is obviously foremost on the minds of students and parents who pay the bills. A study showing it is less expensive in Colorado than elsewhere is not much comfort, particularly in these difficult economic times. Yet as is often the case, the data only tell part of the story.
CU's three campuses are up to 12.5 percent below national peers (which are determined by the independent National Center for Higher Education Management Systems) in tuition and fees, led by the Boulder campus, which is 12.5 percent lower.
The other critical component of funding an education at public colleges and universities is state support. Colorado falls woefully short in this regard. Our state ranks 48th nationally in the amount of state funding per resident student. State support per full-time resident undergraduate across CU's campuses is approximately $3,500 per student. The average among our peer institutions is approximately $8,100.
Another aspect is financial aid, which both the state and our institutions award. Over the past 10 years, CU has increased its institutional financial aid from $19 million to $86 million (approximately a 361 percent increase). Over the same period, state aid went from $12.3. million to $19.2 million (approximately a 56 percent increase).
We are committed to keeping a CU education affordable while maintaining a high level of quality. We certainly understand that it is expensive, and that many students and families stretch to pay tuition and fees. Yet we also know that a college education is one of the best investments people ever make.
The return on investment is substantial for individuals, their families and society. College graduates earn more over their working lives than those who do not have a degree. They have more career options. They contribute to the life of their communities in more ways. They are even healthier individuals.
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