December 17, 2019

Dear Campus Community Members,

At the recent meeting held on December 5th and 6th, we updated our Board of Governors on our interim budget. Since I am committed to timely and open communications with all of you, I am writing to you with a brief overview of what we told the Board.

Earlier this fall, Governor Polis submitted his higher education budget request for fiscal year 2020-21 to the state legislature, which includes a 2.5% increase in state funding for Higher Education. Here at CSU, we anticipate additional increased revenues from small tuition increases (we all want to keep those low!) and increased enrollment. This is all good news.

Of course, we also anticipate significant expenditures in the fiscal year that begins July 1, all of which clearly demonstrate our commitment to our land-grant mission and to our students, faculty, and staff. We provide millions of dollars in financial aid each year, on top of the costs we gladly incur to support the exceptional research, teaching, and engagement that goes on at CSU: everything from utilities to keep the lights on in the labs to library costs and insurance.

At the state level, the Governor has included a 2% salary increase for State Classified employees in his FY21 budget proposal (but does not propose to cover the cost of this increase with state monies). Because we value all our employees, CSU has budgeted salary increases for our Administrative Professional and Faculty employees at the same rate. These salary increases represent additional expenses we need to plan around. Nonetheless, all these proposed expenditures are welcome news.

The less-than-good news is that – at this very early point in our budgeting process — our projected revenues minus projected expenses in the areas mentioned above will leave us with a significant shortfall for the 2021 fiscal year: around $9.5 million. We obviously have a lot of work to do to bring our budget into alignment before the end of the state legislative session in May.

We are committed to being responsible and efficient managers of public and tuition funds. That’s fundamental. So we will continue to have critical discussions around priorities and expenses here on campus. But we also believe that higher education deserves strong state support. So we will work with colleagues in the CSU System Office, including Chancellor Frank and his team, and reach out to members of the Legislature, particularly the Joint Budget Committee, to tell the story that we believe urgently needs to be told—and heard.

We want all of our partners across the state to know how valuable higher education is to the citizens of Colorado, and specifically, how valuable the education, research, and outreach work done here at CSU is to our entire state. We will share your stories and emphasize the transformative power of your research, teaching, scholarship, service, and learning. And we will shine a light on your brilliant minds and great hearts to show that an increased investment in higher education is an increased investment in the future of our state.

I will keep all of you posted as we move through the legislative process. Until then, I hope you have a productive, successful final few weeks of the semester and a wonderful Winter Break. Thank you for everything you do to make CSU an exceptional place to work and learn.


Joyce E. McConnell