CU-Boulder's current financial model, with the lowest percentage of state funding among major public research universities nationally, poses a challenge to our future success. State financial support has not kept pace with university needs and now reflects less than 8 percent of the total university budget. Other resources, such as tuition and research grants, make up the majority of the remainder. Private fundraising continues to grow, providing critical funds for new investments.
In the Flagship 2030 planning process, we focused first on creating a far-reaching vision for transformation without considering the impact of the constraints of current conditions. We wanted to decide what should be done before deciding how it could be done. This document emphasizes what is needed to become a leading 21st-century research university and outlines the general financial parameters necessary for success. More specific financial models will be developed as budgetary priorities are set in the implementation phase.
Clearly, our success in moving the university forward will depend on available funding. CU-Boulder will need strategic investments beyond the normal inflation rate—including higher levels of federal and private support for research, creative work, teaching, and student scholarships—to become the model for the "new flagship university" of the 21st century. Just as important, we must convince the state of Colorado to invest in the initiatives outlined in this plan.
In both word and in deed, successful universities earn the support of students, parents, alumni, citizens, leaders of industry, nonprofits, and government officials. People support organizations and institutions that are well managed, inspire confidence, and engender passion.
In the coming decades, the best public universities will be those agile enough to anticipate and embrace change. All signs point to monumental changes in the world: shifting demographics, increased globalization, and heightened geopolitical tensions. We will see a growing dependence on technology, advances in medical science, and expanded quests for new energy sources. Environmental issues will capture the attention of people around the world. This will be the national and international setting within which we will seek to fulfill our mission.
At CU-Boulder, we believe change represents opportunity—the opportunity to redefine the university in new and exciting ways. We see opportunities for leveraging our strengths, such as faculty achievements in research and discovery, to address the complex issues facing society. The prospect of change will encourage us to set new standards of excellence and emerge even stronger in the global community.
How will the changing world affect the university? We expect the workforce will be more mobile and that retaining our most outstanding faculty and staff will be increasingly difficult. With the emergence of advanced information technologies, we anticipate that more students will be drawn to increasingly personalized, interactive, and visual ways of learning. We expect greater focus on emerging fields of study, some of which are most likely unknown today. We anticipate a heightened need for interdisciplinary approaches to education and research.
America's flagship universities have always played a vital role in helping the United States compete in the global economy. With a record of innovation and excellence, our nation's state universities have been called "the greatest system of higher education in the world." Public universities, including CU-Boulder, provide the majority of America's educated workforce, and many conduct groundbreaking research benefiting both America and the world in countless ways. Today, however, countries in Europe and Asia are investing in their own colleges and universities at levels that will challenge America's claim. As a nation, we must address this disparity if we are to remain competitive on a global scale. At CU-Boulder, we feel strongly that America's public universities should encourage a national dialogue on meeting this growing challenge.