The University of Colorado Board of Regents held its regular meeting on Thursday, June 17, voting to approve a pair of tuition changes on the Boulder campus, the 2021–22 CU system budget, and a renaming of the Champions Center. The regents also elected a new board chair and vice chair.
The board approved a pair of proposals that will impact CU Boulder tuition rates for incoming students beginning in fall 2022. The measures will help address projected funding shortfalls that begin in the 2022–23 fiscal year and are expected to grow to as much as $117.4 million by fiscal year 2025–26.
The first measure approved Thursday simplifies CU Boulder’s tuition schedule into four tiers that align to areas of study and better reflect differences in the cost of instruction. That measure alone will generate a projected $6.9 million of additional revenue in the first year, with $1.2 million of that earmarked specifically to increase financial aid for students impacted by the tuition changes.
The second measure approved will raise resident tuition and mandatory fees for incoming student cohorts by $500 each year for the next three years, starting with the fall 2022 cohort. CU Boulder’s four-year tuition guarantee will ensure continuing students will not see additional increases.
CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano noted that the predictability the four-year tuition guarantee creates for students and their families has been instrumental in recent years in increasing the university’s four-year graduation rates, which was something the regents had previously asked the Boulder campus to focus on improving.
“Those four-year graduation rates have increased significantly at the same time that we have had guaranteed tuition,” DiStefano said. “I believe the four-year tuition guarantee is one of the major factors in seeing that increase in four-year graduation rates.”
FY 2021–22 budget, enrollment
The board unanimously approved a $5.2 billion budget for the CU system for the 2021–22 fiscal year, including $2.01 billion for the Boulder campus. The budget includes increased investments by CU Boulder in diversity initiatives, increased investments in financial aid, an increase in the minimum wage for employees to $15 per hour, and Equal Pay Act implementation. The university is also discontinuing the furloughs that resulted in a 5% temporary pay reduction for most employees during the 2020–21 fiscal year.
CU Boulder’s budget includes $98.8 million in state funding, accounting for 4.9% of the total budget.
CU system Senior Vice President Todd Saliman’s budget presentation noted that CU Boulder enrollment is projected to be at 35,819 for the 2021–22 academic year, up 2.4% from the 2020–21 academic year that saw decreased enrollment. While continuing undergraduate student enrollment is projected to decrease, first-year undergraduate enrollment is projected to rebound, and graduate student enrollment is projected to increase for both incoming and continuing students.
While tuition will rise 2.7% for incoming CU Boulder students in fall 2021, the effective increase for them for the 2021–22 academic year is 0% thanks to a one-time tuition buydown made possible by the use of Higher Education Emergency Relief Act (HEERF) funds.
Chair, vice chair elections
The regents elected Jack Kroll, an associate director of admissions at CU Boulder, as the new chair of the board. Kroll was the sole nominee and was elected 7-1, with one abstention, via secret ballot. Regent Sue Sharkey, the sole nominee for vice chair, was elected via a voice vote.
Champions Center renaming
The regents authorized CU Boulder to move forward with renaming the Champions Center––the headquarters of the CU Athletic Department––the “UCHealth Champions Center.” The building name change comes as part of an expanded partnership between CU Athletics and UCHealth that aims to improve the overall health and wellness of students, athletes and the public. UCHealth has been the official healthcare partner of CU Athletics since 2016.
COSINC Laboratory addition
As part of the consent agenda, the regents approved the full program plan and $6.8 million in campus spending authority for construction of a new highly specialized cleanroom space to support the Colorado Shared Instrumentation in Nanofabrication and Characterization (COSINC) Laboratory’s micro- and nano-fabrication materials characterization program.
The COSINC cleanroom project includes the renovation of an existing 3,500-square-foot research lab on the ground floor of the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Laboratory (SEEL) building. It also includes construction of a new 1,200-square-foot mechanical equipment room adjacent to the renovated space to support the cleanroom’s high ventilation requirements.
Construction is tentatively slated to begin in late summer, with occupancy slated for spring 2022.
The cleanroom will serve various ongoing research projects within the College of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as across campus, in the areas of electronics, photonics, energy and biomedical engineering.
In other board news
- The regents voted down a resolution proposed by Regent Chance Hill to oppose the decisions by university administrators to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. The vote was 6-3.
- The board approved updated five-year contracts for men’s head basketball coach Tad Boyle and women’s head basketball coach JR Payne. Both coaches’ contracts now run through the 2025-26 seasons.
- The board heard an update on the CU System strategic plan from President Mark Kennedy and campus representatives, including CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. The regents agreed to vote on acceptance of the strategic plan at a future meeting.
- As part of the consent agenda, the regents approved a schedule extension of spending authority to complete buildout of 3,254 square feet of space in the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building (JSCBB) Academic Wing to create a new Visualization Suite that will provide hands-on student learning/training on highly technical research equipment. The suite will also include a microscopy lab, a shared instrumentation lab for biochemistry, and an x-ray and common-use lab for chemical and biological engineering. The buildout of the space is within the original approved scope and budget for the JSCBB Academic Wing project. The deadline for spending state-appropriated funds for the JSCBB Academic Wing is near and an extension is needed to build out the final remaining space in the building. No additional funds are being sought, but the extension is pending final approval by the state legislature’s Capital Development Committee.
- On consent, the board approved multiple preliminary program plans for capital construction projects, including some on the Boulder campus. 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 regents. Preliminary program plans for the Boulder campus approved Thursday include Phase II renovations of portions of the Fleming Building, a comprehensive renovation of Farrand Hall, a renovation of roughly 40% of the Muenzinger Psychology building, structural repairs to the Old Main, Macky Auditorium and Hale Science buildings, two mobility hubs that would support multimodal travel options, and a pair of parking structures.
- The regents discussed proposed changes to Regent Policy 3.C, which governs searches for administrators and outlines guidelines for the appointment of chief officers of the university. The board decided that there would be further discussion at a future meeting before the board votes on the changes.