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 Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Special Report: Chancellor's budget update Feb.19, 2010
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano

To the CU-Boulder Community,

These are momentous times for the University of Colorado at Boulder. During the week of Feb. 21, the re-accreditation site team of peer educators will be on campus for the official re-accreditation site visit. As the team evaluates CU-Boulder, we know that important budget developments are also in progress throughout the CU system and at the capitol in Denver. Against this backdrop, I would like to share with you the budget information I discussed with our Re-accreditation Steering Committee.

As you know, colleges and universities across the state and the nation are struggling with severely reduced budgets in these challenging economic times. At CU-Boulder, fiscal year 2009 state tax support began at $86 million in a $1.1 billion total-funds budget.

Reductions in state tax support to higher education from FY09 to date translate into a potential reduction in state funding at CU-Boulder from $86 million to $26 million – a reduction of $60 million. Fortunately, to date, all reductions to higher education have been temporarily backfilled with federal recovery act funds. However, these funds will run out by no later than June 2011.

Considering today's economic conditions it seems unlikely the economy will recover to a sufficient level that would allow the state to return funding to the $86 million level before the temporary funds are exhausted, causing the university to reduce the budget by that amount.

The governor's office has told us that the minimum permanent reduction will lower our state support to $63 million - a reduction of $23 million. However, a larger permanent reduction is likely.

In anticipation of the loss of federal stimulus money backfilling our budget, the university has decided to address what we know will be the minimum level of funding reductions before the federal funds run out in 2011.

Therefore CU-Boulder reduced its budget by $13 million on July 1, 2009 (FY10), and will reduce its budget again by approximately $10 million this July 1 (FY11). We will wait until December to determine if further action is necessary.

The university is being prudent by taking action today to prevent a large "cliff-effect" on our state funding in 2011. If economic conditions improve and projected reductions do not materialize in full, CU-Boulder will be in better position to move forward.

As I mentioned in previous communiques and in my State of the Campus address in October, we are confronting the state support reduction with a three-prong approach of expense reductions, efficiency improvements and revenue enhancements.

These efforts will not be applied across-the-board, but instead will be enacted strategically to programs and units identified as best able to manage the changes. During this process many valuable programs, services, and positions will be lost, but we cannot continue to provide the same level of service with dramatically fewer resources.

The provost, deans and vice chancellors are now discussing budget priorities and recommendations to make to me. In March, the Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Committee – made up of faculty of each college and school and supplemented with staff representatives – will review options for budget reductions proposed by the deans, provost and senior vice chancellor. The Chancellor's Executive Committee will review the proposals in mid-March. I am scheduling a campus forum by mid-April to detail my recommendations to President Benson.

President Benson will present budget balancing of the System and campuses to the Board of Regents at its regular monthly meeting April 22-23 at the Anschutz Medical Campus.

In the coming days and weeks, you will, no doubt hear about budget reduction options being discussed within departments, schools and units. I would like to emphasize at this point they are only options and not final decisions. All options will be thoroughly vetted with campus leadership and with input and recommendations made to me by deans, vice chancellors, the Chancellor's Executive Council and with the Academic Affairs Budget Advisory Committee. No final decisions will be made until that process is complete in time to forward my recommendations to the president in April.

The campus's faculty, staff, students, and administrators have managed this difficult budget-reduction process with great regret, but also with the professionalism and collegiality of a healthy organizational community, and for that I thank all of you. I emphasize again that I believe we will weather these difficult times, make these difficult choices, and keep moving forward.


Phil DiStefano, Chancellor
University of Colorado at Boulder

Click here to view Chancellor DiStefano's February Budget video message.

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