Colleagues and Students,

Sorry to intrude twice in one week with budget updates, but I thought a short note (at least by my standards) was in order.

Governor’s budget projects cuts for higher education

Governor Hickenlooper released his budget for next year yesterday.

It contains $36M in cuts for higher education, but recall that we’ve been modeling a range of cuts, up to the $50M range. The Governor’s budget, along with the information the Deans and VPs provided at the campus Planning & Budget Hearings in January, coupled with feedback from our Board of Governors at our meeting this week, allows Provost Rick Miranda and I to finalize the draft budget we’ll be presenting to campus around March 1.

I’d invite any of you who’d like to be more involved to attend the upcoming open sessions dealing with the budget — we’ll be holding a Budget 101 informational session February 28 from 2-3:30 in the Cherokee Park Room and the Budget Open Forum specifically to discuss next year’s draft budget will be March 9 from 8-10 a.m. in the North Ballroom.

Cuts will be challenging

In one sense, there’s not much to like about the budget we’ll be delivering to you. It raises tuition, and I think the path we are on there is bad public policy — even though I believe it is the best plan for CSU given the options we have on the table. It enters our 3rd year without salary increases and continues our hiring freeze. The Governor’s budget includes additional cuts to PERA that will result in an actual pay decrease for some of our employees. The cuts we will be taking will be challenging, and we’ll have eliminated $37M in expenses over the past 3 years. We will lose some more of CSU’s most valuable asset: our people.

Retention, graduation rates up; record enrollment and research productivity

But in another sense, there is reason to be proud of how our campus community has and is responding to the worst budget crisis of our lifetimes. Our retention and graduation rates are up, as is our enrollment — to record levels. There is innovation in our classrooms and obviously much we are doing well, as judged by very selective consumers — our students. Our research productivity continues at one of the highest levels in the nation and not a week passes in which CSU faculty and students do not receive some major award for advancing human understanding and improving the condition of our world.

By any of a variety of measures, our engagement with communities across our state — and indeed around the world — is valued and is on a positive trajectory. We have maintained and improved the physical aspect of our campus for those who will follow us at this great university. We have managed the resources available to us during this downturn (including ARRA stimulus funds) in such a manner that, while we will have lost nearly 7% of our non-faculty workforce, the vast majority of the loss was via attrition.

Involuntary separations from the university will likely end up at slightly over 100 of our colleagues, thus minimizing the effect on the local economy compared with mass lay-offs.

Optimism with balanced budget, exceptional foundation

And I continue to think there is reason to be optimistic as we look to the future. The worst of this crisis appears to be behind us. Our budget is balanced. We have an exceptional foundation from which to build, and I have a strong sense that next year’s budget will bring us opportunities for some repair and growth.

More to follow, of course, and the budget for the state is far from finalized, but we’ll keep you posted and look forward to your continued advice and input as we move ahead.


Anthony A. Frank
Colorado State University