Published: Nov. 5, 2021

The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved compensation increases for eligible university staff, faculty, and graduate students during its meeting at CU Denver on Nov. 5.

The board also covered a range of other business, including voting 3-6 against a resolution related to academic freedom and discrimination proposed by Regent Heidi Ganahl.

Compensation increases

The compensation increases, announced by CU system President Todd Saliman in an email Friday and approved unanimously by the regents, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Several regents and Saliman expressed gratitude to CU employees for their hard work, especially during the pandemic, and noted the rising cost of living in Colorado.

Eligibility criteria and additional details are available in CU Boulder Today and on the January 2022 compensation FAQ page.

Academic freedom and critical race theory

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board of Regents discussed a resolution that Ganahl proposed for consideration. 

The proposed resolution (PDF), which Ganahl described in her introductory comments as an anti-discrimination measure, would limit CU campuses from considering race, ethnicity or gender when hiring faculty or staff or administering or evaluating academic programs. 

The resolution also stated an intention to codify other principles into regent law and policy, including that no teacher, administrator, or other employee of the University of Colorado shall attempt to enforce through grading or mandatory training programs discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes toward any race, ethnicity or gender. 

The resolution failed on a 3-6 vote. Regents Ganahl, Chance Hill and Sue Sharkey voted for the resolution; Regents Nolbert Chavez, Glen Gallegos, Callie Rennison, Lesley Smith, Ilana Spiegel and Jack Kroll voted against.

Before the vote on the resolution, Chancellor Philip DiStefano spoke about his commitment to support the existing principles of academic freedom, shared governance and freedom of expression contained in regent law and policy. He noted that these principles form the foundation that the faculty relies upon for teaching and performing research.

Saliman and the chancellors of the other campuses in the University of Colorado system expressed similar commitments of support for the principles of academic freedom. 

The prior day, during their shared governance reports, the leaders of the Faculty Council and the Staff Council shared resolutions that their governance organizations recently passed to express their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and their expectation that the regents and senior administrators would protect the principles of shared governance, academic freedom, and freedom of expression. 

The leaders of the Intercampus Student Forum also commented upon academic freedom and the vitality of free expression of ideas.

At its own meeting on Thursday, the Boulder Faculty Assembly endorsed the Faculty Council resolution.

COVID-19 update

DiStefano provided an update on the COVID-19 status on the Boulder campus, where the virus has remained contained despite recent spikes in Boulder County.

DiStefano credited high compliance with the CU system vaccination requirement for the campus’s success. Of roughly 33,000 students who submitted their vaccination status, 94% are vaccinated; among faculty and staff, the vaccination rate is 96%.

As of Nov. 4, the campus had completed more than 6,800 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests since Sept. 8, identifying 145 positive cases, a 2% positivity rate.

A rise has occurred in COVID-19 cases in Boulder County in the last week, mostly among zero-to-11-year-olds and 35-to-44-year-olds, rather than the traditional college-age population, he noted. The sharpest increases have been in areas outside the city of Boulder.

In addition to the vaccination requirement, CU Boulder has continued ventilation and cleaning protocols in campus buildings, continued contact tracing protocols and maintained a mask requirement for all indoor public spaces, in keeping with Boulder County’s requirement.

DiStefano said the campus will continue evaluating the mask requirement into the spring semester, when CU Boulder plans to offer 93% of classes in person.

The campus is also planning for an in-person Commencement ceremony in spring 2022.

CU system strategic plan

Regents received updates Thursday on the recently approved CU system strategic plan, focusing on pillars related to affordability and student success, and innovation in teaching and learning.

CU Boulder Associate Vice Chancellor Katherine Eggert shared graduation and retention rates and new strategies being implemented to improve both rates.

“Our story of retention rates is a good story about recent improvement,” Eggert said. “Also a story about a ways to go. We’ll have the same to say about graduation rates.”

After a dip during COVID-19, the cohort of first-year students who started in fall 2020 and returned for their second year tied the campus’s all-time high of 87% for retention. Underrepresented minorities, first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients had lower retention rates than the overall cohort, she said.

Four-year graduation rates increased from 46% for the 2013 entering class to 58% for the 2017 entering class, while six-year graduation rates increased from 69% for the 2013 entering class to 74% for the 2015 entering class.

CU Boulder has established goals of reaching a 93% first-to-second-year retention rate by fiscal year 2026 and an 80% six-year graduation rate by fiscal year 2026.

Eggert outlined several recent initiatives aimed at improving students’ retention and graduation rates during the meeting.

Michael Lightner, vice president for academic affairs for the CU system, outlined a plan called CU Next that provides $1.5 million from the president’s office to spur innovative teaching and learning.

The program will solicit proposals from faculty on all four campuses for innovative classroom activities that improve student outcomes.

As details are finalized, the committee intends to request proposals by the end of 2021 and award funds in the spring for projects to be implemented in fall 2022.

Other Business

The board also:

The board of regents will host an open forum from 1 to 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 at CU Boulder to gather input and take questions on the CU system president search. The forum will be held at the Glenn Miller Ballroom in the University Memorial Center and via Zoom. Individuals also may submit comments via the regents’ feedback form.