Published: Sept. 23, 2021

At its meeting yesterday, members of the University Executive Leadership Team received an update on the budget model redesign project, including where the project is in its timeline, initial design parameters, the work of the project committees to date and opportunities for the campus community to learn more

Launched in December 2020, the budget model redesign project aims to develop a more transparent and responsive allocation of funding to schools, colleges and campus support units and an enhanced ability to support the university’s mission and priorities.

Where we are in the process: solution design

According to Carla Ho’a, chief financial officer for the CU Boulder campus, Katrina Spencer, deputy chief financial officer, and Ann Schmiesing, executive vice provost for academic resource management, the project is progressing through the second phase, solution design. The first phase of the project, called the diagnostic phase, included stakeholder interviews, peer benchmarking and current-state analysis. It concluded in spring 2021. 

In solution design, the Design Committee provides recommendations to the Strategic Alignment Committee (SAC) for each component of how funding will flow across campus in the new model. After review, discussion and refinements or changes to components and testing of how they work together, the SAC will recommend a model to the executive sponsors

Later this year, the committees will begin testing the recommended components to see how they work together and to identify potential unintended consequences. Implementation readiness, a phase of solution design that will include the rollout of training and education opportunities for budget staff across campus, is scheduled to begin in late spring 2022.  

Schmiesing stressed the importance of designing a model that serves as a tool to realize CU Boulder’s mission and priorities. 

“Our committee members are putting in long hours and a lot of work to design a model that serves our mission as a comprehensive teaching and research institution that serves the public good,” Schmiesing said. “At every turn, they are collegial and focused on how various options might affect entities across the university, not just their own school, college or campus support unit.” 

Initial design parameters

As part of the early work of the project, the executive sponsors provided the SAC with certain parameters for the new model. 

The redesign will focus on the allocation of net tuition, which is gross tuition less financial aid, refunds, adjustments and waivers.

  • Revenue sharing agreements will be addressed as part of the redesign.
  • Indirect cost recovery distributions, including department allocation of indirect cost recovery, will not change in the new model.
  • The percentage allocation of net tuition to schools and colleges versus campus support units will start at a 65/35 split, similar to what the allocations have been historically.
  • The model will include a strategic fund to provide pooled funds for strategic investment. 

Work to date

The strategic alignment and design committees began meeting in the spring and continued to meet over the summer. Early budget components being discussed include a methodology for allocating undergraduate net tuition to colleges/schools and campus support units, student retention and graduation incentives, and the development of strategic funds to support campuswide priorities. 

In addition, the committees have convened working groups to delve into topics such as academic revenue sharing programs and cost allocations. 

Katrina Spencer chairs the design committee. 

“I am so impressed by the committee and the work they are doing together,” said Spencer. “They are having real, candid conversations about how we allocate funding as a campus.”

Opportunities to engage 

The campus budget website provides resources for those interested in learning more about the campus budget as well as updates on the redesign process. 

Ho’a, Schmiesing and Spencer will host three virtual Coffee and the Campus Budget sessions in October and November. These sessions for CU Boulder faculty, staff and students will include updates on the campus budget and the redesign project. Register to attend.

Ho’a looks forward to these sessions each semester.

“They offer an opportunity to engage in candid conversations with CU Boulder faculty, staff and students about the financial health of our campus,” Ho’a said.  

 If you attend

Thursday, Oct. 21, 10–11 a.m.
Registration deadline: Wednesday, Oct. 20, midnight

Thursday, Oct. 28, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Registration deadline: Wednesday, Oct. 27, midnight

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 9–10 a.m.
Registration deadline: Monday, Nov. 8, midnight

All sessions will be held virtuallty via Zoom.

Register Now