Published: May 20, 2021

In a letter sent to the campus community on Thursday, CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore and Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke shared details related to continuing budget cuts for fiscal year 2022. 

“At the start of the semester, we communicated to campus that each academic and operating unit would be asked to develop planning scenarios for continuing budget cuts of 3%, 4% or 5% for fiscal year 2021-22,” the letter said.

According to the letter, leaders in colleges, schools and units met with leaders from the offices of Budget and Fiscal Planning and Academic Affairs over the course of the spring semester to draft budget scenarios for their respective areas. Plans were then reviewed and finalized by Moore and O’Rourke, in consultation with CU Boulder Chief Financial Officer Carla Ho’a. 

“Yesterday we shared the final fiscal year budget scenarios with college, school and unit leaders. These final budget scenarios, including the necessary cuts, will go into effect July 1 pending approval by the board of regents at their meeting in June. The good news is that our projections were once again on target,” the letter said. The letter went on to say that no office received a cut exceeding 3.5%.

The letter cited a “lower base budget due to the smaller fall 2020 incoming class and a decreased retention rate that will impact the coming fiscal year and beyond” as the reason for the necessary cuts. 

The letter also cited several initiatives the university is launching to maintain and support CU Boulder faculty, staff and students including an end to the temporary pay reductions and furloughs, an increase to the minimum wage, and an extension of the four-year tuition guarantee, among others. 

“Positioning CU Boulder for a successful rebound from the pandemic while prioritizing safety and continued excellence in teaching, research and the student experience is complicated and challenging, but it would be completely impossible without the impeccable staff, faculty and students who make up our community,” the letter said. CU Boulder will use a combination of “increased state funding, one-time federal dollars,” and projections based on incoming fall 2021 enrollments to fund these investments in faculty, staff and students. 

Of the finalized budget scenarios for each college, school and unit, the letter said, “The expected budget cuts demonstrate the ongoing effects of a difficult past year, but the pandemic has also created space for us to reflect on priorities that remain important regardless of circumstances.”  

“The pandemic showed us that we can act decisively, adapt quickly, learn deeply and create positive impacts under incredible constraints. It also further revealed, however, that we have substantial work to do when it comes to structural equity,” the letter said. The letter cited the IDEA Council, Academic Futures, the Campus Master Plan and the Budget Model Redesign as projects underway to begin addressing some of the structural issues. 

“We need to continue to seek out new ways of meeting our mission together, co-creating the new structures and systems that will not only allow us to emerge from the setbacks we’ve endured but to propel us––all of us––forward, together,” the letter said.  

For more information about CU Boulder’s budget and the budget model redesign project underway visit