Forum highlights campus budget challenge

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak began her update on the UCCS budget with her presentation’s conclusion.

“We are going to make it. We are not closing programs. We are not laying off people. We are moving some around — the shifting of the deck chairs has been successful,” Shockley-Zalabak said. “We have challenges ahead. I want you to leave here knowing it’s tough and that I know it’s tough,  but also knowing that we are going to get through this time and we will be a campus that still maintains its quality and integrity not only for faculty and staff but also for our students and the entire community.”

Speaking at two forums Tuesday and Wednesday, Shockley-Zalabak was joined by Dale DeBoer, associate professor, Economics, and chair of the University Budget Advisory Committee. DeBoer provided a brief macro-economic view of the U.S. economy while Shockley-Zalabak gave the micro view of how the campus will deal with a recession reminiscent of the early 1980s.

Listen to DeBoer’s economic forecast here: [audio:|titles=Economic Forecast]

Shockley-Zalabak traced the campus budget history over the decade and the precipitous drop in state support that has forced tuition increases, budget cuts, a strategic goal to increase enrollment, new policies for renting campus buildings, and renewed efforts to find new ways to be more efficient.

Tracing the history of funding at UCCS, Shockley-Zalabak highlighted changes over the last decade but focused on recent history where state support for UCCS declined from almost $23 million in 2007-08 to a predicted $8 million by 2011. For now, CU has been buffered by an influx of federal funds but those funds will be withdrawn in eleven months and few are optimistic that there will be an economic recovery so strong that state coffers will refill.

“It is important that we understand the context in which we find ourselves,” Shockley-Zalabak said. “The truth is we are planning to get through this without a robust recovery. Now, if we have a robust recovery that is fantastic. But we’re going to be here with quality and integrity and with programs and having people come here without a recovery.

“To plan as if we are going to have a recovery seems to me to be putting our heads in the sand so to speak.”

For FY 10-11, which begins July 1, Shockley-Zalabak outlined $1.35 million in cuts to expenses. Increases in efficiencies, a tuition increase and continued growth will generate $5.8 million. Additional revenues are needed with the best solution being to continue to increase enrollment.

Estimates show that the current capacity of the campus at roughly 12,000 students. The campus currently enrolls about 8,500 students.

On April 6, the CU System will announce budget reduction plans at all CU campuses. The UCCS plan will likely be different, Shockley-Zalabak said, because of the reliance on enrollment growth. Such growth is possible but will require the cooperation of the entire campus community both to encourage initial enrollment and to create a student experience that retains students through graduation.

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