Frequently Asked Questions

What is causing the financial challenges at CSU-Pueblo?

The financial challenges at CSU-Pueblo are being caused by a significant drop in enrollment. Tuition, student fees and state funding tied to enrollment account for 95 percent of the revenue used for education and general operations at CSU-Pueblo. Going into the 2013-14 academic year, CSU-Pueblo’s operating budget was based on a projected enrollment increase of 7-9 percent. In the fall of 2013, after the student census, the university determined that actual enrollment dropped by 2.7 percent. That drop in enrollment created a gap between revenues and expenditures that CSU-Pueblo, in partnership with the CSU System, now is working to address.

The fiscal year for state agencies in Colorado, including CSU-Pueblo, begins July 1. When the extent of the enrollment decline became apparent in October, CSU President Lesley Di Mare began working with campus leaders and the CSU System to determine how best to handle the situation. Rather than enacting mid-term cuts this fiscal year, the CSU System $5 million in direct support to cover the immediate budget gap. That support is in addition to the $2 million provided to campus by the CSU System during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The goal is that CSU-Pueblo have a balanced budget for the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year. In order to do that, CSU-Pueblo must reduce campus expenses by $3.3 million to align expenditures with projected revenues tied to an anticipated flat enrollment scenario. Though this is a difficult process, CSU-Pueblo President Di Mare is committed to addressing the structural imbalance with strategies that preserve academic quality and limit the impact on students.

The leadership of CSU-Pueblo, the CSU System and the CSU System Board of Governors believe that permanently fixing this structural imbalance responsibly is the best way to put the university on sound financial footing so that the CSU-Pueblo community can focus on building a strong and vibrant institution that serves Colorado students and families.

Why is enrollment dropping at CSU-Pueblo?

Colorado resident students account for 87 percent of the student body at CSU-Pueblo. Unfortunately, Colorado is going through a downturn in resident enrollment across the higher education system. According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, nine of Colorado’s 13 institutions of higher education saw a drop in resident full-time enrollment during the 2012-13 academic year, a trend that has continued and in some cases accelerated this year.

Though there are a few exceptions, the statewide trend in-part is due to a cyclical decline in enrollment one would expect in an economy rebounding from recession. It also reflects, however, the fact that an increasing number of Colorado high school graduates are choosing to leave the state to attend college and another significant cohort of high school graduates is simply not academically prepared to attend college directly after graduation. Unfortunately, those trends have a more pronounced impact on regional institutions like CSU-Pueblo that largely serve students who are Colorado residents.

How is CSU-Pueblo addressing the budget challenges?

CSU-Pueblo will proceed with plans to reduce expenses by $3.3 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, and the university is focused on doing it in a manner that preserves academic quality and limits the impact to students. This includes reducing redundancies in every department and seeking increased efficiencies through partnerships with other CSU System institutions on appropriate back office and administrative functions. Those evaluation efforts are on-going.

While such steps certainly can deliver cost-savings, they are not enough to completely address the structural imbalance faced by the university. Personnel costs at CSU-Pueblo account for about 83 percent of university expenditures, which means there is no way to balance the budget without impacting jobs. Nineteen vacant positions across the university have been eliminated as a cost-saving measure. An additional 22 filled positions will also be eliminated. Affected employees have been notified and will be able to remain in their positions until June 30. Other needed savings will be achieved through operating reductions.

At present, no layoffs of tenured and tenure-track faculty are contemplated. Any layoffs or non-renewals of faculty positions are governed by the faculty manual. Faculty members will, however, be required to increase their teaching loads and interactions with students. As it stands now, some faculty members are not teaching a full 12 credits per semester, which is required by their own policies and procedures. Going forward, the university will insist that all faculty members carry a full teaching load.

How long has the CSU-Pueblo leadership known about this challenge?

This is not something that should catch the campus community by surprise. More than a year ago, CSU-Pueblo President Di Mare identified the fact that there was a growing and worrisome imbalance between revenues and expenditures at CSU-Pueblo. At the time, she enacted more than $1.5 million in budget cuts and asked the University Budget Board – an internal budget committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and student representatives – to produce recommendations for what could be done should the budget situation worsen.

In April last year, the committee produced a 31-page report with 35 strategies for budget reductions at CSU-Pueblo. All of the cost-cutting strategies that are being implemented now were identified as part of that inclusive and campus-wide process. These are ideas that came directly from the campus community, which learned this fall after the student census, that the enrollment declines had accelerated and caused the budget situation to deepen. Now the campus must act on the recommendations of that committee.

Why didn’t CSU-Pueblo increase tuition last year, which would have generated additional revenue?

Over the past few years, students at CSU-Pueblo experienced consistent year-over-year tuition increases, adding up to 60 percent jump between 2008 and 2013. The university held tuition flat this year as part of a strategic decision to try to provide increased value to our current students and to reduce the amount of debt they will carry after graduation. CSU-Pueblo was the only four-year campus in the state that did not increase tuition, something that the university believed would have the added benefit of potentially attracting new students. CSU-Pueblo’s budget was crafted this year based on the expectation of flat tuition and an increase in enrollment. As has already been noted, enrollment actually declined and caused the imbalance between revenues and expenses the university leadership is now working to fix. For the coming academic year, CSU-Pueblo is budgeting for a 6 percent increase in tuition.

How is the CSU System supporting CSU-Pueblo during this time?

The CSU System is comprised of CSU-Pueblo, CSU in Fort Collins and the CSU-Global Campus, a 100-percent online university. The CSU System Board of Governors has nine voting members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate, and six non-voting members who are faculty and student representatives from CSU, CSU-Global Campus and CSU-Pueblo. The board provides oversight to ensure effective management, accountability and leadership at all CSU System universities.

The CSU System is comprised of CSU-Pueblo, CSU in Fort Collins and the CSU-Global Campus, a 100-percent online university. The CSU System Board of Governors has nine voting members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate, and six non-voting members who are faculty and student representatives from CSU, CSU-Global Campus and CSU-Pueblo. The board provides oversight to ensure effective management, accountability and leadership at all CSU System universities.

The Board also encouraged continued consideration of strategies to leverage other System resources to assist CSU-Pueblo in an effort to assure the campus’s growth in quality, cost-effective educational programs

As part of the system Pueblo has enjoyed a higher bond rating for financing of campus construction projects, including the renovation of the Occhiato University Center. Over 30 years, the competitive interest rate delivered by the CSU System adds up to $18 million - $20 million in savings for CSU-Pueblo. CSU-Pueblo is converting to a state-of-the-art accounting system used by CSU in Fort Collins. By partnering with a sister institution, the cost of the new system is greatly reduced compared to if the university bought a new accounting system on its own.

Is CSU in Fort Collins also cutting its budget?

CSU in Fort Collins experienced a nearly $40 million reduction in state support beginning in at the start of the recession in 2008. To manage the impact of those budget reductions, the roughly 30,000-student university significantly cut expenses, closed programs, froze salaries and raised tuition. CSU also trimmed its workforce by 355 positions, a reduction of about 6 percent. Even during the time CSU was making the cuts, the university provided funds to the CSU System that were used to support CSU-Pueblo.

Is this the end of the cuts?

For now, yes. However, CSU-Pueblo has projected flat enrollment for the 2014-15 academic year and is building its operating budget for next year around that projection. If there is another decrease in enrollment, additional cuts could be required.

Why is CSU-Pueblo laying off staff at the same time that it is investing in athletics and athletic facilities?

Funding for athletics comes from a variety of different sources that are unrelated to academic programs at CSU-Pueblo. Facilities for the six new sports programs will use no monies from the university’s educational budget or any other budget on campus, with $2.5 million coming from a gift to the university that was earmarked for those facilities.

CSU-Pueblo also is renovating the Occhiato University Center. How can it afford to do that during these budget challenges?

Expansion of the OUC is being paid for with student fees and one-time dollars, two sources which can obviously not be used to support on-going programs at the university. The students at CSU-Pueblo voted to tax themselves specifically to pay for this project, and by leveraging the bond capacity of the CSU System, we are able to use those fees to finance this important project. Another $5 million will be contributed from the Campaign for Colorado State University-Pueblo through the CSU-Pueblo Foundation to complete the second phase of the OUC renovation and addition effort.

Will the University continue with the construction of a new academic building?

Yes, the 45,000-square-foot General Classroom Building on the west side of campus will be funded through state dollars at a cost of $16.2 million. The new facility will bring state-of-the-art technology to CSU-Pueblo students with three floors that include lecture auditoriums, large lecture classrooms, computer labs, general classrooms, faculty and staff support offices, and conferencing space for general educational program delivery. The new facility also will serve as an additional benefit in the recruitment of prospective students. Groundbreaking will commence in March, with final completion, occupancy, and move-in by August 2015.

How will the CSU System’s new Denver South initiative impact CSU-Pueblo?

The CSU Denver South initiative is a response to an invitation from the business community in the Denver market. Local business leaders asked the CSU System to deliver very specific programs in nursing, business and engineering that address the needs of students and the labor force in Denver’s South Metro region. Almost exclusively, CSU Denver South will serve a place- or circumstance-bound population that would not likely attend one of the System’s physical campuses, including CSU-Pueblo. CSU-Pueblo’s nursing program is one of the cornerstones of this new initiative and the university’s business college may play a role as well. Fundamentally, CSU Denver South may provide new opportunities for CSU-Pueblo to generate revenue, increase enrollment and employ faculty. CSU Denver South is a new opportunity for all the institutions of the CSU System to serve students in a region where there currently is not a CSU footprint. This is a revenue-generating opportunity that CSU-Pueblo would not have access to if it were not part of the CSU System.