Board of Governors hears report, feedback on budget, tuition and raises

Ashley Harvey at BoG meeting

Ashley Harvey, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, speaks to the Board of Governors as she is presented with the Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award on May 4. Photo by Joe Mendoza

The Colorado State University Board of Governors received another round of input on the 2023-24 budget at its May 4-5 meetings before it votes on the financial plan for the upcoming fiscal year in June.

Highlights of the proposed budget include an 11% increase in state funding, a 5% salary increase pool for all employees and tuition increases of 4% for undergraduates and 3% for grad students. The state had authorized tuition increases of up to 5% for public colleges and universities.

“This is a budget that prioritizes compensation,” CSU President Amy Parsons told the board.

Henry Sobanet, chief financial officer for the CSU System, provided an overview of state appropriations, which includes $23.9 million for phase two of the revitalization project for the Clark Building.

Financial aid, equity adjustments

Vice President for University Operations Brendan Hanlon noted that a significant portion of the revenue from the undergraduate tuition increase, $4.2 million, will be devoted to financial aid. In addition to the 5% salary increase pool, he said about $1.5 million is dedicated to equity adjustments.

Board members and other CSU leaders responded to concerns about tuition increases and inadequate compensation raised by graduate student workers, faculty and staff during the public comment period. Board Chair Kim Jordan and Parsons acknowledged the feedback and thanked those who came to speak to the board.

Parsons said the administration is planning to host public forums in the fall to begin collecting input on the 2024-25 budget early on, as part of an even more transparent planning effort, and CSU is looking at alternate budget models to pilot. She noted that the proposed tuition increase for 2023-24 amounts to $198 per semester for resident undergraduate students.

Other scenarios

CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank also acknowledged the concerns, and outlined the difficulties of various alternate budget scenarios, such as having no tuition increase at all. If CSU were to give employees an 8% cost of living increase in one scenario, he noted, it would create a $20 million deficit and force units to make cuts and reallocations that could have negative impacts.

“That’s a substantially risky, I would argue, challenge to take on,” Frank said.

While some suggest relying more on research dollars or donor funds, he said those are restricted sources of revenue usually earmarked for specific purposes. Frank said that while the campuses’ budgets may not be perfect, they represent a solid effort to balance competing interests at the university. 

Other business

In other action at the board meeting:

  • The board heard a presentation from several people involved in making the new documentary “An Open Door,” which is about Temple Grandin, CSU’s renowned animal behaviorist and autism advocate. Speakers included College of Agricultural Sciences Dean James Pritchett, CAS Director of Development and film producer John Festervand, film director and CSU alumnus John Barnhardt, CSU student film producer Rachael Mild and Grandin herself. The board watched the trailer for the documentary, which had its first public screening on April 22.
  • Ashley Harvey, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, was presented with the Board of Governors Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award following remarks by Interim Provost Janice Nerger.
  • The board also elected new leadership at the May 5 meeting. Armando Valdez will succeed Jordan as chair of the board, John Fischer was named vice chair, Nate Easley will serve as secretary, and Kenzo Kawanabe was named treasurer.