Published: June 23, 2023

The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved the 2023–24 budget for all four campuses this week, voting unanimously on a plan that anticipates a 0.5% overall increase in enrollment for CU Boulder this fall.

The regents also heard a presentation about the success and global impact of CU Boulder’s innovation ecosystem, including several startup companies that emerged from campus quantum research.

The board also voted to approve three new degree programs at CU Boulder, approved program plans for renovations at Williams Village and the Economics Building, and recognized a new distinguished professor during its meeting Thursday and Friday on the CU Boulder campus.

Budget approval

The Board of Regents voted to approve tuition, fees and compensation at the April meeting. At Friday’s meeting, the board approved the overall CU budget for 2023–24, which totals $2.3 billion for the CU Boulder campus. Key aspects of CU Boulder’s budget include a: 

  • 4% increase in tuition plus a mandatory fee increase for incoming undergraduate resident and non-resident students. Because of CU Boulder’s tuition guarantee, only new students, not continuing undergraduates who will complete their degrees in four years, will see the increase in their tuition and fees. 
  • 4% tuition increase for graduate students.
  • 4% merit compensation pool for university staff and faculty. 
    • The campus plans to propose an additional 4% merit pool for the 2024–25 fiscal year, if funds are available, to allow a total 8% merit pool over the next two years. 
  • 5% across-the-board pay increase for classified staff in line with the state of Colorado.
  • Minimum wage increase for staff ($18/hour) and student workers ($16/hour).

Provost Russ Moore told regents that CU Boulder leadership is “guardedly optimistic” that the campus might see some enrollment growth and reach campus enrollment targets for fall. The campus is currently estimating a 0.5% increase in total enrollment for fall, for a total of 36,300 students.

CU Boulder’s startup ecosystem

CU Boulder is transforming its startup ecosystem on campus, channeling its research innovations to improve lives across the world, said Bryn Rees, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation.

Rees, who also serves as managing director of Venture Partners at CU Boulder, described increases in quantity and quality of startup activity from campus over the last three years.

Exactly 44 startup companies emerged from CU Boulder over the last three years, Rees said. This year, a new national ranking placed the University of Colorado fifth in the country for startup creation, according to AUTM, the leading global organization for recording data on university commercialization.

In 2021, startup companies connected to CU Boulder raised over $2 billion in capital, Rees added.

“This is not just an insular, university win,” Rees said. “This is an impact for Colorado, and it is an impact for the country.”

Rees described specific programs the campus has launched in the last several years to help academic researchers cross the “valley of death” from promising inventions to solid investment.

Professors Jun Ye and Greg Rieker, along with entrepreneur Eva Yao, described several recent startups related to quantum advances discovered on the CU Boulder campus.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano stressed that such groundbreaking impact comes from multiple fields of study working together.

“One discipline will not solve the complex problems that we’re talking about here today,” DiStefano said. 

Building renovations 

The regents also approved program plans for two upcoming campus renovation projects.

The Williams Village Clean Thermal Energy Transition Project is a utility infrastructure project to upgrade the heating distribution system and mechanical equipment. The project is focused on converting sections of the existing steam distribution piping system and building mechanical systems to use heating hot water, a necessary step to the eventual transition away from steam to lower-temperature hot water, as recommended in the campus Energy Master Plan. 

Lowering the temperature of the heating loop from steam to hot water will allow for transition to different clean thermal energy solutions to help meet the campus 2050 zero-carbon goals. The estimated cost of the project is $8.5 million, and construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2024 and be complete by December 2024.

Renovation of the Economics Building will include classroom improvements and more efficient offices according to the Campus Space Allocation Guidelines. The project is estimated to cost approximately $29.5 million. Construction is expected to begin in August 2025 and be complete by February 2027.

Regents also approved the prioritized capital budget project list for 2024–25 and a five-year projection of state need list, which defines which capital projects will be prioritized to receive state funding.

Other business

The board also:

  • Met in breakout groups to discuss local community partnerships, a pillar of the CU system strategic plan.
  • Heard public comment from three speakers who urged the board to divest its investments from fossil fuels.
  • Recognized Professor and Dean Emeritus Rob Davis as a new distinguished professor, the highest honor that is bestowed upon CU faculty that recognizes excellence in research, teaching and service.
  • Elected Regent Callie Rennison as the next board chair and Regent Ken Montera as vice chair.
  • Approved three new degrees at CU Boulder: a bachelor's in education studies and interdisciplinary master's and doctoral degrees in robotics.
  • Approved 62 sabbaticals and 41 tenure awards for faculty members at CU Boulder.
  • Updated several regent policies.
  • Extended the contract for CU Boulder men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle by one year, through June 2028.

The board will hold its annual summer retreat on July 12–14 in Bailey, Colorado, and a limited-agenda board meeting on Aug. 9 via Zoom. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7–8 at CU Denver.