President Joyce McConnell shared details of Colorado State University’s plan for Courageous Strategic Transformation at the CSU Board of Governors’ June retreat, emphasizing that she wants this to be more than typical “strategic planning.”
McConnell told the Board that her aim for the intensely collaborative process of creating the CST is to channel CSU’s inventiveness and moxie to transform the university. That transformation will enable the people – the students, faculty and staff who are the university’s strength – to build on CSU’s greatness and rise to the challenges of our time.
The Board’s annual retreat was June 10, followed the next day by the regular June meeting at which the Board approved a FY22 budget that brings the CSU System and its three institutions back to pre-pandemic budget levels.
Facing high hurdles
In sharing progress on CST, McConnell described high hurdles universities face, including the ongoing pandemic, climate change and the dire need for sustainability, and the demographic shifts that will challenge enrollment at higher education intuitions across the country – all of which have given CSU energy and an even stronger sense of purpose.
“These obstacles are challenges, but they are also gifts, because they give us the focus that we need to do things differently,” McConnell said, describing the CST focus on “a sustainable, thriving planet and a flourishing humanity.” These two broad areas address both the human side of the university and campus culture, as well as the broad range of learning and research around sustainability and health of humans, animals, and the environment.
“We want to build on greatness. We don’t want to be stagnant,” McConnell said. “There’s tremendous energy on campus to evolve into greater greatness.”
As the university transforms, Vice President for University Communications Yolanda Bevill has been working to build more powerful, cohesive ways of telling CSU’s story since joining the Ram community last July. With a message that is coordinated and aligned across campus units, Bevill played off an opening message by Chancellor Tony Frank on the purpose of a university and the goal of enlightenment and spreading that knowledge (or light) out into the world. She compared CSU to a lamp, shining a bright light as an outstanding public research university.
“We look at who has our lamp and who is carrying our message,” Bevill told the Board. “Where does that light shine and who do we want to have carry that lamp for this great university?”
Excellence and student success
At the center of this effort is a redoubled focus on excellence in teaching, diversity, equity inclusion and justice, and student success. Provost Mary Pedersen described innovations in the ways the university uses new platforms for supporting student success, and for improving early intervention strategies when students are struggling or at higher risk of non-retention.
“To improve retention and graduation rates, it’s really critical you start early,” Pedersen said. “Early intervention means predicting which students tend to struggle. In order to do that, you have to dive into the data and look at how you can make these predictions.”
Pedersen and Bevill joined Vice President for Research Alan Rudolph, and Vice President for University Operations Lynn Johnson in presenting how the CST framework developed so far spans the breadth and depth of the entire university.
Board members offered comments and suggestions – a fitting part of CST as an evolving transformation framework. CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank, noted that President McConnell has doggedly pushed to keep CST moving forward even in the throes of the pandemic.
Detailed information about Courageous Strategic Transformation, including presentation materials from the Board of Governors retreat, is available on the President’s web page.
Budget approved for 2021-22
At the regular Board meeting on June 11, the Board voted to approve a total budget of nearly $1.5 billion that restores funding to pre-pandemic levels for all three campuses within the CSU System.
The budget reflects a return to normal operations and includes a 3% tuition increase for both Colorado State University and CSU Pueblo, the first since the Fall 2018 semester. At CSU in Fort Collins that increase amounts to $283 per year for a full-time resident undergraduate student, and $844 per year for a non-resident.
The increase will assist in shoring up the budget, closing revenue gaps from the pandemic year, and contributing to faculty and staff merit salary increases averaging roughly 3%, which aligns with increases ratified for all State Classified employees in Colorado. CSU graduate student stipends will also increase by 3% as a step toward increasing benefits for graduate students.
Other items related to Fort Collins
• The Board voted unanimously to take a position in opposition to proposed ballot measure Initiative 16, which could appear on the Colorado ballot in November 2022 pending a petition drive for signatures.
Board position: “As authorized by state law, the Board adopted this position because of the Initiative’s expected significant negative impacts on veterinary education, pet care, agricultural education, food supply and security, and the ability of faculty and students to conduct essential scientific research and education.”
CSU is providing expert-based information about Initiative 16 online, including analysis of anticipated effects of the proposed initiative.
• The price for a single-day parking permit at CSU will decrease to $10, from $13, for CSU faculty staff and students in a move to provide greater parking flexibility. The Board also approved an additional discount for bulk purchases: 10-19 permits are $9 each; 20-29 permits $8; and 30-40 permits $7. Those not affiliated with the university will continue to pay $13 for a daily parking hangtag.
• There were no reports from faculty or student representatives because of an abbreviated meeting agenda to accommodate the previous day’s retreat.