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


Special Report: Chancellor's budget update Jan. 29, 2010
Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano

To the CU-Boulder Community,

I am writing today to keep you up to date on our efforts to manage the state tax funding reduction that is embedded in our budget. As a result of declining state tax revenues, CU-Boulder's continuing state funding has been decreased by approximately $60 million.

This decrease is temporarily backfilled using federal economic recovery funds. However, those funds are scheduled to run out by summer 2011. While we are hopeful that the state economy will recover and that funding to CU-Boulder will be restored, realistically, it is unlikely this will happen fast enough to prevent the need for budget reductions.

You are likely aware that we have already begun to prepare for this inevitable reduction. We implemented $12.9 million in expense reductions effective at the start of the current fiscal year on July 1, 2009. These reductions were a combination of cuts in current staffing, programs and services as well as forgone opportunities to support our Flagship 2030 strategic plan.

We are now in the process of identifying an additional $9.4 million in reductions that will take effect at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1, 2010. This $22.3 million combined reduction represents our best guess of the minimum level of reduction we will face as a campus when the federal funds are exhausted at the end of the next fiscal year.

By taking these reductions now, we are reducing the size of the potential financial "cliff" that will appear when the federal funds run out—as well as positioning the campus to move forward with our strategic plan when the economy turns around.

Like colleges and universities across the state and the nation, we face unparalleled challenges as we continue to confront state budget cuts but we hope that by taking on this challenge directly, we will emerge as a more competitive institution in the future. The difficult choices that are made in the next few months will help to define our university for years to come and in doing so, we will do our best to preserve the quality of education for our students.

I promised to keep you informed as we move through this challenging budget process in consultation with deans, department chairs and governance groups. This is the first of monthly communiques this semester that will keep you up to date on our budget process.

As I mentioned in my State of the Campus address in October, and in subsequent budget updates to the campus, CU-Boulder is taking a three-pronged approach to resolving our budget shortfall centered in revenue enhancements, operational efficiencies and expense reductions. Expense reductions will mean a combination of making hard choices and cutting budgets and personnel, while at the same time taking advantage of opportunities presented in unfilled vacant positions, retirements and consolidations. We will have little choice but to make sacrifices in areas that we value so we can protect the vital core of our mission.

I also mentioned in October that in previous budget reductions we have spread the reductions across the board. Today, we are choosing, instead, to make focused, deep and narrow cuts in some areas of the university so that we can continue our tradition of excellence in other areas and avoid devolving many programs into mediocrity. As a university community, we anticipate we will have to consolidate, or even lose programs and people that we value, based on options presented through this process.

The provost, deans and vice chancellors continue to discuss budget priorities and recommendations to make to me. In our model of shared governance, 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. I will then make recommendations to President Benson in early April, who will present them to the Board of Regents. The other campuses in the CU System are undergoing a similar budget balancing process.

Let me emphasize that in the current budget environment, there are no easy choices that we can make that will not impact our research, teaching and service missions in some way, and that will not hurt valued, and valuable employees here at CU-Boulder.

We share the burden of the times with the families of our employees and our students, and like them, we have to make hard, even painful choices, to preserve what is most critical to us. Instead of pursuing everything on our bold agenda, now we must focus on our core strengths and on the best and most promising of our future ambitions. I know that is a hard thing for an ambitious and successful university to do, but I have faith that the scale and fullness of our dreams will be quickly restored in the better economic times to come. And I believe those times are coming.

As we wait for them to arrive, I recognize that this process will create anxious moments for individuals, and a general unease on campus. In the coming days and weeks, you will, no doubt, hear about options beings discussed, yet I ask you to remember that only some of them will be realized. And I pledge to you that as we engage this process, we will be true to a single value: what is best for the University of Colorado at Boulder.

And finally, even amid these difficult times, I ask that you take heart that our campus community continues to do great things. This month we were rated the No. 5 "Best Value" among public universities across the nation for our ability to offer a top education at a reasonable price. We have top-rated academic programs, we are a national research leader, we have been honored for our community service, and we are a key economic engine for our state. CU-Boulder faculty, staff and students can and should take pride in their work and in the incalculable impact of that work here, and indeed, around the globe.

Please know that your hard work is greatly appreciated, and that we will do our best to preserve the quality of education and core mission of our great university. The times, and our long legacy, demand nothing less.

Phil DiStefano, Chancellor
University of Colorado at Boulder

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