Published: Nov. 12, 2020

At its regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12, which was hosted remotely, the University of Colorado Board of Regents heard updates on financial aid and student debt, as well as efforts on the Boulder campus to improve the student experience. They also received a written report about systemwide diversity and inclusion efforts.

Resolution for tuition reduction

Regent Heidi Ganahl, an at-large Republican from Lone Tree, moved for a vote on a resolution to provide a 20% tuition reduction for all students enrolled full-time during the spring 2021 academic term and a waiver of any spring 2021 student fees for services that will not be provided by the university. The resolution failed by a 6-3 vote, with regents Ganahl; Chance Hill, a Republican from District 5; and John Carson, a Republican from District 6, all voting to support the resolution. Regent Linda Shoemaker noted a tuition reduction would result in further job cuts. 

Financial aid and student debt

Todd Saliman—senior vice president for strategy, government relations and chief financial officer—presented the board with an update on financial aid and student debt. Saliman reported that, in addition to the CARES Act suspension of student loan payments and interest along with other forms of federal relief, $5 million was awarded from the CU Foundation in fall 2020, resulting in 5,223 financial aid awards systemwide with more than 9,000 applicants. 

Saliman’s presentation included information about national trends in student loan debt, financial aid history by source for the state of Colorado, average resident undergraduate student debt at several higher education institutions in Colorado, average debt load and loan amounts and more. Saliman highlighted a new systemwide cost-of-education estimator, which allows students and families to get an idea of the average cost of college on each CU campus and see the impact of transfer credits, living at home and other efforts to reduce personal expenses.

The full financial aid and student debt presentation is available on board docs.

University financial reserves

Saliman also updated the board on the status of emergency tuition stabilization plans for each campus, illustrated the negative revenue impact on each campus along with planned measures for closing those financial gaps, detailed capital reserves for renovations and deferred maintenance needs, and provided information about funds and balances for each campus. The Boulder campus used a mix of internal budget reductions, reserve and CARES Act funding to close a $92.5 million budget gap caused by decreasing tuition revenue and state funding cuts that represent a portion of the cuts the campus expects to face this year. The full university finances presentation is available on board docs.

Additional campus funding for students

During his report, CU President Mark Kennedy announced a further round of funding, totaling $5 million, from the CU Foundation to the campuses.

“Each campus will have the discretion of rewarding its share of this additional $5 million in emergency funding needs or for mental health,” Kennedy said.

“I am grateful to the CU Foundation and our donors for having the resources that we can prioritize our students in this way.”

Report on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

The agenda also notes that the board received a report on diversity, equity and inclusion from CU Chief Diversity Officer Theodosia Cook. The report provides details about diversity scholarships; coalitions, groups and community outreach; the diversity campaign and system administration training and development. 

In-state tuition status for out-of-state Indigenous peoples

The board passed a resolution by a 7-2 vote that the University of Colorado system administration shall work with the Colorado General Assembly to seek approval for in-state tuition status for out-of-state Indigenous peoples whose tribal nations are historically tied to the lands that make up the state of Colorado.

The board also voted to approve a resolution that “the University of Colorado system administration shall continue collaborating with Indigenous community members and leaders across the campuses on a variety of issues to further strengthen the university’s relationship with Indigenous and native communities.”

Newly elected and outgoing regents

Board Chair Glenn Gallegos, a Republican from the 3rd Congressional District, welcomed three new regents to the board, all of them elected in the Nov. 3 election:

  • Callie Rennison - Congressional District 2 
  • Ilana Spiegel - Congressional District 6
  • Nolbert Chavez - Congressional District 7

Rennison won the seat vacated by outgoing Democrat Linda Shoemaker; Spiegel won the seat held by Republican John Carson; and Chavez, a former state legislator, ran unopposed for outgoing Democrat Irene Griego’s seat. All three outgoing regents chose not to seek reelection. 

Directly before the closing of the meeting, the board voted to approve the regent emeritus designation for all three outgoing regents.

Online education

Interim Associate Vice President for Online Learning Scot Chadwick, with support from members of his team in the Office of Digital Education (ODE) , updated the board about the University of Colorado’s efforts to expand high-quality online education to reach new student populations.

Founded in January 2018 to support CU Denver | Anschutz and the goals of the Board of Regents Online Resolution, ODE was expanded in May 2020 and charged with broadening its charter to support all four campuses. 

Chadwick updated the board on the following work that his office has been advancing:

  • Marketing Services: Broadening the awareness of CU’s high-quality online programs in a highly competitive market.
  • Student Recruitment Services: Creating a meaningful first impression of CU for prospective students as they navigate the program selection and application process.
  • Student Enrollment & Success Coaching: Increasing online student satisfaction, engagement, retention and progress to graduation.
  • Instructional Design: Partnering with faculty to collaboratively design quality online programs and courses.
  • Faculty Training: Advancing faculty skills and knowledge for online teaching and technology.

“We are bringing the best of our online programs under this CU online banner so that we can make it easy for prospective students to find us, to find our amazing programs, and learn more about our incredible faculty and be able to advance their education and improve their lives,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick said that his team is also doing everything possible to advance CU’s capabilities in terms of efficiency, how well we are leveraging technology and creating better partnerships and relationships with students as well as our partner programs.

“We are really excited about that work that is going to take off with the fall 2021 set of programs,” said Chadwick.

In other board news

  • The board voted by consent agenda to approve the 2020 cohort of distinguished professorships. The board will recognize the awardees at a future board meeting.
  • The board voted by consent agenda to approve the slate of recipients for the 2021 honorary degrees, Distinguished Service Awards and University Medals. The resolution specifies that the slate will be made public as soon as the University Affairs Committee chair or their designee contacts the awardees to confirm acceptance and that arrangements be made for presentation of these awards at a university commencement or other appropriate event.

Full details on all presentations from the Nov. 12 meeting are available on BoardDocs, and a livestream of the proceedings will be available.