Published: Feb. 5, 2019

Financial Futures, responsible for discovering and uncovering ways to support Academic Futures and other key strategic initiatives, is now in the solution design phase. Workstream sponsors and leads are identifying project owners as hundreds of ideas, ranging from new educational opportunities to changes in the ways purchases are considered for campus impact and return on mission.  

“We are very excited about the work that’s being done in each of the workstreams launched during the first wave of the solution design phase,” said Ann Schmiesing, senior vice provost for academic resource management and co-lead of Financial Futures. “New ideas and ways of thinking are being explored, and synergies are being forged as the campus community collaborates on aligning CU’s resources with its mission.”

Financial Futures focuses on four primary areas for identifying innovative ways to generate resources: procurement adoption strategy, use of gift funds, revenue generation and portfolio evaluation. The following insights from seven workstream leads and sponsors illustrate the creativity and the momentum for change that’s underway.

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Gift funds

The goals for the gift funds workstream are to be able to optimize the use of all gift funds at CU Boulder and to provide CU Boulder colleges, schools and organizations with tools to enhance visibility into relevant gift fund information. At present, the group is reviewing balances from current gift funds with an available balance of less than $1,000 and considering appropriate uses for these funds. 

“I am pleased by how the campus has embraced this workstream,” said Margot Neufeld, assistant vice chancellor for Parent Giving and Boulder Advancement Programs, and sponsor of the Financial Futures gift workstream. “As people become more aware of the work we are doing in Financial Futures, some are reaching out to me saying, ‘I have a fund like that’ and asking about their options.”

Transfer enrollment

“I’m really excited by an idea being developed in the transfer workstream aimed at improving the overall timeliness of the transfer credit evaluation process,” said Shelly Bacon, assistant vice provost for Advising and Academic Service and lead of the transfer enrollment workstream. “Prospective and incoming transfer students will have a view of their CU degree path much earlier.” 


Robert McDonald, dean of University Libraries, said the programmatic synergy between Academic Futures and Financial Futures in his particular workstream is key. “Our group has a solid foundation to build from based on the recommendations put forth in the Academic Futures report. We’ve received more than 10 nominations in a short period for the joint working group we’ll bring together later this month.”  


“The partnership between the Procurement Service Center (PSC) and the greater CU community is vital to the campus mission,” said Sandy Hicks, associate vice president and chief procurement officer. “The conversations we’re having as part of Financial Futures ideation and listening sessions are energizing. Financial Futures is making more people aware of the work and the mission of the PSC and how it supports the efforts of our faculty, staff and students through proactive procurement management.


Ken Anderson, associate dean for education in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, is especially excited about the support he sees developing for academic advising in the retention workstream. “Advisors are on the front line of our retention initiatives on campus; they are often the first people a student goes to when they start to struggle.” Shelly Bacon agrees. “Hopefully Financial Futures will provide the structure and the resources we need to fully articulate and realize the value of academic advising.”

Freshmen enrollment

“What gives me the most inspiration is that faculty, staff and students are all working in concert with one another in a ‘university-first’ approach to making CU Boulder an even better institution,” said Kevin MacLennan, assistant vice chancellor of Enrollment Management. “For example, our workstream is exploring an idea around comprehensive scholarship coordination. This could allow potential students and families to make informed acceptance decisions as early as possible.”

Summer and evening

“There’s been incredible interest in ideas for summer at CU Boulder, in particular,” said Kathy Schultz, dean of the College of Education. “The ideas are wide ranging, too, everything from specific programming for targeted populations to rethinking the summer schedule.”

“CU community members have generated more than 300 ideas so far, and each week new project owners are stepping forward to take these ideas forward.” said Carla Ho-a, deputy CFO and co-lead of Financial Futures. “Students, staff and faculty—anyone—can bring an idea they’re passionate about into this process. I am truly excited about the level engagement and for what the future holds.”

Ho-a and Schmiesing encourage campus community members who want to become project owners or stay up to date on Financial Futures events to visit the Financial Futures website.