|Dear Roadrunner community,
COVID-19 has ushered in a transformational period for higher education like no other. We are facing budget challenges, enrollment unpredictability and other uncertainties associated with a global pandemic that has upended many of our lives.
Throughout this time, we have remained committed to and focused on our mission and the students we serve. Yet as we enter the new fiscal year today and with financial challenges ahead, I thought it was important to provide an update to the community about where we stand with our budget.
I want to start by acknowledging those who have signed up for voluntary furloughs and early-separation agreements. I also want to thank the Faculty Senate, the Council of Chairs and the Budget Recommendation Committee for their work on this challenging process. We have had people in almost every area of the University come forward to offer their support – from Academic Affairs to each of our administrative branches. Your support will save Metropolitan State University of Denver an estimated $1.5 million.
These reductions, combined with what we were able to cut in Phase 1 of this process, have brought us to $10.3 million, which is much closer to meeting our expected $14 million budget shortfall for FY 2020-21. That said, our enrollment for this fall is not where we want it to be. As of this writing, we are down 10.26% for full-time-equivalent students. If those numbers hold and we cannot meet our enrollment targets, we will unfortunately need to look at additional cost-cutting measures.
As you know, we have taken a proactive and transparent approach to the budgeting process from the outset. While we continue to hope that we will not need to take drastic action, we have been contingency planning for this possibility for months. Recently, the Budget Recommendation Committee shared a plan for mandatory furloughs, which if needed would likely start in August. We will know more in July as we get a better sense of enrollment trends.
I understand that the budgeting process can cause some unease in our community. But please know that we are doing our best with the information we have and the projections we need to make in a continually changing environment. As I’ve said in the past, we continue to make decisions with three principles in mind: putting students first; supporting and being fair to employees; and being strategic.
I continue to believe we will get through this and that the Roadrunner qualities of tenacity, strength and determination will persevere. We will look back on this moment and be proud of how we came together to sustain the extraordinary enterprise that is MSU Denver.
Janine Davidson, Ph.D.