What the latest CU treasury news means for CU Denver

February 7th, 2023

Dear faculty and staff,

I want to follow up on CU President Todd Saliman’s message about the treasury. As President Saliman says, the impact to the treasury is less than previously estimated, and that has enabled funding for some of the commitments as part of the systemwide accelerating the strategic plan investments. These accelerating the strategic plan funds are not part of CU Denver’s normal operating budget and are separate from our strategic realignment of resources work. But this change in financial position impacts CU Denver—and I want to clarify how.

Over the last year, we made significant investments across several capital and strategic initiatives. These initiatives include employee compensation, our Research Grand Challenges, the design work for our new engineering building, deferred building maintenance, and student success.

This latest treasury update gives more clarity around what commitments we are able to keep. CU Denver is now able to hold onto most of the funds that we have spent, the highlights of which are summarized below.

Funding Impacts for CU Denver

  • 2022 employee compensation: In the last year, CU Denver invested $8.6 million in employee compensation and hiring. This includes:
    • January 2022 salary increases (3% merit plus a 1% one-time across the board increase) for all eligible faculty and staff, even though we missed our Fall 2021 budgeted enrollment.
    • October 2022 one-time payments as part of a 1% “retention pool” ($1,000 for eligible faculty and staff and $500 for lecturers).
    • Hiring investments to strengthen our core campus functions.
I want to reiterate that faculty and staff compensation remains one of our top priorities, and that we will continue to work at the campus and system level to take steps in the right direction.
  • Research Grand Challenges (last year and this year): Since my arrival at CU Denver, I have heard and taken to heart feedback from our faculty that research is an important part of our mission and our value as a public urban research university. As we make important strides toward Goal #3—being internationally known for research and creative works—CU Denver has committed to funding last year’s and this year’s Research Grand Challenges: a total of $1.6 million. The second round of funding for Research Grand Challenges will also be allocated this spring as we continue to advance the innovative, interdisciplinary work happening at CU Denver
  • Engineering building: We have been able to retain some of the funding to cover the design work of our new engineering building. However, we won’t receive the full extent of funding that we had hoped for. Our new engineering building is crucial to our 2030 Strategic Plan as the anchor of our forthcoming innovation district. So we are now working to explore additional funding options to move this work forward—either through external partners, philanthropy, and/or other avenues.

Additional Strategic Initiatives

I also want to address a few other strategic initiatives that this news impacts.

  • Student success: We remain committed to enhancing student success, and one way we’re doing this is helping our students—many of whom are underrepresented or minoritized—overcome certain logistical hurdles in their educations, such as account holds. CU Denver was able to retain these funds from the system to invest in these efforts.
  • PhD tuition remission pilot: Unfortunately, we were not able to retain funding for our proposed tuition remission pilot program for doctoral students. My team and I remain committed to this effort and are exploring alternative approaches. More information will be given as it becomes available.
  • Diversifying our faculty and staff: In addition, we were hoping to receive startup funding from the CU System for pilot programs to support the broader work of our Inclusive Excellence Council (IEC), including cluster hiring and faculty startup support. Unfortunately, we were not able to secure that funding, but we are confident in the direction set by the IEC that will be adopted and funded at the school, college, and unit level across the university. Throughout the academic year, our IEC, composed of associate deans and leaders and emerging leaders from across CU Denver, has been hard at work creating DEI plans for each school, college, and unit. Their recommendations, which will serve as local guideposts to help achieve our long-term goal to become the nation’s first equity-serving institution, will be published on the Office for Equity & Inclusion website by mid-February and include actions for increasing a sense of belonging on campus and diversifying our faculty and staff, among other efforts.

In closing

I want to thank our team and the CU System for working collaboratively to secure as much of the funding as possible for CU Denver, particularly as most of the initiatives were already spent. These commitments go a long way in ensuring that we can continue to support all of you and your work, as well as our students and our campus, in the best ways possible. We will continue to work closely with the system to ensure that the strategy, values, and investments key to CU Denver’s future remain a core part of their financial imperatives.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Michelle Mark signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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