Published: Aug. 14, 2018
Aerial view of the CU Boulder campus

The CU Boulder campus has announced it is undertaking a new approach to engaging in strategic financial alignment called Financial Futures.

The initiative, campus leaders say, continues work started 20 months ago to transition to a total funds approach that supports bold initiatives such as Academic FuturesFoundations of Excellence; the Diversity, Inclusion and Academic Excellence Plan and a new enrollment strategy.

Financial Futures will directly align our financial resources with these exciting new strategic priorities,” said Ann Schmiesing, interim senior vice provost for Academic Resource Management. “We will do this with the full involvement of our stakeholders—faculty, staff, students and administrators—in an incremental process similar to what we’ve used in Academic Futures.”

Carla Ho-a, associate vice chancellor for finance and business strategy, who is co-leading the initiative with Schmiesing, said the budget principles guiding the initiative will be “putting our faculty and students first, focusing on continuing budget to invest in strategic priorities, supporting resource decisions with tools, incentivizing revenue generation and reducing duplication.”

“We will be looking holistically at the interaction of procurement strategies, use of gift funds, new revenues and evaluating activity portfolios to build a foundation of funds in support of our mission,” Ho-a said. 

The initiative’s first phase, through mid-October, focuses on building a diagnostic that includes benchmarking, gathering budget and other resource data and conducting interviews across campus to get a sense of what strategic planning opportunities exist.

That phase was launched on Aug. 14 in a kickoff meeting among key administrators and a partial group of Financial Futures advisors. Moving ahead, the Financial Futures advisors—composed of faculty, staff, students and administrators—will provide departmental and functional unit expertise in financial resource planning and implementation.

More focused, campuswide discussions begin in November.  

“At that time, we will be involving the campus community more widely and directly with input opportunities and helping to understand and implement priorities,” Schmiesing said. “Faculty, staff and students can look for engagement opportunities around Financial Futures at that time in CU Boulder Today, in email updates and via unit-level meetings.”

The Financial Futures effort is being led by a team of CU Boulder academic and budget officials, with support by a team from McKinsey & Co., which has a long track record in helping CU Boulder and other public and private higher ed institutions achieve their mission-driven goals.

The total effort is expected to take about 36 months, at the end of which, “CU Boulder will be better positioned to fund its visionary priorities more strategically and effectively,” Ho-a said.