Editor’s note: This message was sent to the entire Colorado State University System on Sept. 30.
I’m sending this message to our three CSU System campuses to share an important update from the Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System.
The Board took an unusual step recently and decided to take a stand in support of Proposition CC, which will be on the ballot in November. The Board, whose members all come from different political ideologies and philosophies, rarely weighs into politics, even though they have the right to do so. But their unanimous support for Proposition CC tells you how important they believe this measure is to the future of the CSU System and Colorado higher education.
Proposition CC would, without raising taxes, allow the state to invest an additional $300 million a year in K-12 schools, roads and transportation, and higher education. For higher education at all levels – from trade schools to research universities – this would mean an additional $103 million a year in funding to benefit our campuses and students.
The CSU System has always had a mission to provide an affordable education to all eligible Colorado students, and that’s a mission we take seriously. The percentage of our budgets spent on administration is well below the state average at all our CSU System campuses. For a decade now, we’ve packaged financial aid so that our lowest income students don’t pay tuition and fees to attend. We’ve created innovative delivery mechanisms and degree programs to give people learning options, and we’ve invested in advising and support services to help students graduate on time (thus saving them and their families money). In other words, we’ve done a lot with the resources we have.
But the reality is that state funding for higher education is still 11% lower than it was back in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, and our students have shouldered the cost. We all know that enrollment has grown and costs have gone up since 2008. But even with strong commitment from the Legislature, state support has never recovered from the hit it took a decade ago. We feel it in areas that are understaffed and under-resourced – and every time we have to look at raising tuition. Proposition CC would be a major step forward in our ability to finally and fully recover, to remain affordable for students, and to retain an excellent staff and faculty.
The bipartisan Board of Governors includes representatives from agriculture, business, and industry who come from all parts of Colorado. They are out in their communities, talking to families, and they see how important state colleges and universities are to our future. They disagree on a lot of things. But they share a belief that Proposition CC would have a significant, positive impact for our students, our economy, and for the competitiveness of our state, which still ranks 48th in the country for state and local higher-education funding.
As CSU System chancellor, I wanted to share the Board’s position with you. Ballots will be in the mail in a few weeks, and you, as voters, will have to make up your own minds as to how you feel on this issue. Please take the time to learn about it and consider the needs of your own campus and departments. This election – and the choice we make on Proposition CC – is important for Colorado and CSU.
We’ll continue to share additional information on the issue as it becomes available. Thanks, and have a great week.
Chancellor Tony Frank
Colorado State University System