Update on Collaborative Budget Realignment Work

December 16, 2022

Dear CU Denver faculty and staff,

Finals week is a busy time for everyone in our CU Denver community, and we want to thank all of you for your dedicated support of our students as they finish up this semester and prepare for tomorrow’s Fall Commencement. We also want to thank you for your demonstrated commitment and efforts as we continue to work together on the university’s holistic budget realignment and growth initiative. From the beginning, our intention has been to enter into this initiative cooperatively and provide transparent information as we move along, including our update today.

As we transition into the holidays, we want to provide a recap on the process and progress so far and what to anticipate in the spring semester. You can expect to hear updates from us on at least a monthly basis, and you can receive more frequent updates through the engagement sessions and additions to the website.

A Recap of Our Task

Over the next 18 months, we need to reduce our continuing budget by $12 million to balance our FY24 budget and increase our long-term financial strength. This reduction is necessary because of a series of internal and external constraints impacting our financial position and many universities across the country. While we must trim our budget, we are also looking for innovative ideas that will position us for growth and enable us to thrive and fulfill our student-centric mission long into the future. Following, we have summarized our charge at a high level:

Budget Reductions

Proposed Cuts & Implementation Time Frame (FY24)

Proposed Cuts & Implementation Time Frame (FY25)


Administrative Units

4% to be implemented by July 1, 2023

Additional 4% to be implemented by July 1, 2024

8% for Administrative Units

Academic Units

3% to be implemented by July 1, 2023

Additional 4% to be implemented by July 1, 2024

7% for Academic Units

Our Commitment to a Collaborative Process with Broad Input from Our Community

Since the initial email was sent on Nov. 16 communicating our budget situation, there has been a purposeful sequence of meetings, information sessions, feedback loops, and additional communications. Over 500 faculty and staff have attended these meetings. We’ve also received more than two dozen ideas.

We are meeting with Faculty Assembly and Staff Council, as well as the budget priorities committee, and we will continue to engage our shared governance bodies throughout the process. We have also begun to engage with our Student Government Association leadership, and we are committed to increasing our connection with students on this issue as we move forward in the new year. Already, shared governance input has given us the opportunity to comprehensively and with much greater depth think about the ways we can position CU Denver for stronger health in the years ahead while keeping our focus on students, the quality of our teaching and learning, and valuing our employees who make it all happen.

A Recap of the Timeline and Actions

  • Nov. 16: Email sent to CU Denver community communicating budget news and informational website went live.
  • Nov. 16: Budget support team launched to help steer collaborative engagement process.
  • Nov. 16-Nov. 22: Support team met with every school/college leader and their leadership/budget teams to provide information. Deans and school leaders were asked to share information unit-wide about the budget initiative and how their unit would approach it.
  • Nov. 28: Vice chancellors and deans met to share the feedback that emerged from preliminary meetings held with the schools and colleges in mid-November and integrate that feedback into additional brainstorming on ways to innovate and reduce expenses across the university.
  • Dec. 5-Dec. 9: Held five information sessions for the CU Denver community in person and virtually, which more than 500 faculty and staff attended. The sessions included a budget presentation from Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget Jennifer St. Peter, remarks by Executive Vice Chancellor Jennifer Sobanet and Provost Constancio Nakuma, and attendees were able to ask questions. A recording of the presentation and the slide deck are available on the website.
  • Dec. 5-Dec. 9: Budget support meetings were launched for administrative leaders, and a second-round of conversations within schools and colleges began with budget support team members to continue to gather ideas and suggestions at the local level.
  • Dec. 5-13: Presentations were made at meetings of the Faculty Assembly (Dec. 5) and Staff Council (Dec. 13).

Ways to Stay Involved Now

Before Winter Break, we encourage you to seek out your supervisors, department heads, and unit leaders to share ideas, express concerns, and make your voices heard. In addition, please be sure to visit the website dedicated to this initiative to learn more about our current situation, stay up to date with additional information and FAQs, and submit questions and input. We will continue to look at questions submitted through this site on a near-daily basis and post answers to the most frequently asked questions.

We have also heard from the community about specific and local questions that you want to have answered in more detail. To help share more information, our budget support team members will hold office hours in the coming weeks and throughout this process. To register or learn more, click the link above and/or visit this website where we have initial dates and times posted and where we will continue to add additional meeting times.

If you have specific ideas for budget reductions, we have also created a channel for community members to submit ideas directly through the website for consideration, and we ask that you please participate in the recently released survey soliciting your direct input.

What’s Next

Next Wednesday, Dec. 21, vice chancellors and deans are responsible for submitting initial budget reduction proposals to the budget office. We are asking for proposals early to incorporate the ideas that have surfaced at many levels already, but it’s important to keep in mind this date is also just a starting point as we continue to iterate on these ideas and use more engagement and feedback opportunities to bring more ideas forward in the future.

To be clear, no decisions about budget reduction proposals will be made over the Winter Break when our faculty and staff are away. Rather, beginning in January and through February, we will re-engage with our shared governance and faculty and staff to share the scope of those proposals and gather additional feedback.

After several weeks of iterating, discussion, and analysis with our campus community members, the three of us—Chancellor Michelle Marks, Provost Constancio Nakuma, and Executive Vice Chancellor Jennifer Sobanet—will make decisions on the proposals in late February based on the overall impact on the university and careful consideration of how decisions could affect teaching, learning, the student experience, the implementation of our 2030 Strategic Plan goals, and campus operations.

Our holistic budget recommendations will be submitted to the CU Board of Regents in mid-March ahead of the April Regents meeting. But please remember that we have until July 1, 2023 to implement the first round of reductions, and until July 1, 2024 to refine and implement the second set.

While we are certainly going through a difficult moment with hard decisions to make, we want to reiterate how grateful we are for your insights, creativity, and collaboration. We can only lift ourselves out of this challenge with everyone’s participation and good thinking. In fact, it is through your innovative ideas and your collaborative mentality that our path forward will be ultimately charted. In both good and challenging times, it is essential that we catalyze the growth mindset that we harnessed during our strategic planning process and continue to dream big, think boldly, and stay focused on how we re-imagine CU Denver to be in order to accomplish our 2030 vision.

We hope you have a restful and rejuvenating holiday break.

Michelle Marks, Chancellor

Constancio Nakuma, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Jennifer Sobanet, Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration and Strategy

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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