Chancellor's Communiqué

Administrative Program Prioritization Update, 5-4-2016

Dear CU Denver faculty and staff:

In case you missed yesterday's town hall meetings during which the results of the CU Denver administrative program prioritization process were shared, here's a recap.


In 2013, the Board of Regents requested that each CU campus undertake a "program prioritization" process, conducting a thorough review of academic and administrative programs. CU Denver presented the results of the Academic Program Prioritization project to the regents in November 2014. The administrative program review began in June 2015 and concluded last month. It was led by Neil Krauss, director of initiatives and outreach in the CU Anschutz Chancellor's Office, and Nicole McWhirter, special projects manager in the Office of Budget and Finance.

The process

The process was guided by a 20-person committee of students, faculty and staff, representing a wide cross-section of university functions and workforce levels. The committee identified 38 administrative university-wide units for review and developed a two-part methodology-a self-study and a customer satisfaction survey.

  • The self-study provided each administrative unit the opportunity to assess its own relevance, demand, quality, productivity, efficiency and adaptability.
  • The survey was sent to targeted and randomized samples of students, faculty, staff, campus leadership, alumni, donors and external partners. It was designed to quantitatively measure the efficiency, effectiveness, and customer service of each unit in a way that could compare the units across the campus. Respondents were asked to give numerical scores for each area and given the opportunity to provide comments.
  • Each administrative unit was presented with a summary report of the results for their particular unit.

The results

Overall satisfaction with each unit was uniformly positive. As committee member and Business School Professor Cliff Young summarized, "The results show a very narrow band of differences among units. There are no units that are significantly above the overall average nor are there any that are significantly below... Each unit is generally performing within acceptable standards."

The survey results do reveal some areas in need of improvement, including a common theme of misunderstanding by stakeholders, customers, peers, and sometimes within units about unit roles and responsibilities. Despite a great deal of expertise within units, this expertise is often not shared across units, resulting in a lack of shared purpose or common focus. It is often unclear to the units themselves how they "fit" in the university structure, as well as how units "fit together" with one another. Conversations with units reveal a need to help students, staff and faculty better navigate what often is a complicated and overwhelming system of administrative functions.

Next steps

We will follow up with administrative units on plans or actions being taken to address concerns that came up in the survey. We will present the results of the administrative prioritization study to the Board of Regents, likely this summer.

This review of our administrative programs will dovetail nicely with the Chancellor's listening tour efforts and those next steps. We greatly appreciate the hard work of the Administrative Program Prioritization Committee, and in particular Neil Krauss and Nicole McWhirter.

We've learned a great deal from the process already, and our goal is to continue to learn from it as we move forward. With each such undertaking, we have the opportunity to make necessary changes that will make us a better, stronger university. 

Dorothy Horrell signature

Dorothy Horrell

Roderick Nairn, PhD

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Terri Carrothers
Senior Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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