The University of Colorado Board of Regents held its regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11, voting to approve the renaming of a pair of buildings on the Boulder campus and holding a preliminary discussion on tuition, fees and compensation. The board also formally recognized members of the 2020 cohort of Distinguished professors.
New building names
The board approved recommendations from Chancellor Philip DiStefano to rename a pair of buildings on the CU Boulder campus to honor the legacies of Lucile Berkeley Buchanan and Albert and Vera Ramírez.
The Education Building will become the Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Building, honoring a lifelong educator who positively impacted the lives of hundreds of African American students in the South and in the Chicago public school system. Buchanan was also the first African American woman to graduate from CU Boulder when she did so with a degree in German in 1918.
Temporary Building 1 will be renamed Albert and Vera Ramírez Temporary Building 1 in honor of the academic and community engagement legacies of psychology and neuroscience Professor Emeritus Ramírez and Vera, his late wife.
Tuition, fees, enrollment and compensation
CU system Senior Vice President Todd Saliman presented a projection for tuition, fees, enrollment and compensation for the upcoming 2021-22 academic year.
Tuition, fee and compensation changes are expected to go forward to the CU Board of Regents for approval in April.
Following a 1.9% decrease in enrollment in the fall of 2020 compared with fall 2019, the CU Boulder campus is projecting a 2% enrollment increase to 35,683 for fall 2021. This increase reflects a restoration of enrollment to pre-pandemic fall 2019 levels.
Following three consecutive years of zero-percent tuition increases, and in line with the other campuses, CU Boulder is proposing a tuition increase for the 2021-22 academic year. The increase, capped at 3%, would apply only for graduate students and incoming undergraduates. The four-year tuition guarantee for continuing undergraduate students will keep tuition for those students flat. Additionally, current students who are undergraduate seniors this year will have their four-year guarantee extended to a fifth year for the 2021-22 academic year, keeping their tuition flat as well.
“We have recognized the need to extend our tuition guarantee for those students in their fourth year for one additional year to ensure that those students have the opportunity to complete their studies, and we appreciate Regent Sharkey bringing this issue to our attention,” DiStefano said during his campus update for CU Boulder.
CU Boulder is requesting a 50% decrease of the Residential Academic Program fees, from $850 per year to $425. The student Transit Pass fee is expected to increase by $7.76 to $86.18 per semester, while the CU Student Government student activity fee is still to be determined. The Graduate and Professional Student Government fee is expected to increase to $11.62 per semester, up $4.12.
Room and board rates are projected to increase 3%, including residence halls, Bear Creek and graduate and family housing.
Saliman said the CU system is looking at realigning the merit pool decision timeline, with a decision slated for the April CU Board of Regents meeting. Currently, merit pool increases affect pay for the fiscal year period (July 1 to June 30). If approved, the timeline would shift to a calendar year period (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) that would allow campus leaders to make merit pool decisions based on actual fall enrollment figures in September.
While the financial feasibility of merit pool increases is unlikely for the upcoming fiscal year, the campuses are first prioritizing restoring furloughs and pay reductions from the 2020-21 fiscal year. Campus revenue targets needed for merit pool increases will be identified in April.
The exception to all of this, Saliman said, is classified staff. The state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has recommended a 2.5% compensation pool for classified staff that, if approved by the legislature this spring, would go into effect July 1.
The CU Boulder campus is projecting $1 million in diversity, equity and inclusion investments for the upcoming fiscal year to advance core actions around creating inclusive environments, experiences and opportunities for all students, faculty and staff.
The campus is also budgeting an estimated $8.5 million needed to implement the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act that went into effect in Colorado on Jan. 1. That figure is a preliminary estimate, as true impacts of the legislation are still being calculated.
If revenue comes in higher than currently expected in fiscal 2022, the Boulder campus would consider a compensation pool for faculty and staff, as well as investments to support enrollment growth and added investments in diversity, equity and inclusion priorities.
If revenue comes in lower, potential impacts could include hiring delays, position eliminations, continuous and intermittent furloughs, planned separations and retirements, and layoffs. That is in addition to operational budget reductions to items like travel, official functions, deferred maintenance and hardware and software, as well as reduced investment in strategic priorities and use of reserves and remaining contingency funds and a potential pause on capital projects.
The board honored five members of the 2020 class of distinguished professors. The 2020 class included 12 honorees in all, including eight from CU Boulder.
The five distinguished professors honored Thursday included three from the Boulder campus: Mark Ablowitz, Michelle Ellsworth and William Penuel. The other seven honorees, including five more from CU Boulder, will be honored at the board’s April meeting.
State and legislative report
The regents heard an update on state and federal legislative issues that included a unified funding request from presidents of the state’s higher education institutions seeking to restore fiscal 2020 base funding for public higher education institutions. The request also seeks to increase funding to cover base core minimum cost increases for fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2022. Of the proposed $81.8 million increase for all of higher education, the CU portion would be $21 million. The increase includes $10 million for first-generation students.
State legislative priorities this year are expected to include requiring public institutions to offer in-state tuition to American Indian students who are members of tribes with historical ties to Colorado lands, as well as legislation that would make it optional for institutions to require standardized test scores for admissions purposes.
Other anticipated legislation at the state level would prohibit universities’ ability to withhold transcripts for having unpaid bills and prohibit institutions from considering legacy status in admissions criteria.
During the chancellor updates for each campus, DiStefano said the state’s revised COVID-19 dial criteria “greatly increase” CU Boulder’s ability to continue in-person instruction for the spring semester. He added that the spring again will be a “COVID-centric” semester that will continue to require mask wearing, social distancing and enforcement of public health orders.
DiStefano noted that most students will be in Phase III of the state’s vaccination schedule.
“That really means our student population will be vaccinated by next fall, and we’re planning for an experience with more events, more in-person classes, and a more vibrant experience,” he said. “It still won’t be completely normal, and we’ll be testing, vaccinating and keeping the campus COVID-safe for the foreseeable future.”
DiStefano also updated the regents on the continued limitations on in-person events during the spring semester and looking ahead to commencement in May.
“Our commencement committee is working closely with our Senior Class Council, student Alumni Association and Student Affairs groups to identify in-person opportunities beyond commencement that will help to celebrate our graduates this spring,” DiStefano said.
In other board news
- The board approved by consent agenda sabbaticals for three CU Boulder professors: Anushree Chatterjee, Gregor Henze and Jody Jahn.
- Also by consent agenda, the board approved preliminary program plans for renovation projects at Carlson Gymnasium, Libraries/Museum Collections and the Engineering Center Office Tower. The projects have been identified as needs the campus intends to pursue sometime in the next five years. The projects do not require significant immediate funding, and the timeline will be determined based on final approval of full program plans by the CU Board of Regents.
- The board approved by consent agenda a rollover of men’s basketball head coach Tad Boyle’s current contract, extending the agreement for one additional year through June 30, 2026. No other terms of the deal changed.
- The board also honored CU Treasurer Dan Wison and Associate Vice President for Internal Audit Kevin Sisemore, who are both retiring this year.