Published: June 7, 2021

Financial Futures, designed and launched to align campus resources with the university’s priorities and mission, is continuing through June 2023. 

“As a campus, we have spent the last two and a half years building new capabilities to identify and rigorously test ideas for financial resilience and mission enhancement,” said Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke. “We will continue to develop the Financial Futures process as a way to support the vital work of Academic Futures, the Inclusion, Diversity, and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan and other key priorities.” 

More than 50 units on campus have implemented projects via Financial Futures. Examples include a project to increase undergraduate and graduate student access to mental health services, a project aimed to expand and strengthen areas of research collaboration between CU Anschutz and CU Boulder, a project to use in-house audio/visual design and engineering capabilities (instead of contractors) and a project to increase academic advising across campus. 

Financial Futures projects captured approximately $30 million in fiscal year 2020. Looking ahead, the strategic transformation team estimates an impact of over $60 million in fiscal year 2021 and more than $100 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. According to Financial Futures tracking data, 80% of the projected impacts will be realized in colleges, schools and units.

“The work of Financial Futures is especially vital as we emerge from the challenges of COVID-19,” said Ann Schmiesing, executive vice provost for academic resource management and a lead for the Financial Futures initiative.

To support the more than 195 Financial Futures projects implemented since 2019, the cross-functional strategic transformation team, composed of staff who work in both Academic Affairs and Strategic Resources and Support (SRS), was formed in October 2020. 

“We were very intentional about maintaining the reporting structure that bridges Academic Affairs and SRS,” Schmiesing said. “Our alignment and collaboration are key to the success of these projects and to realizing the projected gains for all levels of the campus.”

Carla Ho’a is CU Boulder’s chief financial officer and a Financial Futures lead.

“We are excited to continue development of the strategic transformation team as a campuswide resource for structured and informed decision-making to support campus strategic priorities,” said Ho’a. 

Co-led by Abby Benson, associate vice chancellor for SRS, and Quentin McAndrew, assistant vice provost and executive director for strategic transformation, the strategic transformation team is charged with ensuring projects are able to deliver on strategic goals set for campus via mission alignment, cost savings, cost avoidance, and/or revenue generation. Benson will continue her role as chief of staff to O’Rourke and McAndrew will continue her role as executive director for academic and learning innovation for the CU Boulder online education team.

In addition to Benson and McAndrew, the team includes Gwen Evans and Christina Tenerowicz, who transitioned from the Office of Information Technology full-time to the transformation team as associate director and director of strategic transformation, respectively. Evans and Tenerowicz provide essential project management, business case development and project-tracking support for faculty and staff, serving as initiative sponsors, leads and project owners. 

Other team members include Brian Danielson, senior strategy and business analyst, Jordan Pfannenstiel, budget analyst, and Kathryn Tisdale, director of communication and strategic initiatives, who provide business and financial analysis and communication support, respectively, as part of their existing roles on campus.

“We’re delighted to welcome Scott Jones, assistant director in Budget and Finance, who will be supporting our efforts starting in June 2021,” said Benson.

Of their work with Financial Futures stakeholders, McAndrew said, “It’s incredible to work with CU Boulder faculty and staff as they implement projects that are critical to our continued fiscal resilience. Their energy, creativity and dedication to CU Boulder is truly astounding.” 

“I want to recognize the CU Boulder faculty and staff who have engaged in innovative thinking, commitment and collaboration in the Financial Futures journey so far,” said Provost Russell Moore. “Their efforts have resulted in projects that are already impacting our campus in important ways and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.”

According to Benson and McAndrew, the strategic transformation team will lead an annual review of Financial Futures projects to be completed in fall 2021. More information is available at Financial Futures.