I appreciate the leadership Colorado State University students have shown in recent weeks in wanting to learn about and address the budget challenges facing higher education in Colorado. Your interest has been apparent in the many messages I’ve received from students over the past few weeks, as well as in the thoughtful discussions CSU Provost Tony Frank and I have had lately with ASCSU officers. Your desire to address budget challenges has also been apparent.
Ultimately, the quality of education at CSU as well as other Colorado colleges and universities will depend on increased support from the State and equitable funding of higher-education institutions in terms of cost of programs and spending authority. At this time, Colorado State University is proposing a budget for next year that – thanks to considerable negotiation and compromise – will allow us to make progress with important improvements to educational quality but with price increases to students that are reasonable and fair.
When Dr. Frank met with student leaders at ASCSU May 2 to discuss the budget, he made the point that most of the new revenue the University will have to invest next year will come from students. While all of us would prefer that the State of Colorado bore a larger share of the expense, students who selected CSU because of its quality and value understand the importance of preserving and even improving the value of a CSU degree – to provide our graduates a competitive edge now and in the future.
That understanding and commitment on behalf of our students is reflected in the University budget proposed for next year. We built the budget based on the “stretch goals” established by the Board of Governors of the CSU System to ensure the University consistently moves forward in terms of quality and reputation. While the new funding available is not what we had hoped, it will nevertheless allow us to cover mandated cost increases, provide a 5 percent salary increase for faculty and staff (which is critical for retaining your best professors and counselors) and make some important quality improvements associated with the stretch goals and our University Strategic Plan. These improvements will enhance the student experience at CSU.
This draft budget still must be finalized on campus and then shared with the Board of Governors for its consideration at its June meeting. Your student government represents you on the Board, and I encourage you to provide your feedback to it on the budget we’ve proposed.
In its current draft form, the budget allows us to:
/ Add 45 new faculty positions
/ Partially fund plans to promote enrollment access along with student success and retention
/ Support the launch of two additional Superclusters, as previously planned
/ Partially restore some enhanced support for graduate education (additional GTAs and support)
/ Move forward with new degree programs in Journalism and Technical Communications, Health and Exercise Science and Biomedical Engineering, and the establishment of the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity as an academic department
/ Provide additional support for a competitive Athletics program
/ Enhance faculty and administrative professional medical benefits (a means to attract and retain faculty and staff)
/ Provide enhanced support for campus safety and security
/ Offer nearly $2 million in additional support for both need- and merit-based aid
/ Increase the salary floor for adjunct faculty
This budget includes a modest tuition increase for both resident and non-resident undergraduates, along with a change in the number of credit hours for which full-time students are charged, from 9 credits to 10. The tuition increase amounts to about $85 per semester for a full-time resident student and $369 for a full-time non-resident. Closing the credit-hour gap by one credit will cost a full-time resident student an additional $202, bringing the average total cost increase for full-time residents to about $287 per semester. Non-resident students will pay an additional $874 as a result of the credit hour closure, bringing the average total cost increase for a full-time non-resident to about $1243.
We also expect state approval for some additional building and facilities maintenance projects on campus, including support for renovating the Clark Building.
An overview of the proposed FY08 budget for new and projected revenue is available online at www.president.colostate.edu. This worksheet also identifies those items that we had hoped to fund this year that are not included in the FY08 budget.
All in all, this budget provides a sound basis for future progress at Colorado State University. I am encouraged by the ongoing discussions with state leadership about the magnitude of the funding challenges facing CSU, and we expect to work together in the coming year to continue to address these challenges. I look forward to working in close cooperation with the students of Colorado State University as we move ahead.
This op/ed letter was sent to the Collegian from Brad Bohlander, CSU’s Executive Director of Public Relations and spokesman for CSU President Larry Penley.