Published: May 1, 2019

In August of 2018, Financial Futures launched with five main goals: to align the university’s resources to its mission, ensure support for Academic Futures as it transitions from discovery to planning and implementation, improve the university’s financial health and resilience, build capacity for the university’s other strategic initiatives, which include Strategic Facilities Visioning, Foundations of Excellence and the IDEA plan, and maximize the university’s potential.

“The combined efforts of faculty, staff and students working on these initiatives allow the university to actively explore and develop opportunities,” said Carla Ho-a, deputy CFO for the Boulder campus and co-lead of the Financial Futures initiative. “As a community, we are boldly, intelligently and intentionally designing the future of this campus.”

Starting with a diagnostic and benchmarking phase, Financial Futures delved into four areas of focus: procurement, use of gift funds, new revenue generation and portfolio evaluation.

“This wasn’t about chasing the easy dollars,” said Ann Schmiesing, senior vice provost for academic resource management and co-lead of Financial Futures. “This was about generating and allocating resources to ensure we can deliver on our mission as a comprehensive public teaching and research institution.”

The exploration into the four focus areas resulted in the identification of 14 different opportunity areas or workstreams.

During the course of the academic year, Financial Futures sponsors and leads held more than 50 focus group meetings, listening sessions and town halls to engage the campus community. Participants generated more than 300 ideas related to the first wave of workstreams: freshman and transfer enrollment, student retention, online activities, summer and evening offerings, and procurement.

Many of these ideas were developed into projects, enduring a rigorous evaluation process that included business cases and plans for implementation.

“More than 100 faculty and staff volunteered to be project owners, investing time and effort into developing robust plans,” said Ho-a. “This was a huge lift, and I am inspired, but not at all surprised, to see our community so committed and engaged.”

So far, campus leadership has approved approximately 85 projects for implementation, with estimates for generating around $30 million in revenue and cost savings.

“Thoughtful analysis and concept testing is not new to CU,” said Schmiesing. “It’s foundational to the work we do each day as teachers, researchers, staff and students.”

Earlier this month, as this first wave of projects moved into the implementation phase, a second wave launched exploring opportunities in research activities and program portfolio. Subsequent launches in areas including auxiliaries and graduate education are expected this summer and fall.

“The potential for new sources of revenue is exciting,” said Ho-a. “But what’s even more exciting is that this process has further highlighted the demand for strategic decisions related to areas like student success and online offerings, which campus constituents raised via Academic Futures and Foundations of Excellence.”

“We’re tremendously excited to see Financial Futures supporting the work of these initiatives,” said Schmiesing. “We look forward to further convergences of the campus’s strategic initiatives in the next academic year.”

Visit the strategic initiatives webpage to learn more about each of the initiatives and to see schedules for town halls, meetings and other engagement opportunities. You can provide feedback on the strategic initiatives to the provost and senior vice chancellor by sending an email to